The fourth and final day of the US Open Qualifying Tournament saw a bevy of talented teenagers join other several players in qualifying for their first-ever appearances in the main draw of the US Open.
Leading the way was reigning French Open boys’ singles champion Tommy Paul. The 18-year-old, who received a wild card into the qualifying draw, displayed a game that belied his world ranking of No. 426 in dispatching veteran Marco Chiudinelli, 6-1, 6-4. With the win, Paul became the sixth qualifying wild card recipient in the last 20 years to advance into the men's singles main draw. Only one of those players (Bradley Klahn in 2012) won his opening-round match in the main draw.
Joining Paul in the main draw was 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko, who reeled off eight consecutive games at one stage in dispatching fellow teenager CiCi Bellis, 6-3, 6-2.
“I really wanted to be in the main draw, so it means a lot to me,” said Ostapenko after the match. “Every girl that I played was tough, so I just tried my best on every point and am really happy to make it.”
Ostapenko made headlines earlier this summer by dropping just two games in defeating world No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening round of Wimbledon. She has since used that victory as a springboard to achieve her current career-high ranking of No. 114.
“I thought before that match that the Top 10 was so far away. But when I started that match, I realized that I could be there as well if I showed my best tennis,” she said. “It gave me confidence and know I understand that I can also play at that level as well.”
Several other players who won Friday will now be making their first-ever appearances in the main draw of any Grand Slam: Kateryna Kozlova, Jessica Pegula, Maria Saakari and Mayo Hibi.
The most favorable qualifier spot on paper in the men’s singles draw is an all-qualifier opening round battle in the third quarter, while the least favorable spot would be against reigning men’s singles champion and No. 9 seed Marin Cilic.
In the women’s singles draw, the least most favorable qualifier spots, by rank of opponent, would be against wild cards Louisa Chirico and Sachia Vickery, while the least sought-after spots would be against either No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova or No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova.
All first-round main draw matches will take place either Monday or Tuesday.