Australia will have 15 representatives headed by Samantha Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic in the Australian Open singles draws.
Local tennis stocks are at a nine-year high heading into next week’s Australian Open but, like the dollar, threaten to crash at any time.
Such as at Friday’s draw when long-time blue-chip performer Lleyton Hewitt and volatile speculator Bernard Tomic will be very much at the mercy of the tennis gods despite hitting their straps on the eve of the season’s first grand slam.
Hewitt, fresh off his Brisbane International final triumph over four-time champion Roger Federer, and Tomic, into the semi-finals in his title defence at the Sydney International are both unseeded.
Australia’s two big men’s hopes could conceivably run smack bang into world No.1 Rafael Nadal, three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic or other front-line contenders Andy Murray or Federer in the first round at Melbourne Park.
Samantha Stosur, through to the last four at the Hobart International, is Australia’s only seed in the singles events this year, at No.17 in the women’s event.
The 2011 US Open champion has yet to venture beyond the fourth round in 11 visits to Melbourne and, after falling outside the top 10 for the first time since 2010, Stosur will also be hoping for some luck in the draw.
Without a top-eight seeding, Stosur could potentially meet world No.1 and raging title favourite Serena Williams in the first week.
With some good fortune, Australia’s three stars could all go deep after displaying some strong form in the lead-up.
Despite her well-documented home struggles, Stosur is seeded to make the title match in Hobart which, technically, would be the Queenslander’s fourth successive tournament final.
The 29-year-old reached three straight finals in Osaka, Moscow – where she lifted the Kremlin Cup – and Sofia to complete 2013 before opening her 2014 campaign at the Hopman Cup exhibition event.
Hewitt has climbed back to 43rd in the world after enjoying his first injury-free run in years, while Tomic has won five of his six matches this summer and revels playing on the big stages in Australia.
Not since 2005 when Hewitt was ranked No.2 in the world and ultimately made the final at Melbourne Park, and Alicia Molik was in the top 10 and charged to the quarter-finals, have Australian hopes been so high entering the Open.
“A lot of the players have been in really good form,” Stosur said on Thursday.
“Maybe that hasn’t happened so collectively for the last couple of years.
“I don’t know why maybe the change but it’s nice to be able to be part of that success and try keep boosting it along.
“I guess so far so good but I’m sure I can speak for all of us and say that we all want to definitely replicate it down in Melbourne.”
All up, Australia will have 15 representatives in the singles at Melbourne Park, with Marinko Matosevic, Matt Ebden, young guns Nick Kyrgios, James Duckworth and fellow wildcards Sam Groth and playoff winner Jordan Thompson also in the men’s draw.
Playoff winner Casey Dellacqua and fellow wildcards Ashleigh Barty, Storm Sanders, Jarmila Gajdosova and Olivia Rogowska join Stosur in the women’s event.