US Open rocked by 'brutal' chaos amid massive development for Aussie tennis

James Duckworth has joined Kimberley Birrell in earning 'lucky loser' spots in the US Open main draw.

James Duckworth, Kei Nishikori and Bianca Andreescu, pictured here before the US Open.
James Duckworth has come into the US Open for Kei Nishikori, while Kim Birrell replaced Bianca Andreescu. Image: Getty

James Duckworth has joined fellow Aussie Kimberley Birrell in earning a 'lucky loser' spot in the US Open, taking Australia's contingent to 15 for the final grand slam of the year. Duckworth was handed an entry into the main draw on Sunday (US time) when former finalist Kei Nishikori announced his withdrawal.

It comes as a brutal blow for the Japanese veteran, who only recently made his return to the ATP tour after a near two-year absence due to a knee injury. However it comes as good news for Australia because Duckworth now gets a chance. The Aussie lost to 2-6 2-6 to Timofey Skatov in qualifying.

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On Saturday it was a similar story for Birrell, who earned her own 'lucky loser' entry due to the withdrawals of Bianca Andreescu and Paula Badosa. Andreescu, who famously won the tournament in 2019 after beating Serena Williams in the final, revealed she has suffered a stress fracture in her back.

Bianca Andreescu beat Serena Williams to win the US Open in 2019. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Bianca Andreescu beat Serena Williams to win the US Open in 2019. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Canadian lost her opening match at the Citi Open in Washington DC last month, before going down in straight sets to Camila Giorgi at the Canadian Open. The 23-year-old appeared to be in discomfort against Giorgi and called for the trainer during the match.

The former World No.4 then withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters, with the injury now ruling her out of the US Open as well. It marks the latest in a long line of injuries the Canadian has suffered since her maiden grand slam triumph four years ago.

"During my match in Washington I started experiencing pain in my back that kept getting worse and I did everything I could the other night in Montreal to play at my highest level," she said after withdrawing from Cincinnati. "All of this led me to undergo medical examinations and sadly the results have revealed a small stress fracture in my back." Andreescu was scheduled to face Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in the first round at Flushing Meadows.

Paula Badosa announces withdrawal from US Open

Former World No.2 Badosa also revealed on Saturday that she will miss the year's final grand slam due to injury. The 25-year-old Spaniard, who was scheduled to play Venus Williams in a first-round blockbuster Tuesday, announced she is ending her season early to focus on getting fully healthy.

"Those of you who know me know how much I like to compete and how difficult it has been to make this decision... See you next year, stronger than ever," Badosa wrote on social media. The Spaniard has also endured a wretched run of injuries this year, missing the French Open with a stress fracture in her spine and retiring hurt during her second-round match at Wimbledon due to a back injury.

Birrell has earned a place in the main draw as a result of the withdrawals. The Aussie lost her final-round qualifying match 6-3 6-3 to Fiona Crawley of America, but got a reprieve due to Andreescu and Badosa withdrawing.

Olivia Gadecki adds to Australia's US Open field

Meanwhile, Australian prodigy Olivia Gadecki won through qualifying for the US Open and will make her international grand slam debut at Flushing Meadows. The 21-year-old beat American player Emina Bektas 6-1 6-1 in less than an hour on Saturday to boost Australia's contingent.

Gadecki and Birrell give Australia five players in the women's singles draw, joining Ajla Tomljanovic, Daria Saville and wildcard Storm Hunter. Gadecki, who will play teenage prodigy Mirra Andreeva in the first round, made her only previous appearance in a grand slam main draw at the Australian Open in January when she was awarded a wildcard entry and made the second round.

All five Australian women will play on day one on Tuesday (Australian time). Birrell is up against former Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, while Tomljanovic faces Hungary's World No.124 Panna Udvardy in her first match since last year's US Open.

Saville plays US teenage wildcard Clervie Ngounoue, with the winner likely to meet World No.1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek in the second round. Hunter has a tough opener against Czech 10th seed and French Open runner-up Karolina Muchova.

Olivia Gadecki in action during qualifying for the US Open.
Olivia Gadecki in action during US Open qualifying. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Who the Aussies play in first round at US Open:

  • Alex de Minaur v Timofey Skatov (KAZ)

  • Jordan Thompson v Botic van de Zandschulp (NED)

  • Thanasi Kokkinakis v Yu Hsiou Hsu (TWN)

  • Aleksandar Vukic v Alexander Zverev (GER)

  • Max Purcell v Chris O'Connell (both AUS)

  • Rinky Hijikata v Paval Kotov (RUS)

  • Alexei Popyrin v Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI)

  • Jason Kubler v Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)

  • James Duckworth v Felipe Alves (BRA)

  • Storm Hunter v Karolina Muchova (CZE)

  • Daria Saville v Clervie Ngounoue (USA)

  • Ajla Tomljanovic v Panna Udvardy (HUN)

  • Kim Birrell v Jennifer Brady (USA)

  • Olivia Gadecki v Mirra Andreeva (RUS)

with AAP

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