11 November 2017 | Tennis Australia

World No.186 Olivia Rogowska (Melbourne, Vic) and rising star Kimberly Birrell (Hope Island, Qld) have secured main draw and qualifying Australian Open 2018 wildcards respectively after dominating the Australian Pro Tour.

Rogowska, Australia’s sixth-ranked woman, earned her main draw wildcard to the year’s first Grand Slam as the best-performed Australian player at the $60,000 Canberra and Bendigo ITF tournaments.

“It’s incredible to get this opportunity. When I was competing I wasn’t really thinking about the wildcard, I knew that the chance was there but I really just wanted to try and focus on myself, fight really hard and become a better tennis player,” Rogowska said.

“Coming into the Pro Tour, I really wanted to make sure I was being as positive as possible, fight as hard as I could and not dwell too much on results, with that kind of mental mindset I think I played myself into some really good form and now I’m just feeling really confident, my self-belief is really high at the moment, it’s been a really great couple of months, I’m over the moon.

“It’s already been an amazing couple of months, getting the wildcard is a great reward for all my hard work and knowing that I’m going to be in the Australian Open main draw is just incredible.

“I’ve learnt a lot and I’m going to take everything I can and bring that into January, I can’t wait.

The Victorian won the Canberra title and has extended her winning streak to eight matches by progressing to the Bendigo semifinals.

These results are the continuation of Rogowska’s stellar form; in September she won the $25,000 Penrith title and a month later triumphed at the $25,000 tournament in Cairns.

Rogowska has won 22 of her past 24 matches and improved her ranking almost 100 places, from No.275 at the beginning of the season to her current ranking No. 186.

Nineteen-year-old Kimberly Birrell has been awarded an Australian Open qualifying wildcard on the back of a series of impressive results.

After being sidelined for most of 2016 due to elbow surgery Birrell has made a sensational comeback, winning the Brisbane Pro Tour event and reaching the final in Penrith.

“Earning a wildcard to the Australian Open was a big goal of mine for the Pro Tour, but I was trying not to think about it too much when I was playing and just wanted to focus on one match at a time, getting my ranking up and trying to get as many matches as possible under my belt.

“I haven’t had much time to think about my goals for the Australian Open, it hasn’t really sunk in that I’ll be playing.

“I’m just really excited to have this opportunity. Anytime I’m out on the court, doing what I love, I just try to enjoy it, I feel really lucky.

“Hopefully I can make the most of this opportunity, play well, and qualify for the main draw.

Birrell, an Australian Open junior semifinalist in 2014, slipped to No.770 in June but has since improved her ranking to No.332.

A main draw Aus Open doubles wildcard was also won by Ballarat’s Zoe Hives (Vic) and Canberra’s Alison Bai (ACT) after taking out the Bendigo ITF doubles title today.

Opportunities continue to emerge for Australian women’s tennis, with wildcards into Australian Open 2018 main draw to be awarded at Melbourne Park during the December Showdown to the 18-and-under Women’s winner and for the Australian Open 2018 Wildcard Play-off.