5 qualifiers to watch at the Australian Open
Ahead of the Australian Open, Tennishead looks at five qualifiers who could make the biggest impact at this year’s event.
1) Carlos Alcaraz
Whilst fellow young stars Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner made their name on the ATP tour, 17-year-old Newcomer of the Year Carlos Alcaraz has taken the Challenger tour by storm in 2020, winning titles in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante following the resumption of the calendar.
After climbing 350 places in the rankings, the Spaniard continued his rich vein of form into 2021, beating the highly-rated Hugo Dellien in his final qualifying match to earn a debut spot in the Australian Open main draw.
However, Alcaraz admitted that he produces his best tennis on the clay-court surface and has already set his sights on Roland Garros to make his mark.
2) Bernard Tomic
28-year-old Bernard Tomic beat John-Patrick Smith in three sets in an all-Australian showdown with a place in the main draw on the line.
Tomic, who questioned his own commitment and desire after his exit at Wimbledon in 2017, insists he risked his life in the middle-east to qualify for the Australian Open and is hungry for success.
He said: “I’m risking my life, and I’m playing and competing. Of course, I want to get there. Otherwise I’d be hanging my rackets up. I don’t need to play tennis again, I’ve got enough money.”
The former World No 17 has a proven record at the Australian Open, having reached the fourth round on three occasions in 2012, 2015 and 2016.
3) Michael Mmoh
American star Michael Mmoh has had a difficult start on the ATP tour after achieving a career-high ranking of 96 following back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2018.
The 23-year-old has won just one of his seven matches in Grand Slam main draws, but did earn his victory at the Australian Open last year against Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Mmoh beat the talented Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech to earn his first main draw spot at Melbourne Park and his 1st round win last year should give him confidence.
4) Elias Ymer
Elias Ymer dismantled 5th (qualifying) seed Taro Daniel 6-1 6-2 to make his first main draw appearance at a Grand Slam since 2018.
The Swede’s victory means he will join younger brother Mikael – the world No.94 and two years younger than Elias – in the main draw of Major for the first time.
Elias Ymer said: “When I saw him [Mikael] play all these matches and playing so good when I was doing rehab for my elbow, I was like, man, if my brother can do this, come on Elias. I felt the energy of it.”
5) Aslan Karatsev
27-year-old Aslan Karatsev has qualified for his first Australian Open after trouncing Alexandre Muller 6-2 6-1.
The Russian secured a career-high ranking of 111 in November last year and has now won 32 of his past 38 matches, making him one of the most in-form players on the circuit.
Despite making his main draw debut at Melbourne Park, Karatsev has had success on the biggest stage before, having reached the 3rd round at the US Open and Roland Garros.
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