Launched in December 2002, the Australia Open Play-off offers a chance for the lower-ranked Australian players to reach the main draw of the home Major and fight for big points and prize money. The 18th edition takes place between December 9-15 at Melbourne Park, gathering 16 men and women who will try to pass the challenging draw and secure the invitation for the next month's Australian Open.
Six Australian players are ranked in the top-100 on the ATP list, securing their Melbourne berth and leaving those behind them to fight for an invitation. Christopher O'Connell and Marc Polmans have decided to skip the Play-off event, hoping to get a direct wild card for the main draw and leaving Alex Bolt and Andrew Harris as the top seeds.
Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis didn't bother to enter the Play-off, with Max Purcell and Blake Mott (using the protected ranking) as seeds three and four. Talented juniors have earned the invitation and there are two more spots left for grabs for the best players from the UTR Wildcard Playoff, with a chance for every player in Australia to join that event and seek the place in the Play-off.
Maddison Inglis and Lizette Cabrera are the players to beat in the women's draw, ahead of Destanie Aiava who claimed the victory at this tournament two years ago. "The AO Play-off is a great opportunity for our players who don't have direct entry into the Australian Open to compete and earn their place in the main draw," Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
"Winning this event, and going on to play at the Australian Open, really sets a player up for a successful year, both in terms of prize money and confidence. Some of our recent past winners include current stars Ash Barty and Alex de Minaur, and I know all the players will hope to emulate their success.
So many of our emerging players have achieved terrific results on the Pro Tour this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in action here at Melbourne Park at what is the beginning of our summer of tennis. I'm delighted we're including players who've activated their Universal Tennis Ranking (UTR) to compete for a spot in the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off."