Australian Open 2012: Rainer Schuettler to Miss First Main Draw Since 1998

Shane LambertAnalyst IIJanuary 13, 2012

Rainer Schuettler
Rainer SchuettlerOli Scarff/Getty Images

A familiar name will be missing from the Australian Open draw this season as Rainer Schuettler has fallen in the second round of qualifying at Melbourne Park.

Schuettler, 35 years old, fell to 26-year-old Alexander Kudryavtsev on Friday from Melbourne 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-8.

The loss means that Schuettler will not be part of the main draw at Melbourne Park for the first time in 14 years. A former finalist at the Australian Open, Schuettler had been a part of the main draw for men's singles every year since and including 1999.

A former top-five player, Schuettler has career victories at Melbourne Park over Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian.

Schuettler's most noteworthy career accomplishment is his championship match appearance at the 2003 Australian Open, where he lost to Andre Agassi in straight sets.

At the age of 35, Schuettler is playing and trying to compete at an age when most players already have long since retired. However, as he continues to slide down the rankings, you have to think that he keeps taking more and more steps closer to retirement.

He will turn 36 in a few months and he is already having an increasingly difficult time making it into the main draw of tour-level events.

It's hard to picture the German staying in the Top 200 for the entire season against increasingly younger competition.