Sam Stosur caught in Aussie tennis dilemma amid storm around Arina Rodionova

Rodionova accused Tennis Australia of having a personal vendetta against her.

New Australia captain Sam Stosur faces a huge BJK Cup selection call around Arina Rodionova. Pic: Getty
New Australia captain Sam Stosur faces a huge BJK Cup selection call around Arina Rodionova. Pic: Getty

Aussie tennis great Sam Stosur faces an awkward selection dilemma involving Arina Rodionova, after taking over from Alicia Molik as Australia's Billie Jean King Cup captain. Stosur's first major decision as Australia's coach centres around the possible inclusion of Rodionova for the upcoming finals qualification tie against Mexico in Brisbane.

The former US Open champion and World No.4 will sit courtside for the crucial April 12-13 tie at Pat Rafter Arena, which shapes as an intriguing start to life under Stosur for Australia's BJK Cup team. The big question is whether Stosur will pick Rodionova in the wake of the 34-year-old's controversial Australian Open wildcard snub and subsequent criticism of Tennis Australia.

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Rodionova is the top-ranked female player in the country and recently became the oldest woman in history to reach the top 100 for the first time. She was controversially overlooked for an Australian Open wildcard in favour of Daria Saville, before hitting out at TA and claiming the governing body had a vendetta against her.

Arina Rodionova is seen her during qualifying for the Australian Open in 2024. Pic: Getty
Arina Rodionova is seen her during qualifying for the Australian Open in 2024. Pic: Getty

"The only regrets I have from today is just I gave Tennis Australia something to celebrate," Rodionova said after she lost in the subsequent qualifying for the Australian Open. "I think they are very pleased with my result today and that's what makes me upset...

"There are so many things and instances that happened between myself and people in charge of, like, the head of women's tennis and other people in Tennis Australia," she added. "There were just so many things behind the scenes that it is very clear to me that I'm not liked.

"And it's not just clear to me, it's clear to every single Australian tennis player and everyone. It's not exactly a secret, everyone knows it and now it's kind of funny that basically by making this decision they decided to make it public as well."

Arina Rodionova swipe puts Sam Stosur in awkward situation

The explosive comments from Rodionova put Stosur in a very awkward position, considering she is employed by TA but also wants to select the best possible team to qualify for the BJK Cup. World No.1 doubles player Storm Hunter would seemingly be an automatic pick as Australia's second highest-ranked female player at World No.120 and the undisputed star of recent BJK Cup runs, including a run to the final in 2022.

Seen here, Storm Hunter at the Australian Open in 2024.
Storm Hunter is seen here at the Australian Open in 2024. Pic: Getty

Hunter qualified for the Australian Open singles draw and reached the third round at Melbourne Park and her strong doubles form continued with victory in Dubai last week. It's the situation around Saville and Ajla Tomljanovic - two of Australia's biggest stars of recent years - that complicates matters for Stosur.

Saville's form in recent years has been well short of her best displays in 2017 when she reached a career high of World No.20. Saville is now ranked outside the world's top 200 and failed to make the most of her Australian Open wildcard after losing in the first round.

Tomljanovic on the other hand is currently Australia's No.11-ranked female player at 223 in the world, with the former World No.32 and three-time grand slam quarter-finalist returning from a long-term injury. There are eight Australians ranked between Tomljanovic and Hunter and six of them are aged 25 or younger.

Stosur - who was part of an Australian team featuring Ash Barty when Brisbane last hosted a tie in 2019 - admits it won't be an easy decision about who she picks for the Australian team in two weeks. "The next couple of weeks are pretty important for all our Australian players to see what their form is," Stosur said.

"How they're going, not just in January but more recently, going into the tie. You can go down the ranking list and know all those girls are wanting to put their hand up and play in the team and be part of it."

with AAP

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