Bjorkman gets a final Olympic dream with wildcard entry

July 1st, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 1 (DPA) Veteran Jonas Bjorkman and teenager Kei Nishokori were among a dozen players thrown a lifeline with tennis wildcards into the Beijing Olympic tournament. Bjorkman, who will bow out after the August event from a career of nearly two decades, had dreamed of getting a free entry so he could go out of the game in style.

Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event when he claimed Delray Beach in February.

Wildcard places in Olympic tennis are awarded to players who do not meet the direct acceptance requirements of the tournament but who, in the view of the ITF Olympic Committee, meet other criteria that would enhance the field for the 2008 competition.

Australian Alicia Molik received a free entry on the women’s side after battling with illness followed by an elbow injury.

Other women included: Maria Koryttseva of the Ukraine, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan, Ayumi Morita of Japan, Spain’s Nuria Llagostera-Vives and Tunisian Selima Sfar.

“This is probably the best news I’ve had since 2004,” said Molik. “I’ve played in two Olympics and I have to say they’re the absolute highlight of my career.”

Added Bkorkman: “This is fantastic news, it was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player.

“It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.”

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