Wawrinka, Azarenka, Kuznetsova given US Open wild cardsStan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, serves to Diego Schwartzman, of Argentina, in the first round at the Western & Southern Open, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stan Wawrinka never got to defend his 2016 U.S. Open title, forced to miss last year's tournament because of a knee injury that dropped him far down the rankings.
The U.S. Tennis Association made sure he has a spot this year.
Wawrinka and former women's No. 1 Victoria Azarenka received wild cards Tuesday for the year's final Grand Slam tournament. So did Svetlana Kuznetsova, another U.S. Open champion.
Wawrinka's ranking has fallen from No. 3 to No. 151 after he needed two left knee surgeries that have limited him to just 21 matches on tour this season. The three-time Grand Slam champion reached the round of 16 last week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto before falling to top-ranked Rafael Nadal, and beat 12th-seeded Diego Schwartzman in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday.
Azarenka has twice won the Australian Open and was the U.S. Open runner-up in 2012 and 2013, but she didn't play in Flushing Meadows last year because of a custody dispute with her son's father. She is ranked No. 87, one spot ahead of Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion who won the title recently in Washington.
The July 16 rankings were used to determine direct entries into the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 27.
The USTA provided additional spots through wild cards, including to rising American teenagers Amanda Anisimova and Claire Liu. Anisimova, 16, was the 2017 U.S. Open girls' singles champion. Liu, 18, was the 2017 Wimbledon girls' singles champion and reached the second round in the main draw in London this year.
Also receiving wild cards on the women's side were USTA Girls' 18s national champion Whitney Osuigwe, U.S. Open wild-card challenge winner Asia Muhammad and Harmony Tan of France. An additional spot will go to an Australian woman.
American men Noah Rubin, Tim Smyczek and Michael Mmoh received entries into the main draw, along with USTA Boys' 18s national champion Jenson Brooksby, U.S. Open wild-card challenge winner Bradley Klahn, Corentin Moutet of France and Jason Kubler of Australia.