Birrell wins Aussie Open wildcard playoff

Kimberly Birrell was overcome with emotion after securing a place in next month's Australian Open main draw with victory in the wildcard playoff final in Melbourne.

Eighth-seeded Birrell outclassed fifth-seeded West Australian Astra Sharma 6-4, 6-2 to earn her second grand slam appearance, having previously received a wildcard in 2016.

Wildcard: Kimberly Birrell will play in the 2019 Australian Open main draw.

Wildcard: Kimberly Birrell will play in the 2019 Australian Open main draw.Credit:Darrian Traynor

Birrell's success came after the Queenslander felt like she "started from scratch again" following elbow surgery two years ago that led to her spiralling outside the world's top 1000.

"So many mixed emotions. It all hit me at the end because I knew she was going to put up a fight until the very last point, until we shook hands," Birrell said.


"So I'm just so happy, there's so much joy. I've been waiting for this opportunity and I'm just so glad I could take it.

"I never take anything for granted but I was hopeful and through every single training session you always have to have goals and you have to dream big and that's what I've done.

"It's going to be incredible come January and I'm just super excited."

The 20-year-old suffered a gallant 6-4, 6-4 first-round loss to world No.9 Karolina Plisokova in her only previous Open start three years ago.

"During that AO, I played on Hisense Arena, one of the biggest courts in the world, so I'm definitely going to draw on that experience for sure," said Birrell, who has climbed back to No.288 in the rankings.

The marathon mens playoff final was suspended due to a flash storm with James Duckworth leading Luke Saville two sets to one.

Also continuing a comeback from serious injury, Duckworth was leading the former Australian Open and Wimbledon junior champion 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 3-3 when the heavens opened.


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