#NextGenATP De Minaur, Kwon Earn Australian Open Wild Cards
The 2018 season is still two weeks away, yet a pair of #NextGenATP stars are already carrying significant momentum into their new campaigns. Alex de Minaur and Soon-woo Kwon continue to make great strides in their push towards the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with both securing main draw wild cards at the Australian Open.
On Sunday, 18-year-old De Minaur, the highest-ranked Aussie teen, won the Australian Open Wild Card Play-off with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-1 victory over Alex Bolt. The World No. 208 will make his second straight appearance at his home Grand Slam, after reaching the second round on debut in 2017.
"I feel like I thoroughly deserve this one – that’s what happens when you are actually playing for one," De Minaur said following the match. "I couldn’t be happier with my level and I can't wait for the Australian summer to come.
"I think I’ve still got a lot to get better at. But this week my level was great throughout. I didn’t think I dropped my concentration at all."
In January, De Minaur crashed onto the scene with a thrilling five-set upset of Gerald Melzer in his debut Down Under. And the former junior No. 2 would later crack the Top 200 for the first time after finishing runner-up at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Segovia, Spain, in August.
Kwon, meanwhile, will make his tour-level debut after winning the Asia-Pacific Wild Card Play-off. The 20-year-old Korean did not drop a set throughout the competition, sealing his place in the first Grand Slam of the year with a 6-1, 6-1 win over China's Zhe Li. The play-off exclusively features players from the Asia-Pacific region.
It has been an impressive conclusion to 2017 for #NextGenATP Koreans, following Hyeon Chung's victory at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last month. Kwon will look to build on a career-high of No. 168 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after posting a 27-17 record on the ATP Challenger Tour this year. He reached his first finals in Yokohama (l. to Sugita) and Seoul (l. to Fabbiano).
The 2018 Australian Open begins on 15 January.