Stefan Kozlov wins men's
AO Wild Card Challenge
November 22, 2021
Stefan Kozlov's resurgent 2021 season will be rewarded with a wild card into the 2022 Australian Open. The 23-year-old finished on top of the men's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge standings by reaching the final at, and eventually winning, the ATP Challenger last week in Champaign, Ill.
Kozlov will join UCLA product Robin Anderson in Melbourne, after the 28-year-old won the women's challenge earlier this month. Both players will be making their Grand Slam main-draw debuts. It is a long-awaited milestone achieved for Kozlov, a former junior world No. 2 and a finalist in the juniors at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Kozlov, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., made his ATP tour-level debut in Newport, R.I. in 2013 at age 15. He lost in the final round of qualifying at the 2018 Australian Open, the closest he'd come previously to playing in the main draw of a major.ADVERTISEMENT
Ranked outside the Top 500 as recently as October of 2019 and checking in at world No. 366 in June, Kozlov has skyrocketed back up the rankings thanks to second-half surge and a 25-9 record on the ATP Challenger Tour this year. In addition to winning in Champaign, he was victorious in Columbus in September and in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this month. He was also runner-up in Las Vegas in October to J.J. Wolf, who he defeated in Saturday's semifinals in Champaign to officially secure the wild card.
Now ranked world No. 159, he'll look to match or better the career-high ranking of world No. 115 he first attained in 2017 next year.
The final standings in the men's and women's events are as follows:
Final Men's Standings:
1. Stefan Kozlov -- 208 points
2. J.J. Wolf -- 138
3. Christopher Eubanks -- 80
Final Women's Standings:
1. Robin Anderson -- 124 points
2. Caty McNally -- 79
3. Elvina Kalieva -- 78
The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards for the 2022 Australian Open and US Open will be exchanged. Both the men's and women's wild cards were awarded to the Americans with the most ranking points earned at a maximum of three indoor and outdoor hard court tournaments during a four-week window this fall. All indoor and outdoor hard-court events at the ITF World Tennis Tour $25,000 level and above, including WTA and ATP Tour events, were countable towards the Challenge standings.
Should the player with the highest number of Challenge points earn direct entry into the Australian Open, the wild card will go to the next eligible American in the above standings.
Pictured above: Stefan Kozlov returns a backhand during a qualifying match at the 2021 US Open. Photo credit: Pete Staples/USTA