Arina Rodionova will play a wildcard semi-final just hours before her wedding to Richmond player Ty Vickery. Picture: Getty Images

RICHMOND big man Ty Vickery has more reasons than normal to urge his tennis-player girlfriend Arina Rodionova to victory on Saturday.

The quicker the semi-final win at Melbourne Park, the more time for the pair to get to their wedding on time.

Yes, Rodionova must endure the extreme heat to play for a shot at an Australian Open wildcard only hours before she exchanges vows with the Tiger forward.

Tournament organisers and her opponent, Storm Sanders, agreed to bring the match forward one hour to 9am.

The wildcard playoff semi-final is to start seven hours before the wedding.

Vickery arrives home on Friday from Richmond’s training camp in far north Queensland so he can watch his long-time Russian-born girlfriend play her crucial match on an outside court at Melbourne Park, with temperature expected to peak at 41C.

Rodionova, the second seed and last year’s runner-up, was too strong for fellow Victorian Destanee Aiava 6-2 6-4 in yesterday’s quarter-final.

Arina Rodionova and Ty Vickery.

Arina Rodionova and Ty Vickery.Source:The Courier-Mail

“She’s going to be quite tricky. She’s a smart player and quite different to how a lot of the other girls play. And she’s a good competitor too,’’ Sanders said.

Maddison Inglis, of WA, booked a semi-final place, beating Queenslander Kaylah McPhee 6-3 7-5. Her opponent is Queensland’s Naiktha Bain, who downed Victorian Belinda Woolcock 6-4 7-6 (7-5).

Weary Sanders couldn’t even rest up in a cool locker room at Melbourne Park after her quarter-final triumph.

If grinding out a tight three-sets win in the sun to stay alive for the wildcard prize wasn’t enough, she had to submit to a drug test. A woman from ASADA approached Sanders as she came off the court following a 4-6 6-2 8-6 win against NSW’s Abbie Myers.

The West Australian left-hander, battling back from injuries over the past two years, fell behind a service break in the third set.

And she had to ward off more break points on serve at 4-4 and again at 5-5 before she finally found a way to put Myers under similar pressure when the tall NSW player served at 6-7.

Myers saved one match point with an ace, but bounced her racquet in frustration after succumbing with a double fault in a cruel end to such a close match.

“It was a tough battle. I watched Abbie play on Tuesday and she was hitting the ball really well. She’s an aggressive player and has a lot of weapons,’’ Sanders said.

“She was serving quite well throughout the whole match. ’’

Sanders fell ill with tonsillitis before last year’s wildcard playoff and Tennis Australia gave her a discretionary wildcard into the 2015 Australian Open women’s singles draw.

She battled a back injury last year and an elbow ailment this year.


By Adam