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Popyrin leads Aussie wild cards at 2023 Australian Open

The first Grand Slam of the year has announced its homegrown main-draw wild cards

Alexei Popyrin Aug 6, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Alexei Popyrin (AUS) waits for Steven Diez (CAN) (not pictured) to serve the ball in first round qualifying play at IGA Stadium. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Alexei Popyrin is one of six homegrown players awarded wild cards to compete in the main draw of the 2023 Australian Open.

He will join Jason Kubler, Rinky Hijikata, Storm Hunter, Talia Gibson and Olivia Gadecki in the 128-player singles fields at Melbourne Park – although he is the only one among them to have so far clocked a singles win there, having reached the third round twice.

He reached a career-high ranking of world No 59 in November 2021 but since then has dropped out of the top 100, and been playing mostly on the ATP Challenger tour. The 23-year-old has enjoyed some success there, too, winning the Bordeaux title, reaching grass-court semi-finals in Nottingham and Ilkley, and closing his season with another semi-final run on indoor hard courts in Roanne.

“I can’t wait to play at the Australian Open and am so grateful for the opportunity,” Popyrin said in a statement. “It’s so special to play in front of the fantastic crowds in Melbourne and I’m looking forward to getting out there and doing my best. I hope to learn more about the physical and mental aspects of tennis from this opportunity but I also want to enjoy the experience and have some fun.”

Hunter, Hijikata, Gibson, Kubler, Popyrin and Gadecki join Americans Caty McNally and Ben Shelton as Australian Open 2023 main-draw wildcards.

McNally and Shelton won the most points in the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, which factors in results over a five-week period late in the tennis season.

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