Fans Return to US Open Qualifying and the World’s Better for It
Steve Fogleman in Fushing Meadows
We’ve had COVID subvariants. Historical Inflation. Supply Chain Issues. Labor Shortages. War.
We’ve all been through so much that anything and everything is comfort food. The resumption of the US Open Fan Week was the most delicious heaping of banana pudding served up all year.
So it was in the home of the birthplace of modern democracy, the most democratic of events is back on after a two year hiatus. For the price of a subway ride, fans have been treated to courtside seats to watch Serena Williams practice in what very well may be her last days on Ashe.
And there are many more treasures on the field courts, where we’ve whittled the field down to a more manageable 64 men and 64 women for a two day sprint in quest of a trip of a lifetime to the main draw next week.
It’s a dizzying array of teens, grizzled journeymen and all player types in between grasping for the prize to be a part of the real deal of this greatness, and we always gravitate toward those who are looking for a life-altering first time grand slam entry. We found a few already in the first round.
Ethan Quinn, ranked #506 and only 18, defeated his first top-200 opponent in compatriot Ernesto Escobedo (#175) to advance to a qualifying semifinal tomorrow against Federico Delbonis (#136) with a chance to claim a second straight top 200 opponent. The 2022 Kalamazoo finalist is a University of Georgia redshirt Freshman.
Linda Fruhvirtova may be only 17, but she has already defeated the likes of Elise Mertens and Vika Azarenka. She was cool as a cucumber after her first round straight sets win over Ylena In-Albon of Switzerland, 6-3-, 6-3 in 1:23 yesterday. Next up for the Czech is Carolina Alves of Brazil tomorrow.
16-year-old Czech competitor Sara Bejlek had the toughest feat of the day on Wednesday and walked away a winner, besting six-time grand slam doubles titlist Kiki Mladenovic. Bejlek edged past the Frenchwoman in the first set, 6-4, before Mladenovic seemingly took control of the match after she won the second, 6-1. But the 16-year-old was not to be outdone, having done it too many times to remember in her young career. “Yeah, I’m like this,” she told me moments after the win. “I’m playing often in three sets. I mean, I’m strong in the head so that’s probably most important why I’m winning three set matches right now,”she said. She definitely took advantage of Mladenovic’s serve in the third and celebrated as her opponent double-faulted the match away. Final Score: 4-6. 6-1, 6-4. Bejlek will meet Australian Priscilla Hon on Court 9 tomorrow around 1pm.
Kateryna Baindl (nee Kozlova) is no Spring Chicken here. At 28, she’s trying to find her way in to a seventh US Open main draw, having reached the second round twice in her career. The Ukrainian spoke to me about the situation in Ukraine after her win over Jesika Maleckova yesterday. Next up for Baindl is Tamara Korpatsch of Germany.
Two matches, two days. Let’s do this!