Australian Open 2019 Qualifiers, Preview: 4 Indians in action
The Australian Open 2019 is just a few days away and the top players are busy preparing to get onto the courts at Melbourne Park. However, the qualifying tournament will begin tomorrow, January 7, 2019.
There are 16 qualifying spots up for grabs and each player will have to play three rounds of qualifying in order to get through to the main draw.
The top seed from the main draw in qualifying is world no. 104 Lorenzo Sonego while the second seed is Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime. Meanwhile, the top seed from the main draw in the women's tournament is Vera Zvonareva.
There will be four Indians (2 men and 2 women) taking part in the qualifying tournament, namely Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Ankita Raina, and Karman Kaur Thandi. Yuki Bhambri will not be taking part in the tournament.
The 29-year-old from Chennai had a breakthrough year in 2018 and ended the year as India's no.1 player, just short of breaking into the top 100. He won two Challenger tournaments - in China and Bengaluru and reached the final in Pune as well. He ended the year as the world no. 107 and will hope to break into the top 100 soon and automatically qualify for the remaining three Slams of the year. He will be seeded 6th for the qualifying tournament.
He will take on Serbia's Viktor Galovic in the first round. Galovic is ranked 228 in the world. He could possibly take on USA's Donald Young in the second round of qualifying before possibly taking on Matthias Bachinger in the final round.
The big-serving Indian started off 2019 on a good note, reaching the Round of 16 of the Maharashtra Open held in Pune. He had a great chance to reach the quarters as well but ended up losing to Malek Jaziri. Ramanathan has never entered the main draw of a Grand Slam yet and will hope to turn things around this time.
He will take on Sergio Gutiérrez Ferrol in the first round of qualifying, who is ranked 211 in the world. He could possibly take on 36-year-old veteran and former world no. 5 Tommy Robredo in the final round of qualifying if he gets past the second round.
Karman Kaur Thandi
20-year-old Karman Kaur Thandi has been making great strides in the women's circuit and could potentially be India's next big thing in women's tennis after Sania Mirza. She had a great year in 2018, performing consistently well and reaching a career-high ranking of 196 towards the end of the year. She will be playing her first ever qualifying tournament to enter the main draw of a Grand Slam.
She will take on 16th seed Jennifer Brady in the first round of qualifying before possibly taking on Yanina Wickmayer in the final round of qualifying, if she gets past the second round, that is.
Much like Karman Kaur Thandi, 25-year-old Ankita Raina too had a breakthrough year in 2018 and got some great results under her belt. She reached a career-high ranking of 181 in May 2018 and ended the year inside the top 200, due to which she qualified for the Australian Open qualifiers.
She will take on France's Myrtille Georges in the first round of the qualifying tournament.