Arthur Ashe Stadium holds roughly 24,000 fans; the new Louis Armstrong Stadium a little more than 14,000.
Combined, that’s as many people as the entire Principality of Liechtenstein, a small landlocked nation of nearly 38,000 people nestled between Austria and Switzerland that, on Friday, sent its first-ever player into the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Kathinka Von Deichmann beat Martina Trevisan, 6-4, 6-3, in one hour, 25 minutes, to punch her ticket to the 128-player main draw of the 2018 US Open, which begins Monday morning in Flushing Meadows.
“Amazing. It feels amazing,” said Von Deichmann, who comes from Vaduz, Liechtenstein, a country that is 62 square miles in area, where it takes less than 30 minutes to drive the 15 miles from its northern border to its southern tip. “I have no words. I was freaking nervous. I almost died.
“We are a very small country, but I’m really proud to represent my country, and this I think means everything for everybody in Liechtenstein.”
Von Deichmann has not dropped a set in three matches this week at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and now she’ll wait patiently to see where her name will fall in the main draw.
She has a better than 50 percent chance of avoiding one of the six seeded players – a list that includes world No. 9 Julia Goerges and 2009 US Open champion Maria Sharapova – and she has a slim chance of drawing a fellow qualifier, where its winner is likely scheduled to meet reigning champ Sloane Stephens.
Expectations are largely irrelevant now for the 24-year-old, who has done something that no player from her country has ever done before. The reward is seeing her nation’s flag – two horizontal blue and red bars with a gold crown in the top left corner, for those who may not have seen it before – on the scoreboard and inspiring the young players back home.
“This is the first time a person from Liechtenstein is in a Grand Slam main draw, so I hope that people and small kids will look up to me and try to do the same,” she said.
“[It’s] even more special coming from such a small country. I’m super proud to represent Liechtenstein, and I think what I’ve achieved now is super cool for everybody in Liechtenstein.”
Photos: Qualifying Action - Day 4
Since the end of 2015, when Von Deichmann was ranked No. 410 in the world, she has slowly crept up the rankings. She reached No. 285 by the end of 2016 and No. 197 by the close of the 2017 season.
She earned $55,009 through the first eight months of 2018 in her ascent to No. 166 in the world, four places off her career best, which she achieved last month. And she’s now set to earn a guaranteed $54,000 for reaching the first round in New York City.
In an alpine nation where skiing is the No. 1 sport, Liechtenstein is not exactly a hotbed for tennis.
Von Deichmann is the only player of the 1,255 professional tennis players with a WTA ranking from Liechtenstein and one of only two professional players – along with Vital Flurin Leuch, ranked 1,705 in the ATP World Tour, to currently represent their country on the international tennis stage.
Von Deichmann is following in the footsteps of two-time summer Olympian Stephanie Vogt, who reached the second round of the US Open Qualifying Tournament in 2012 and 2014, and former Fed Cup players Angelika Schadler and Marina Novak, who each retired before Von Deichmann turned pro. But none of those three women ever reached the main draw, as Von Deichmann did Friday on Court 5.
“I was super nervous. For sure, you try not to think, but you’re thinking,” Von Deichmann said of match point. “Like, what happens if you make this point? I started to get really, really nervous, but somehow I put the ball back in the court, and after that point, it was just an amazing feeling.
“There’s nothing better than playing main draw in a Grand Slam tournament. I think it’s the dream of every tennis player, so I cannot describe it in words. No exceptions, I would say. I’m just enjoying my time here, and I’ll try to enjoy my match. Whatever comes, I’ll try and enjoy. I’m happy.”