wins Australian Open wild card
Arthur Kapetanakis | November 19, 2018
Sixteen-year old former world junior No. 1 Whitney Osuigwe clinched a main-draw wild card into the 2019 Australian Open via the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. The WTA’s No. 204-ranked player finished atop the standings after the four-week contest with 160 points, 115 of which she earned by winning the first professional title of her career at the $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Tyler, Texas, on Nov. 4.
Osuigwe's title run included a three-set semifinal victory over current Top-50 player Belinda Bencic, the tournament's top seed and a former member of the WTA's Top 10.
Entering the final event of the Challenge, the Oracle WTA $125,000 event in Houston, Osuigwe was in second place, one point behind leader Varvara Lepchenko. Her quarterfinal run was enough to move her into the top spot and fend off a late charge from her rivals, many of whom also competed in Houston. ADVERTISEMENT Osuigwe’s ticket to Melbourne was not punched until Sunday evening, after third-place finisher Lauren Davis fell to Shuai Peng in the Houston final. Had Davis won the tournament, her trophy would have doubled as a key to the Melbourne main draw.
It will be the second consecutive Grand Slam main-draw appearance for Osuigwe, who received a wild card into the US Open after winning the USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ National Championship in August. She has already lifted a major trophy at the junior level, winning the 2017 French Open girls’ competition. Osuigwe made her WTA main-draw debut at the 2018 Miami Open, in her home state of Florida.
At the conclusion of the men’s challenge, Jack Sock is penciled in for the Australian Open wild card, though his ATP ranking of No. 106 may earn him a place on the direct-entry list, which is typically released in the first week of December. With the second- and third-place finishers in position to receive direct entry with rankings in the Top 100 – Reilly Opelka at No. 98 and Bradley Klahn at No. 77, respectively – Tommy Paul, who finished fourth in the Challenge, would be the likely beneficiary should Sock not require a wild card.
The 2019 Australian Open will be held Jan. 14-27.