Win and you’re in. That was the message for 64 players aiming to book their place in the main draw of the US Open as the four-day qualifying tournament wrapped up on Friday.
In total, 16 spots were up for grabs in each of the men’s and women’s singles draws. And with so much riding on the outcome of the best-of-three matches around the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, it was no surprise that emotions were running high.
It proved to be a special time for many of the players in the men's draw. Ten of the men who qualified Friday will be making their UsOpen main-draw debut next week, with five of those, Darian King of Barbados, Vaclav Safranek of Ukraine, Maximilian Marterer of Germany, Evan King of the U.S., and J.C. Aragone of America, reaching the main draw of any major for the first time.
With emotions, come celebrations. And it seemed like every player had their own way of putting their heart on their sleeve.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, the No. 2 seed in the men’s draw, threw both arms above his head when Jan Satral’s forehand down the line sailed long on a packed Court 13, and France’s Vincent Millot let out a guttural scream in the direction of his team after rallying to beat Simone Bolelli in three sets on court 14.
American wild card Aragone tossed his baseball cap and climbed up the raised seating on Court 7 to embrace his team, while Lesley Kerkhove and Mikhail Kukushkin each raised a triumphant right fist in the air in the direction of her coach. Russia’s Anna Blinkova made the four points of a cross on her forehead and chest after beating Bernarda Pera in Louis Armstrong Stadium, and Sachia Vickey spontaneously dropped her racquet and covered her face with both palms after defeating fellow American Jamie Loeb inside Court 10.
The fourth and final day of qualifying also saw the top seeds in both the men’s and women’s draw crash out. Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer lost to No. 18 seed Maximilian Marterer of Germany and Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei fell to unseeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
Several Americans also secured safe passage into the main draw. Allie Kiick defeated Victoria Duval in a contest between two American friends who had overcame cancer, Danielle Lao toppled No. 20 seed Jana Fett of Croatia and Tim Smyczek was victorious against Canadian 20th seed Peter Polansky. In one of the final matches to finish, Nicole Gibbs beat Naomi Broady in three sets to reach the US Open main draw for the fifth time in her career.
The winners will be placed into the main draw bracket later Friday upon competition of all the matches. The men’s and women’s singles draw were revealed earlier in the day, with empty spaces assigned for qualifiers.
Five seeds will play qualifiers in the first round. They are fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, No. 9 seed Venus Williams, No. 18 seed Caroline Garcia, No. 17 Elena Vesnina and No. 25 Daria Gavrilova.
On the men’s draw, half of the qualifiers will face a seed in the first round. The seeds are No. 4 Alex Zverev, No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 17 Sam Querrey, No. 21 seed David Ferrer, No. 22 Fabio Fognini, No. 26 seed Richard Gasquet and No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson.
Additionally, one qualifier will also play American wild card Patrick Kypson, who won the USTA Boys’ 18 Nationals earlier this month.