Tennis: Lee Tu’s Soul Challenger title propels him into tight Australian Open wildcard race

Lee Tu’s stunning run from qualifying in Seoul to his first Challenger title added even more intrigue and pressure to the glamorous Australian Open wildcard race.

South Australian upsets Chris O’Connell and James Duckworth finished 102nd in the standings after defeating in-form Chinese rival Wu Yibing 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in Sunday’s final. He moved up to a career-high 190th place.

The 26-year-old Tu is best known for earning an unlikely wildcard to the 2021 Australian Open under unusual circumstances when he was unranked, but he is a member of Tanasi Kokkinakis’ Junior Davis Cup team. was also a mate.

That wildcard was at the height of Covid-19 difficultieswhen the AO qualifier was held overseas and weeks before the main draw began, wildcard Andy Murray withdrew after contracting the virus.

The Australian main contender to replace Murray was subsequently ineligible after already competing for qualification, leaving Tu to be rewarded for his exceptional run in the UTR Pro Tour event.

camera iconLee Tu is poised to receive another Australian Open wildcard.Dean Martin credit: News Corp Australia

That $100,000 payday helped rekindle his career after taking a break from the sport to focus on coaching, and he’s climbed the rankings steadily ever since.

Tu is Nick Kyrgios (21), Alex De Minaur (23), Jordan Thompson (83), Kokkinakis (90), Alexei Popillin (97), Jason Kubler (102), O’Connell (107) and Duckworth. Sitting behind (108). ), John Millman (135) and Alex Vukich (150) are Australians.

Australia’s most promising up-and-comer, Linky Hijikata, who beat Rafael Nadal at this year’s US Open, returns one from Tu but becomes one of Tennis Australia’s AO wildcard winners There are plenty of possibilities.

The final months of the season are set to shake up the race, with five coveted wildcards.

None of Thompson, Kokkinakis, Kubler or O’Connell are in danger of dropping places, but Duckworth, Popyrin and Millman need to deliver strong finishes.

Duckworth’s biggest problem is that after reaching the quarterfinals at last year’s Paris Masters, 180 of his current 517 points fell in early November after a 12-month rolling tally.

He needed another great result like this to stay inside the main draw cut-line, and losing to Tu in the Seoul semi-final took a toll on those chances.

Hip surgery after this year’s Australian Open Sidelined Duckworth for almost four months and played a key role in his predicament.

Popyrin will also make it to the Round of 16 at the same Paris Games, losing 106 points.

If they fail to secure a direct Australian Open entry, they will both likely receive main draw wildcards, leaving only three available.

Millman, 33, will almost certainly need a wild card and rely on his illustrious career to make a case.

The 26-year-old Bukić was sidelined for three months mid-season, but both sides performed well enough to be top wildcard contenders. Also attending are Tu and his 21-year-old Hijikata and Dane his Sweeney.

Tennis: Lee Tu’s Soul Challenger title propels him into tight Australian Open wildcard race

Source link Tennis: Lee Tu’s Soul Challenger title propels him into tight Australian Open wildcard race

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