Six players get wild cards for Australian Open

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John Isner

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Americans John Isner and 16-year-old Christina McHale were among six players granted wild cards Thursday into the main draw of Australian Open.

Under exchange agreements with tennis federations from the United States, France and Asia, Isner and McHale, Adrian Mannarino and Kristina Mladenovic of France, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and China's Yuan Meng have been awarded spots in the season-opening major which begins Jan. 19.

Isner, who appeared in the main draw of all four Grand Slams in 2008, and McHale, who will be making her Grand Slam debut, won the USTA wild-card tournament in Florida last month. McHale led the U.S. to a Junior Fed Cup title in Mexico in September.

Mannarino has improved by nearly 200 ranking points in the past 12 months and is now No. 129. Mladenovic, 15, has a world junior ranking of 11.

Istomin will be making his third appearance at the Australian Open. He lost in straight sets to then No. 1-ranked Roger Federer on Rod Laver Arena in 2006. He was awarded a wild card in 2008, when he won his first-round match and stretched Lleyton Hewitt to four sets before losing in the second round.

Yuan played the qualifying tournament last year at Melbourne, then beat Russia Ekaterina Ivanova in the first round of the main draw before losing to Serena Williams in the second.

Colin Ebelthite and former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic won the Australian wild-card tournament. The final discretionary wild cards -- four men and four women -- will be announced next week.
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