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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Australian Open Draw Released with Lauren Davis Playing No. 5 seed Stosur, Rain Plaguing Qualifying; Traralgon Grade 1 News

The Australian Open men's and women's draws were released this evening in soggy Melbourne, and the news was not good for USTA wild card winner Lauren Davis, who will play 2010 French Open finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia in the opening round. Stosur is the No. 5 seed. The silver lining, as I said in a tweet earlier, is that Davis will play in front of a sold-out crowd, almost certainly on Rod Laver arena, and that at the very least, the match will be streamed back to the United States. That's about as complete a grand slam debut as you could ask for.

The men's USTA wild card, Ryan Harrison, is a veteran of two slams, having played last year in Australia as a wild card and qualifying for the U.S. Open in 2010. His opponent this year is Adrian Mannarino of France, ranked No. 80 in the world. Although there are still qualifiers to be decided, there are only six American men in the draw now, with four of them seeded: Andy Roddick(8), Mardy Fish(16), Sam Querrey (18) and John Isner(20). The sixth is Michael Russell.

A couple of Isner's college contemporaries, Kevin Anderson (Illinois) and Somdev Devvarman (Virginia) are in the main draw, with Anderson, a semifinalist last week in Brisbane's ATP event, matched up with a qualifier, and wild card Devvarman playing Spain's Tommy Robredo, who has fallen out of the ATP Top 50.

There are nine American women in the draw prior to the completion of qualifying, with only one of them seeded. In addition to Davis, there is Vania King, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Vavara Lepchenko, Alison Riske, Christina McHale, Venus Williams(4), Jill Craybas and Melanie Oudin. Riske has drawn two-time slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, the 23rd seed, while McHale will play unseeded Carla Suzarez Navarro of Spain. Lepchenko has drawn wild card Caroline Garcia, the 17-year-old from France who received entry when Virginie Razzano did not need the wild card previously awarded to her.

For complete draws, see australianopen.com.

Day two of qualifying was a complete washout, with four men's first round matches suspended from Wednesday and none of the women's first round matches begun. According to various tweets from journalists on site, tournament director Craig Tiley has ruled out any indoor play in qualifying.

The juniors playing in Australia often start with the Grade 1 (until last year, there were two Grade 1s prior to the Australian junior championships) in Traralgon. The field is very strong in the girls draw, with Daria Gavrilova, An-Sophie Mestach, Monica Puig and Yulia Putintseva the top four seeds. Monica Turewicz is the only U.S. girl in the draw. The boys main draw has not yet been released, but I was surprised to see Shane Vinsant's name in the qualifying, as he was not on the Australian juniors acceptance list. Emmett Egger and Mac Styslinger, who were listed in the AO qualifying, are also in the Traralgon qualifying. I don't know what the reason is for all the "played and abandoned" results in the boys qualifying draw. Have they all received main draw spots? We won't know until the boys draw is released. The tournament is scheduled to end on Wednesday, the 19th, with the Australian Open juniors qualifying starting on Thursday the 20th and main draw on Sunday the 23rd, so it doesn't appear there would be a need for any special exempt spots.

See the ITF junior website to follow the Traralgon tournament.

It is interesting to note that a player didn't even need an ITF ranking to get into the boys or girls qualifying at the Australian Open this year.