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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, January 9, 2024
It's been a week of extreme emotions for Arina Rodionova. 

The Australian No. 1 upset former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 7-5, 7-6(7) to reach the round of 16 at the Brisbane International last week and rise to a new career-high ranking of No. 104 in the WTA Live Rankings.

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That career peak preceded a painful fall.

On Tuesday, the seventh-seeded Rodionova was knocked out of Australian Open qualifying in a 6-3, 6-4 loss to 146th-ranked Frenchwoman Leolia Jeanjean.

Afterward, the 34-year-old Rodionova, who was bypassed for an Australian Open wild card despite being the nation's No. 1 ranked woman and winning 79 matches across all levels in 2023, ripped into Tennis Australia for what she feels is disrespect.

The Russian-born Rodionova, who received Australian citizenship in January of 2014, said the TA is "very pleased with my result today" and concluded "it is very clear to me that I am not well liked" given Tennis Australia opting against giving her a main-draw wild card.

“The only regret I have from today is I think I gave Tennis Australia something to celebrate … I think they’re very pleased with my result today, and that’s what makes me upset,” Rodionova told the Australian media. “I did everything I could to possibly deserve [an Australian Open wild card]."

Asked if she felt the TA's tact was personal, Rodionova told the Australian media "absolutely."

"It started years and years ago, and there were so many incidents that happened between myself and people in charge," Rodionova said. “It is very clear to me that I am not liked, and it’s not just clear to me, it’s clear to every single Australian tennis player.”

Rodionova is not the only prominent Aussie ignored for an AO main-draw wild card.

Doubles world No. 1 Storm Hunter, a stalwart on the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team, was also bypassed for a main draw wild card.

Hunter, currently ranked No. 179 in singles, is scheduled to face 2022 AO quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi in her AO singles qualifying opener on Court No. 3 on Wednesday.

Former world No. 20 Daria Saville, currently ranked No. 175, was granted an Australian Open main-draw wild card by Tennis Australia, along with fellow Aussies Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Gadecki and world No. 200 Taylah Preston.

Rodionova told Australian media she has no problem with Saville receiving a wild card, her issue is she believes the TA knew all along it would not give her a wild card yet strung her along under the guise of her Brisbane results factoring into a final decision.

The reality, Rodionova asserts, is the TA had no intention on awarding her a main-draw wild card despite the fact she's on the verge of making history as the oldest woman to ever crack the WTA Top 100 for the first time.

“I didn’t really have an issue with them not giving it to me, I had more of an issue with they left it for so long and they pretended they were looking at the results in Brisbane,” Rodionova said. “The decision was probably made before that they didn’t want to give it to me, and they should’ve announced it way before because it just brought such unnecessary stress to myself, also to Dasha, she was also thinking about it."

Photo credit: Chris Hyde/Getty