MIAMI – The 2007 Sony Ericsson Open has awarded 22 total ‘main draw’ and ‘qualifying’ wild cards, comprised of both veterans and the stars of tomorrow, Tournament Director Adam Barrett announced Tuesday.
In the men’s main draw, the five wild-card recipients include rising American stars Sam Querrey, Alex Kuznetsov and former Florida Gator Ryan Sweeting.
Querrey had a terrific 2006 campaign winning three challenger events. He jumped more than 600 ranking positions from the previous season to become the fourth-youngest player in the year-end Top 150. He is off to a solid start in 2007 reaching the third round of the Australian Open defeating the 27th seed José Acasuso in the first round. He’s has also reached the quarterfinals of two events this season (Memphis, Las Vegas).
Also receiving wild cards are a pair of former Grand Slam champions. Fan favorite and three-time French Open Champion Gustavo Kuerten returns as well as Thomas Johannson, the former seventh-ranked player in the world, who is looking to regain the form that brought him the 2002 Australian Open title. Johannson has been recovering from an eye injury suffered in 2006.
Wildcards for the men’s qualifying draw were awarded to Brendan Evans, Donald Young, 2006 Luxilon Cup champion Pavel Checkhov and 2006 Junior Orange Bowl winner Alex Luncanu.
The 20-year-old Evans, who lives and trains in Key Biscayne, Fla., was one of the top junior players in the country for several years. He teamed with Scott Oudsema to win three junior Grand Slam doubles titles in 2004 including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. He was also among the world’s top junior singles players, reaching the French and Italian Open semifinals and the Australian Open and Wimbledon quarterfinals.
American Lauren Albanese leads a talented group of future stars receiving wildcards into the women’s field at the Sony Ericsson Open, including Boca Raton resident Anna Tatishvili, Bradenton resident and 14-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito, Petra Martic, Alex Wozniak, Dominika Cibulkova
and 2006 Luxilon Cup champion Sanja Ancic, who is the sister of top-10 ranked Mario Ancic.
Also joining them will be Ashley Harkleroad, who is coming back from injuries after reaching a career high ranking of 39 in 2003. She reached the third round of the 2007 Australian Open upsetting 17th-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the second round.
Wildcards for the women’s qualifying draw were awarded to Julia Cohen, Cassandra Herzberg, Jasmina Tinjic, 2006 Junior Orange Bowl winner Nikola Hofmanova and 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson.
The 17-year-old Cohen, a Weston, Fla. resident and another one of the country’s top junior players over the last several years, captured the singles title at the 2007 Casablanca Cup, the first ITF Grade A event of the year, giving the talented right-hander a record three singles titles at the prestigious event. She is currently the No. 6 ranked junior player in the World. Her brother Josh is a senior on the University of Miami’s tennis team.
Two players played their way into the qualifying draw. Marie-Eve Pelletier won the women’s pre-qualifying tournament for the third straight year while Nicolas Todero won the men’s pre-qualifying tournament.