AT LEAST seven Jewish tennis stars, including community favourite, Israeli Dudi Sela, will play in the 2018 Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on January 15.
Players who have secured their spots in the first Grand Slam tournament for the year include Sela (ranked 78 in the world), Argentinian Diego Schwartzman (26) and Canadian Denis Shapovalov (50) in the men’s singles, and Italian Camila Giorgi (100) and American Madison Brengle (92) in the women’s singles.
Sydney native Adam Kellerman will play in the men’s wheelchair singles while American Jonathan Erlich will team up with Canada’s Daniel Nestor in the men’s doubles tournament.
Three Jewish players entered the Australian Open qualifying rounds earlier this week, but were knocked out.
American Noah Rubin (203), who was gallant in defeat to Roger Federer at last year’s Open, lost to American Mackenzie McDonald 1-6 0-6. Israeli Edan Leshem (281) lost to France’s Gleb Sakharov 6-7 4-6. In the women’s qualifying draw, American Jamie Loeb was defeated 6-3 5-7 3-6 by Chile’s Daniela Seguel.
In lead-up tournaments to the Open, Sela was knocked out of the Qatar Open in the first round, and then lost 6-7 1-6 to Frenchman Hugo Grenier on January 10 at the Canberra Challenger event, which he won last year.
Schwartzman and Giorgi entered this week’s Sydney International.
The Argentinian made the second round but lost 3-6 6-7 to Feliciano Lopez.
Giorgi began the Sydney tournament in impressive form, beating Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-2 in the second round. She then thrashed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-2 in the quarter-finals, booking a semi-finals match-up against Germany’s Angelique Kerber (due to be played on January 12).
Eighteen-year-old Shapovalov, who had an incredible 2017 which saw him recognised as the Association of Tennis Professionals’ Most Improved Player and Star of Tomorrow, lost in the second round to Juan Martin del Potro 2-6 4-6.
Local hopeful Kellerman will take to the Australian Open for the first time since 2016 after taking the past 12 months off due to injury.
The former world number 8 won the Australian National Championships in November last year to earn the men’s wild card entrance spot for this year’s Grand Slam.
Kellerman took part in the Sydney International, which started on Tuesday, in preparation for the tournament in Melbourne.