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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Dozen Americans Entered in ATP/WTA's First 2021 Tournaments; Sharma Among Early Australian Open Wild Cards; Entries Close Thursday for Early January UTR $25Ks; Midwest Indoor Canceled

With less than two weeks before both the ATP and WTA start a new year of competition, the names of players competing in Delray Beach, Turkey and Abu Dhabi tournaments have begun to surface.

Although no Americans are traveling to Turkey for the ATP 250 tournament there, five US men received direct entry into the 250 in Delray Beach. Always popular with Americans, the tournament moved from February to January this year, with the move to February by the Australian Open. According to the Delray tournament website, John Isner, defending champion Reilly Opelka, 2017 champion Sam Querrey, 2018 champion Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul are among the 21 direct entries. Qualifying begins on January 5, with main draw matches starting January 7. Tickets are being sold, so I believe this will be the first pro tournament with spectators in the United States since the Oracle Indian Wells Challenger/WTA 125 back in early March.

The WTA tournament in Abu Dhabi is a 500 event, and at 64, has more spots available than the two ATP 250s that week (28 Delray, 32 Turkey). According to information I saw on Twitter, seven American women are among the 51 direct entries, including Sofia Kenin, Jennifer Brady, Amanda Anisimova, Danielle Collins, Coco Gauff, Bernarda Pera and Jessica Pegula. The player list has not yet been posted to the WTA tournament website.

Astra Sharma 2020 Nicholasville $100K/photo ©Scott Gerber

The first six Australian Open wild cards have been announced by Tennis Australia, with former Vanderbilt star Astra Sharma among the four women who will not have to travel to Dubai for qualifying January 10-13th. The other main draw wild card recipients are: Daria Gavrilova, Maddison Inglis and Lizette Cabrera. Four additional women's main draw wild cards, including one designated for an Asia-Pacific player, will be announced later.

The two men's wild cards just announced are Christopher O'Connell and Marc Polmans. Six others, including an Asia-Pacific wild card, are to be determined. There will be no reciprocal wild cards with French and US Opens this year.

For more on the Australian Open entry lists, see this article from Stephanie Myles. Myles also provides a detailed look at how the qualifying/lucky loser scenario is impacted this year by the travel restrictions and quarantine required in Australia.

While the only USTA Pro Circuit tournament currently on the calendar for January 2021 is a women's $60K in Rome Georgia at the end of the month, there are two UTR $25K events in Florida and California the first week of January.

Entries close Thursday for the women's tournament in Naples Florida, and the men's tournament in Newport Beach California January 3-10. Currently Jenson Brooksby and Maria Mateas are the entrants with the best UTRs. For more on Brooksby's decision to turn pro after an abbreviated semester at Baylor early this year, listen to this Cracked Racquets Mini-Break podcast interview with the 2018 Kalamazoo 18s champion. 

Last week I mentioned the $7500 Midwest Indoor Championships, scheduled for after Christmas in the Columbus area, but that tournament has now been canceled due to Covid-19 protocols. See the TennisLink site for more information on that decision.