Dreams Made For 16 Men, 16 Women As US Open Qualifying Finishes

Emma Raducanu (photo: @EmmaRaducanu/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, August 28, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Some of the names are more familiar than others like Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu and Maxime Cressy of the United States. We know them from ATP Challengers and ITF World Tennis Tour events – or, in the case of Raducanu, from making a splashy Cinderella-like debut earlier this summer in the main draw at the Wimbledon Championships and reaching the fourth round.

This week, those whose world rankings weren’t good enough to gain direct entry into the US Open, the year’s final major, competed in the US Open Qualifying Tournament in search of earning one of 16 men’s and 16 women’s berths in the main draw. It took three victories in a four-day stretch to get the job done.

Throughout Friday, there were plenty of tears of joy as well as tear of disappointment. For some, like Denmark’s 18-year-old Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, who also qualified, he had to wait out a three-and-a-half hour rain delay that suspended play starting about 4 p.m. just to win one last game in order to qualify. The 145th-ranked Rune defeated No. 239 Mats Moraing of Germany, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Rune’s reward? He will play his first-round match in the main draw on Tuesday evening against World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Among the Friday winners were the 150th-ranked 18-year-old Raducanu from London, who beat No. 95 Mayar Sherif of Egypt, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 14 minutes. The 31st seed Raducanu outpointed her opponent 63-40, and advanced to face No. 13 seed Jennifer Brady of the United States.

“I thought today I’d give it absolutely everything I’ve got physically, because I knew if I got through it, I’d have two days off,” Raducanu said during an interview with ESPN’s Brad Gilbert following her win. “Definitely motivation, the last round, it’s always easy to try to push yourself to the absolute max, and that’s what I thought I did well today.”

Also, the No. 29 seed Cressy, a French-born American who resides in Hermosa Beach, Calif., advanced to the main draw for the second straight year. The 151st-ranked Cressy garnered a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 224 Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium. Next, he will play No. 9 seed Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain.

While third round wrapped up mostly according to plan and seed, there were some nice surprises, too. Among them, 42-year-old Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, ranked 223rd, served his way into the main draw with three wins this week. He fired 25 aces in his 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over No. 15 seed Yuchi Sugita of Japan in the final of 16 men’s matches to be completed. Now, he’s into the main draw for the 17th time going back to 2003, when he was only 24. He’s only made it as far as the fourth round once at the US Open, in 2016. Come Monday, Karlovic will try again, this time against World No. 7 and fifth seed Andrey Rublev on the Grandstand.

US Open qualifying draw Friday results

US Open Monday order of play

Ymer stuns Alcaraz, first Swedish ATP Tour finalist in decade

Robin Soderling was the last Swede to reach an ATP Tour final, winning the title at Bastad in 2011. Now, add 90th-ranked Mikael Ymer, who stunned 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Winston-Salem Open Friday evening at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The 22-year-old Ymer won seven consecutive games, turning a 3-5 first-set deficit into a 7-5, 3-0 lead en route to his triumph over the 15th seed Alcaraz.

Ymer will face No. 63 Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, who rolled to a  6-2, 6-1 win over Finland’s 76th-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori in the other semifinal. Ivashka will attempt to become the first player from Belarus to win an ATP Tour singles crown since Max Mirnyi in 2003 at Rotterdam.

“I feel good physically and mentally and I’m just trying to play my best tennis,” Ivashka said, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “I like to play on hard courts, so it’s all coming together this week.”

Meanwhile, unseeded Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands rallied to beat Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 10-6, in one hour and 53 minutes to clinch their first title in their first final as a team this season after a pair of semifinal finishes in Marbella and Rome.

Kontaveit reaches Tennis In The Land final in Cleveland

No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit bested No. 7 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, 6-4, 6-4, to set up a Saturday final against No. 74 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in the inaugural WTA 250 Tennis In The Land in Cleveland, Ohio. Begu defeated No. 6 seed Magda Linette of Poland, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Cornet to face Svitolina in Chicago Women’s Open final

No. 9 seed Alizé Cornet of France turned around her match against No. 88 Varvara Gracheva of Russia to advance to Saturday’s final of the WTA 250 Chicago Women’s Open. The 68th-ranked Cornet dropped the opening set 6-4, then lost just one more game the rest of the one hour and 59 minute match. She won 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 and will face No. 1 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who defeated No. 59 Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

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What they’re writing

“Quotable …”

“I feel pretty confident with where I am right now. Of course, I’m not, like, declaring that I’ll do amazing here. For me, I’m the one-match-at-a-time like person.”

Naomi Osaka, US Open women’s No. 3 seed on her pre-US Open and current form.

“Tennis is similar to chess. When I’m on the court, I never think about chess. But I think about what shot do I hit next to put my opponent into my trouble.”

Daniil Medvedev, US Open men’s No. 2 seed, during his Media Day press conference on the correlation between tennis and chess. By the way, Medvedev is a a huge “Queen’s Gambit” fan.

“It’s nice to be back. This tournament thrives on the energy. I can’t wait to get started.”

– Women’s No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty, during her Media Day press conference, on being back after missing the 2020 US Open due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“What better fans to have in our first 100 percent full-capacity event than the local New York crowd. That’s what makes the US Open, the US Open.”

Reilly Opelka of the United States on having fans back at the US Open this year after last year’s tournament was played behind closed doors.