A pair of Australian teens booked their spots in the main draw of the Australian Open for the second straight year as 17-year-old Destanee Aiava and 18-year-old Alex de Minaur won the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off.
Aiava narrowly missed out on a main-draw wildcard by falling to Jamiee Fourlis in the under-18 national final last week. She was in ruthless form on Sunday as she flew past countrywoman Tammi Patterson, 6-4, 6-0.
"I just wanted to keep building momentum and keep firing my shots with confidence," the world No. 154-ranked Aiava said. "That worked out well. I was trying not to think about the prize at the end, I just wanted to go for it. After [match] point was done I was so relieved."
In January, Aiava became the first player to contest a Grand Slam main draw born in the year 2000 or later.
The men’s winner, De Minaur, had to work for his second straight Australian Open wildcard, battling past fellow Aussie Alex Bolt 6-2, 6-1, 6-7, 6-1 in Melbourne Park.
Last year, the world No. 209 made full use of his wildcard by picking up his first Grand Slam win over Gerald Melzer.
"I feel like I thoroughly deserve this one— that's what happens when you are actually playing for one," he said. "I couldn't be happier with my level and I can't wait for the Australian summer to come."
The 2018 Australian Open wildcard landscape after Aussies Destanee Aiava and Alex de Minaur win the Australian playoffs pic.twitter.com/rxP9mNqlci— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) December 17, 2017
The Happy Slam begins in just under a month's time, with only the Australian Open’s remaining discretionary wildcards still to be determined. The qualifying even begins on January 10, with main-draw action kicking off on January 15.