Melbourne Park, 28 December 2010 | Tennis Australia

Former world No.8 Alicia Molik and one of 2010’s most improved players, Matt Ebden, have been awarded wildcards into the main draw of Australian Open 2011.

Top seeded Molik won all her pool matches in the recent AO Play-off, only to lose to the in-form Jelena Dokic in the semifinals.

“It’s an incredible opportunity Tennis Australia has provided me with, and one which I intend to make great use of with results,” Molik said today.

“I’m hoping for a hot summer, conditions I like and which suit my game.”

Western Australia’s Matt Ebden slashed his ATP ranking from 285 at the beginning of 2010 and reached a career high of 162 in August, finishing the year ranked No.196.

He started 2010 by qualifying for the Brisbane International, winning over then world No.28 Jurgen Melzer to reach the second round. He also battled his way through qualifying for his first main draw appearance at the Australian Open, putting up a good fight against Gael Monfils in the opening round.

Highlights of 2010 included representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games and winning a bronze medal. Ebden also won a Futures event in Great Britain and reached the final of a Challenger in Japan.

“To be in the starting line up and coming out fresh and ready to go in the main draw will be a great opportunity to set up for a big tournament,” Ebden said.

“It means a lot that the selectors believe in me and my game and it is nice to get an added bonus and reward after a year of hard work, and after qualifying last year.

“I have had a great year in many areas with all the Grand Slams, Davis Cup and Commonwealth Games, but definitely have a lot of improvements to make and a lot of hard work to put in to get to where I want to be.

“Australians out there don’t just want to see us [Australian players] in the first round, they want to see us winning tournaments. In my off season training this has been the focus, so from the start of our Aussie summer in Brisbane and Sydney, I will be working hard to put my best out there on the court.”

Australian Open wildcards have been allocated as follows:

Reciprocal US:                               
Ryan Harrison (USA)                      
Lauren Davies (USA)

Reciprocal French:                     
Benoit Paire (FRA)                          
Virginie Razzano (FRA)

AO Play-off winners:                 
Marinko Matosevic (VIC)             
Olivia Rogowska (VIC)

Peter Luczak (VIC)                          
Jelena Dokic
Matt Ebden (WA)                            
Alicia Molik (VIC)

There are a further three wildcards for both men and women to be allocated, with announcements to be made over the coming weeks.