Retiring fan-favourite John Millman has been overlooked for a wildcard into the Australian Open main draw as he bids farewell to tennis.
The 34-year-old announced in November that he will retire from the sport following his 10th and final Australian Open campaign at Melbourne Park.
Millman received a wildcard into the tournament last year and won his first-round match, but there was no such luck this time as Australian Open officials revealed the final nine entries into the main draw on Friday.
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World No.102 Jason Kubler, who was beaten by Rafael Nadal in Brisbane on Thursday night, and 20-year-old James McCabe were the two Aussies preferred to Millman.
It means the veteran, who famously beat Roger Federer at the US Open, will have to go through three matches of qualifying to earn a spot in the main draw.
Millman has missed out on a wildcard. Credit: AAP
Fans were baffled by the decision.
“Giving McCabe or Jason Kubler a wild card over John Millman is asinine to me. That man packs the stadium. Every time. Shame shame shame Australian Open,” one fan said.
“John Millman having to go through qualifying for his final home slam is criminal,” another said.
“Not giving John Millman a main draw wild card is AWFUL!!! Appalled by that decision, what the hell were you guys thinking?” Another added.
“John Millman’s tennis farewell will be through #AusOpen qualifying using his own protected ranking. Bit shocked by that decision,” another added.
Millman overcame all manner of injuries to forge a special place in the Australian tennis history books with a career-defining fourth-round victory over Roger Federer at the 2018 US Open in New York.
He was the first Australian to topple the Swiss great at a grand slam since Pat Rafter at the 1999 French Open, when Federer was still a teenager.
Millman went tantalisingly close to repeating the feat at the 2020 Australian Open, losing in five sets after leading Federer 8-4 in the deciding super-tiebreaker.
He reached a career-high No.33 in the world in October 2018, won his lone ATP singles title in Kazakhstan in 2020 and played five Davis Cup ties for Australia while also wearing the green and gold at two Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, Australia’s top-ranked female Arina Rodionova was also overlooked for Tennis Australia’s final discretionary wildcard.
Rodionova increased her ranking from No.350 in February to No.113 after 78 victories in 2023 and just upset former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in Brisbane this week.
The Victorian this week pleaded with Australian Open organisers not to forget her as the 34-year-old fell one win short at the Brisbane International of cracking the world’s top 100 for the first time.
Rodionova has been denied a wildcard. Credit: AAP
But officials have opted to give the wildcard to Daria Saville, who is making her way back from a serious knee injury.
Speaking earlier this week in Brisbane, Rodionova conceded she did everything she could.
“It’s not up to me. If it was up to me, I would give it to myself, but I think there’s other people involved,” she said after defeating Kenin.
“Hopefully they like the way I’m playing this week, and hopefully they like that l’ve already won I don’t know how much matches last year.
“I’ve done all the hard work. So I put myself in the best position. There’s nothing else I could have done to get myself closer. I’ve pushed really hard the whole year.
“I think when I was starting, I was 400 and finished the year at around 100.
“I’m super proud of myself, and I’m happy with myself. If they’re not happy, then there’s nothing else I can do. I’ve done my best, and now it’s out of my hands.”
Saville, Kubler and McCabe join compatriots Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Gadecki, Taylah Preston, James Duckworth, Marc Polmans and Adam Walton as wildcard recipients.
Wildcards – Men and ranking
Jason Kubler (AUS) 102
James Duckworth (AUS) 116
Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 130
Marc Polmans (AUS) 150
Adam Walton (AUS) 176
Juncheng Shang (CHN) 183
Patrick Kypson (USA) 191
James McCabe (AUS) 272
Wildcards – Women and ranking
Alize Cornet (FRA) 109
Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 115
Mai Hontama (JPN) 119
Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 124
Taylah Preston (AUS) 208
Daria Saville (AUS) 209
McCartney Kessler (USA) 217
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 256