Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
ATLANTA, GA (December 6)—Eight American men who are rising ATP talents will vie for the coveted Aussie Open Wild Card about a week from now in Norcross. Here is a look at each one of them and their accomplishments this season.
Harrison, the younger brother of the better known young American Ryan Harrison, is ranked 474 in the world at the age of 18 and most notably made it to three futures semi finals this year and a semi final showing in the Lexington challenger back in July. His brother Ryan captured the AO WC in both 2009 and 2010 at the age of 17 and 18 respectively so Christian may have some family mojo going at this event.
Klahn, a former Stanford Cardinal standout, is ranked 274 in the world and is a 22-year-old lefty. His most notable showings qualifying for ATP LA, reaching the quarters in four challengers (Aptos, Sacramento, Tiburon and Charlottesville) and the biggest of all qualifying and reaching the second round of the US Open after beating tour vet Jurgen Melzer in a emotional five set battle on the outer courts. Klahn has already shown his emotional mettle and that should serve him well at this event.
Kosakowski, another former PAC-12 star who represented UCLA, is ranked 249 in the world at the age of 20 and won two futures events this year, in addition to making two futures finals and one challenger semi in Sacramento. I was able to watch Kosakowski at the Tallahassee challenger this year where he qualified and made the round of 16 and he is a hard worker. Kosakowski participated in the AO playoffs last year.
Former Tennessee Vol Sandgren, who is ranked 232 in the world at the age of 21, won four futures events this year in addition to making the final in another and also made the quarters of the Winnetka, Sacramento and Knoxville challengers.
Williams, also a former Tennessee Volunteer, is ranked 190 in the world at the age of 21 and won one futures event this year in addition to making a futures final and a challenger semi in Champaign. At the ATP level he qualified for Indian Wells and for the US Open, where he lost to Andy Roddick in the first round.
Williams participated in last year’s AO playoffs.
Johnson, a former PAC-12 star at USC, is ranked 175 in the world at the age of 22 and in addition to winning the Aptos challenger this year, beat Donald Young in the first round of ATP Atlanta in a match full of thrills and reached the third round of the US Open where he beat Rajeev Ram in the first round and Ernest Gulbis in five sets. He also made two other Challenger semis in Izmir, Turkey and Tiburon. Johnson participated in the AO playoffs last year.
The 20 year old Sock, who broke into the ATP Top 150 this year (150 in the world), won a futures event this year, the Tiburon challenger and made the final of the Champaign challenger. In addition, he made the quarterfinals of ATP Atlanta beating Alex Bogomolov and the aforementioned Johnson and the third round of the US Open beating top 30 player Florian Mayer and Flavio Cipolla.
Sock participated in the 2009 and 2011 AO playoffs and made the final of the 2010 playoffs where he lost to Ryan Harrison.
Kudla, age 20, is the highest ranked player in the field at 137 in the world and is also probably the most seasoned. This year he qualified for the Australian Open, reached the round of 16 at ATP San Jose after qualifying, the second round of Indian Wells and won the Lexington and Charlottesville Challengers.
He has had a bit of an inconsistent year but seemed to finish strong and will looking to book his flight to Melbourne once again. He also played in the 2010 and 2011 AO playoffs.