There were plenty of fist pumps Tuesday on Court 12 from one of the newest American women on tour. Former Ohio State University standout Francesca Di Lorenzo fought through qualifying to earn her Grand Slam debut, and surprised US Open fans by topping fellow American Christina McHale in Round 1, 6-1, 7-6. Di Lorenzo was down set point in the second set but climbed her way out of trouble to reach the second round.
A native of New Albany, Ohio, Di Lorenzo entered the US Open ranked No. 193 in the world. She turned pro in 2017 after her sophomore year with the Buckeyes, and she ended her collegiate career as a two-time NCAA All American. Not only did she produce a 74-7 singles record, she also claimed the 2017 NCAA Doubles title with partner Miho Kowase.
Di Lorenzo competed on the international stage in college as well, being selected by the USTA to represent Team USA at the 2016 Master’U BNP Paribas Collegiate Tournament in France. She joined five other American collegians to capture first place among eight nations in the collegiate version of Davis Cup or Fed Cup.
USOpen.org caught up with the 21-year-old after her second-round win.
USOpen.org: What has the last week been like for you, going through qualifying and now into the second round?
Francesca Di Lorenzo: It’s been incredible and so exciting. To even get past my first round of qualifying was so tough. So I’ve been taking it one match at a time and trying to go on from there. If you told me a week ago and a half ago when I arrived that I would be in the first week of a Slam, I would have been shocked. It just shows to never limit yourself and always believe that if you have a chance, you can do it.
Photos: Americans feel the heat on Day 2
USOpen.org: What is more nerve-wracking, being the deciding match to give Ohio State a victory, or playing at the US Open?
Francesca Di Lorenzo: For sure the college match. You have eight other girls on the sideline that have worked so hard and you are playing for them, your coaches and your program. At least when you’re out here, it’s just you. So when you lose [at this level], it’s on you. But when you’re playing college tennis and you lose, your team loses. I hate to say it in a bad way, but you disappoint eight other girls and that’s the worst feeling in the world. When you win, it’s the best feeling in the world.
USOpen.org: This was not only your first win at a Slam, but your first WTA main-draw win as well. When you truly think about that fact, what goes through your mind, especially when you look back on when you first started playing when you were young?
Francesca Di Lorenzo: I would never have thought I’d be in this position right now. My dream was always to play in the US Open and play in front of a crowd, and to actually be here and doing that is crazy. It’s a little surreal. So I’m going to take it and run with it.
USOpen.org: You’ve played in US Open Qualifying Tournament before, but now that you’re time here has been extended, what have you enjoyed the most?
Francesca Di Lorenzo: Just being outside playing and seeing some of the people that you know. Someone yelled, “Do it for New Albany!” Just to hear that and know that they are from [my hometown] is amazing. The atmosphere has been the best.
USOpen.org: What has it been like training at the new USTA National Campus in Orlando?
Francesca Di Lorenzo: They have so many resources, and everything is right there, so it’s very convenient. They have the fitness and training rooms, and treat you like a professional. They want to make it easy for athletes to train and do the work you need to do.