It is not often that a player ranked No. 105 in the world plays an ITF $15K level event. But that is exactly what is happening this week at the $15K ITF Tournament in Milovice, the Czech Republic where 105th ranked Kaia Kanepi, of Estonia, has entered the tournament as she attempts to qualify for the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament main draw in January and has taken a wild card into the tournament.
Kanepi meets local Czech Darja Vidmanova, ranked No. 1228 in the first round. Kanepi would have the chance to play the Australian Open qualifying tournament but instead has chosen to play the lower ranking event in a bid to move past the other players and move into the main draw.
The 34-year-old Kanepi is a former Top 15 player and the next highest-ranked players in the tournament are Johana Markova, ranked No. 419 in the world and Anna Morgina, ranked No. 470 in the world. Entries into the Grand Slams are based on rankings six weeks prior to the tournament.
Kanepi has 659 points in the WTA rankings and a win in this event would give her 10 ranking points which would equal her to Romanian Irina Camelia Begu, ranked No. 101 in the world currently. She has reached the quarter-finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open twice each in her career so far and her best performance at the Australian Open has been the third round on two occasions.
Her first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance came at the 2008 French Open while her most recent one came at the 2017 US Open. Kanepi has won 4 WTA titles and 14 ITF titles in her career so far and will be hoping to add to the tally this week.