Wow. WOW. I did not expect this coming - and neither, I think, did anyone ekse vaguely interested in the December Showdown for the AO Wildcard. Olivia Rogowska and Marinko Matosevic have won the wildcards, leaving their higher ranked and better known opponents to hope and pray for a discretionary one.
Let's start with Olivia. What a stellar effort. It would have had something of the fairy tale about it to see Dokic win, but can a spirited comeback like the one Rogowska pulled off be denied? She came back from a crushing in the first set and two match points down to win the second and then the third sets of this match. And she has served notice now - she will take on anyone.
I think Rogowska is best known for the time that she took on then-#1 Dinara Safina in the first round of the US Open and very nearly won. Although she's had some good results - like that one - she never seems to have really captured the imagination of the Australian public. For her sake, I hope she manages to go a few rounds at the Open, because as Casey Dellacqua and Jelena Dokic have shown us, there is no surer way to become a national darling than a win a couple of matches in Melbourne in January.
As for the defeated Dokic? She'll be okay. You'd get long odds if you bet she wouldn't get a discretionary wildcard. (Double neg for the win!)
Now. Dudes. Marinko Matosevic, how about you? Five set long haul and you came out on top, beating Peter Luczak (who is no slouch). This is a big, big win, and will see Matosevic going straight into the main draw. My hopes for him are pretty much identical to my hopes for Rogowska - win a match or two, raise your profile. Profile can almost be as important a weapon as a forehand sometimes - if you can get a crowd behind you, create a little fear in an opponent's mind... that can work wonders. Matosevic doesn't have that yet - but, as Luczak would surely know, he's well on his way to earning it.
2 months ago