Bernard Tomic’s rankings rise doesn’t guarantee Australian Open wildcard

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has refused to guarantee a wildcard for controversial former star Bernard Tomic as he stands to miss out on the qualifying draw despite a rapid rankings ride.

Whether fellow outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios will take the court in January also remains uncertain, but Tiley said it was still too early to rule out a comeback from a debilitating knee injury.

Tomic, 31, has quietly pushed up the world rankings over the last 18 months to reach No.278 after slipping as far as 825 last year.

The former Australian and US Open juniors champion has stuck to the Challenger circuit throughout 2023 and reached the quarter-finals of the Brasilia Challenger last week.

But he has only played in the main draw of the Australian Open twice since 2018, the last time in 2021, having played nine in a row from his debut in 2009.

Tomic’s relationship with Tennis Australia has been strained for years, but Tiley said that would have no bearing on whether he was issued a wildcard for Open qualifying.

“It’s not so much about the relationship, but it’s about if they’re deserving,” Tiley said.

“The things we consider – the form of the player coming in, there is a factor looking at age in some instances because do you want to give a younger player the opportunity versus one who’s been the journeyman for a while?

“We haven’t made the (wildcard) decisions in qualifying yet … we’ve made quite a few decisions on the main draw which we’ll announce in the coming days.”

Tiley said Kyrgios’ availability for the grand slam was still a “day by day” proposition as he recovered from a knee injury that limited him to a single professional match in 2023.

“As I’ve said, we’re going to have Nick here in some form or another in January … hopefully it is to play because he’s a crowd-pleaser. We love watching Nick and we love having him around,” Tiley said.

“It’s hard for me to predict (if he’ll play) … but it’s always likely someone is going to be ready to play because they want to play at the Australian Open.”

Despite the doubt over Kyrgios’ fitness on the local front, Tiley said the return of stars including Rafael Nadal, world No.1 Carlos Alacaraz and a significant contingent of Chinese players had helped ticket sales increase by more than 10 per cent compared with this time last year.

The additional day’s play is expected to tip attendance over the tournament record.

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