Little-known Australian tennis player Ellen Perez will make her grand slam debut at this month’s US Open.
Perez qualified for a wildcard through to the main draw after beating the returning Ash Barty in the final of a Florida tournament to secure the spot over the weekend.
Perez, 20, is ranked world No.725 and won her first minor International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Brussels last month, before reaching the final of a tournament in Belarus earlier this month.
“I’m really excited to utilise this opportunity to be amongst the best in the world and thank Tennis Australia for the wildcard, which could be a big breakthrough for me,” Perez said.
Now based in the US, Perez has a 19-2 record on the ITF circuit since July before winning her way into the Open.
“I believe the matches over in Europe really helped with my confidence and belief in my own game,” she said.
“I am most looking forward to the opportunity to compete in my first Grand Slam singles event, to play in front of the crowd and to learn from this experience for the future.”
Perez joins Sam Stosur and Daria Gavrilova as the only Australian women in the main draw ahead of the end of qualification.
Meanwhile, James Duckworth secured a spot in the men’s draw with a wildcard, despite being beaten in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open on Monday (Tuesday AEST).
Duckworth has dropped to world No.199, largely as a result of an elbow injury, after being a career-best world No.82 in April and May of 2015.
The appearance will be the 24-year-old’s third at the US Open, and he will now join Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman and Jordan Thompson at Flushing Meadows.
“Ducks spent most of the 2015 season inside the world’s top 100 and that’s really the calibre of player he is,” Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said.
“It was unfortunate to see Ducks forced to the sidelines for a few months this year but he bounced back with a great win (at a Challenger tournament) in Bangkok and his ranking will continue to improve.”