Kokkinakis counting on Open wildcard

Melissa Woods
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USA TENNIS MIAMI OPEN

Thanasi Kokkinakis is relying on a discretionary wildcard to play at the Australian Open

An injury-prone Thanasi Kokkinakis will be hoping he's next in line for an Australian Open wildcard after deciding to sit out the wildcard play-offs at Melbourne Park starting Monday.

Jason Kubler and Priscilla Hon were on Thursday awarded direct entry into the main draw of January's Open on the back of some promising 2018 results.

That leaves Tennis Australia with three discretionary wildcards to hand out in each field, with 22-year-old Kokkinakis counting on one being his.

Currently world No.152 Kokkinakis is looking to rebuild his ranking after suffering serious shoulder and pectoral injuries as well as a cracked knee-cap in April.

That came just after Kokkinakis upset then world No.1 Roger Federer in the second round of the Miami Open in the biggest win of his career.

Tennis Australia said the Adelaide talent was still working his way back from some minor injuries and wasn't up to five set tennis, which the field will contest next week.

Kokkinakis will instead target a competitive return in early January in the Brisbane International, where he won the 2017 doubles title with Jordan Thompson. He will need a wildcard into the singles main draw, which he received back in 2015.

World No.91 Kubler and Hon, ranked 120, were granted Brisbane wildcards alongside their Australian Open entry.

At 144, Marc Polmans is the next best ranked Australian behind Kubler, followed by Kokkinakis.

The wildcard play-off has attracted a strong local field with Alex Bolt, who lost last year's final to rising star Alex de Minaur, the top seed in the men's draw.

Ranked outside the top 200 in January, de Minaur used the opportunity to set up a stunning year as he rocketed up the rankings to finish the year at a career high world No.31 and as Australia's top ranked male player.

Other youngsters to watch include Akira Santillan, Max Purcell (NSW) and Australia's top ranked junior Rinky Hijikata.

"This event is a terrific opportunity for our next tier of players to earn the opportunity to compete at Grand Slam level," Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said.

"This year's field is a real mix of youth and experience which I'm sure will play out with some fascinating matches."

Arina Rodionova will again lead the women's field which features last year's winner Destanee Aiava and the 2018 under 18 champion Jaimee Fourlis.