Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory in his men's singles final… (Ryan Pierse / Getty Images )
The U.S Tennis Assn. announced Tuesday that former top 30 player Bethanie Mattek-Sands, former U.S. Open junior champion Jack Sock and two-time reigning NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson of USC are among the players who will compete in the Australian Open wild-card playoffs, held Dec. 14-16, at Life Time Athletic & Tennis at Peachtree Corners in Norcross, Ga.
The men's and women's winners will earn berths in the Australian Open main draw in January.
Eight men and eight women will compete in the fourth annual playoffs. The USTA secured the opportunity through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia in which the two national tennis federations exchanged wild cards for the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Australian Open.
Sock, the 20-year old who reached the third round of the this year's U.S. Open and claimed the 2011 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with Melanie Oudin, headlines the men’s field at his career-high rank of No. 150. Since winning the 2010 U.S. Open junior championship, becoming the first American to do so since Andy Roddick in 2000, Sock has won three USTA Pro Circuit titles, including a Challenger in October, to rise nearly 500 spots in the rankings in the last two years.
The 22-year old Johnson, who won NCAA singles titles at USC in 2011 and 2012, also headlines the men’s field after advancing to the third round of the U.S. Open and winning a USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title this summer.
Leading the women’s field is Mattek-Sands, who was ranked a career-high No. 30 in the world in July 2011 before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. She teamed with Romanian Horia Tecau to win the mixed doubles title at the 2012 Australian Open. The 27-year old Fed Cup veteran has played in 12 straight U.S. Opens and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon (2008) and the third round of the French Open (2011).
The men’s field also includes Stanford's Bradley Klahn, a 22-year-old from Poway, Calif., the 2010 NCAA singles champion who reached the second round of the 2012 U.S. Open; and UCLA's Daniel Kosakowski, 20, of Huntington Park and a former UCLA star who won back-to-back USTA Pro Circuit Futures championships in September.
Also competing in the women’s field are former top-ranked Georgia Tech singles star Irina Falconi, 22, a onetime world No. 73 and Pan American Games gold medalist who reached the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open; Mallory Burdette, a former Stanford standout who reached the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open; Madison Keys, 17, of Rock Island, Ill., last year’s Australian Open wild-card playoff winner and the second-youngest player ranked in the WTA top 140; Maria Sanchez, 23, of Modesto, once the top-ranked college singles player at USC; and Alexa Glatch, 21, of Newport Beach.
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