Qualifying Finals Set at 2016 US Open
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
This is my favorite part of qualifying, when one match now stands between these players basking in the glory of participating in a grand slam main draw and getting a $43,300 check just for showing up at that match. In the past, a loss in qualifying meant very little in compensation. This year, the USTA increased the prize money so that qualifiers who make it to the third round receive over $10,000. Trust me, that money barely covers their expenses. To make for a very profitable trip to New York, you’ve got to qualify. And we’ve got 32 final money matches on tap today after we sorted the second round on Thursday in Flushing Meadows.
Court 5 was loaded with Americans on Thursday, but only one of them pulled through to the big money round. 14-year-old Amanda Anisimova showed poise in winning the second set against Japan’s Eri Hozumi, but the young American got a taste of future heartbreak when she set up a third set tiebreak only to lose it at 1. After the Anisimova match, Jesse Pegula took the court, and few would have guessed that her straight sets win over An-Sophie Mestach would be the sole American victory on that court. Ilya Ivashka bested Ryan Shane, France’s Myrtille Georges shocked Melanie Oudin in a rain-punctuated affair and Reilly Opelka was forced to retire in the third set against Santiago Giraldo.
Pegula was satisfied with her win today, after losing to Mestach recently. “I’m feeling really good. I thought today was a really good win. I knew I was going to have to be mentally tough today, given the conditions and because I lost to her a few weeks ago,” she said. After a rough start to the year, she made the semis at Citi Open last month. “I don’t know what it is, maybe I just warm up by this time of year”, she joked. “I’m excited and have a lot more tournaments after this too, and excited to end this year with some good momentum.”
Today, she’ll try to qualify for the event for the second consecutive year. “Qualifying, I would say, is so tough. I almost think it’s tougher than if you were playing in the main draw because obviously everyone is so hungry. Everyone wants to do well and it’s such a big stage”, she said.
Asia Muhammad also had a statement win to stay alive for Friday’s big money round with a 6-2, 6-2 knockout of Cindy Burger.
There’s no exhaustion on her part during this qualifying marathon. “I actually feel better than I did after the first (qualifying) match”, she told us. On the rigors and advantages of qualifying, she agreed with Pegula. “If you can qualify, I think it’s nice getting into the main draw having some matches under your belt, getting used to the court, so I actually think it can you help you sometimes when you’re playing someone who hasn’t even played a match yet”.
By my count, there are only two players staying at my hotel, Myrtille Georges and Viktoriya Tomova. Both players are little known in these parts, and both of them are still standing. If they both win today, I’m crediting it to the legit massage parlor downstairs and the fabulous breakfast on the rooftop and inviting Melanie Oudin to stay here next year.