US.Q- Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of...
And so it begins...
Main draw play begins in Queens on Monday (rain or shine, thanks to the you-know-what), but the preliminary battles have been taking place this week.
A look back at the U.S. Open qualifying rounds:
...one of three qualifiers to win the necessary three matches to reach the MD without losing a set, Townsend lost the fewest total games (19), notching a pair of wins over two Top 10 Q-seeds (#9 Elizaveta Kulichkova and #10 Jennifer Brady). The Bannerette is still looking for her first MD win at the U.S. Open, having lost in her only previous appearance in 2014. Will the Dane provide her with #1?
2. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (23, #153)
...she's baaaack. Remember, the Bracelet put on a Round of 16 run as a qualifier in New York two years ago. After some early-season health issues, Krunic has now qualified at back-to-back slams (and at three of the last four Opens). She notched wins over Olga Govortsova, Kristyna Pliskova and Elitsa Kostova this week. Gibbsy is her 1st Round opponent.
3. Barbara Haas, AUT (20, #140)
...the Austrian will make her slam MD debut after getting upset victories over Andreea Mitu and Jana Cepelova. Haas twice lost in the final round of 2016 slam qualifying before this successful run, falling in both Paris and SW19.
4. CiCi Bellis, USA (17, #158)
...the 17-year old earned the honor of being the second-youngest player in the main draw (16-Kayla Day), losing just eight total games vs. Julia Boserup and Grace Min, then defeating Alison Van Uytvanck in three sets. Bellis thus returns to the site of her '14 coming out party, when she shocked Dominika Cibulkova in the 1st Round at Flushing Meadows. She's the youngest slam qualifier this season.
5. Laura Robson, GBR (22, #243)
...is the Brit finally back? Maybe. Coming off her sweep of the singles and doubles titles at a recent challenger event, Robson also swept into the MD of the Open without dropping a set, putting up wins over Jang Su-jeong, Isabella Shinikova and Tatjana Maria to run her singles match winning streak to eight (and twelve, overall, when you include doubles). Robson, who reached the Open 4th Round in 2012, last won a MD slam match three years ago in New York.
Ana Bogdan, ROU (23, #117): a Florianoplis semifinalist earlier this month, Bogdan will make her slam MD debut thanks to victories of Ysaline Bonaventure and Francoise Abanda.
Montserrat Gonzalez, PAR (22, #194): the second woman from Paraguay (w/ Cepede Royg) to qualify for a slam this season, Gonzalez's wins over Michaella Krajicek, Ivana Jorovic and Viktoriya Tomova means she'll make her slam MD debut.
Richel Hogenkamp, NED (24, #165): The Dutch woman, who shined earlier this year in Fed Cup play during the Netherlands' Miracle in Moscow weekend, defeated Bannerette Asia Muhammad in the Q3 to earn her first U.S. Open MD berth.
Kristina Kucova, SVK (26, #77): the #1 Q-seed, the recent Montreal semifinalist held her postion to reach her first career U.S. Open MD. Kucova's only slam MD win came at Wimbledon in 2009.
Antonia Lottner, GER (20, #184): the German got victories over Amra Sadikovic, Tara Moore and Myrtille Georges and will next make her slam MD debut. Lottner's had success in NYC before, reaching the girls semis at the Open in 2012 and '13.
Elise Mertens, BEL (20, #138): the Waffle is another player who'll make her slam MB debut this coming week, after wins over Luksika Kumkhum, Sesil Karatantcheva and Kristie Ahn.
Jessica Pegula, USA (22, #139): Pegula qualified and notched a 1st Round win at least year's Open, then pushed Cibulkova to three sets in the 2nd. A recent semifinalist in Washington, D.C., she'll make her second career slam MD appearance.
Nadia Podoroska, ARG (19, #232): the Argentine will make her slam MD debut after wins over Oceane Dodin, Jovana Jaksic (2-6/7-6(8)/7-5 in 2:40) and Donna Vekic.
Wang Yafan, CHN (22, #163): Wang joins her countrywoman Duan with a successful qualifying run, with hers including wins over Marina Erakovic and Han Xinyun (in an all-Chinese battle to become the final qualifier on Friday). Her only other career slam MD appearance came in January in Melbourne, after having also made her way through qualifying.
Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (22, #112): the Belgian fell in the final round of qualifying to CiCi Bellis, but slipped into the MD, anyway. Problem is, she's 0-5 in her career in the MD of hard court slams, including two 1st Round exits in NYC the last two years.
NON-QUALIFIERS OF NOTE...
COMEBACK: Melanie Oudin, USA
...Little MO fell in three sets in the second round of qualifying to Myrtille Georges, but her opening win over Caroline Dolehide came in her first match of any kind at the U.S. Open since the final Q-round in 2014, and in only her second appearance at the tournament since 2012. Since being a surprise quarterfinalist in 2009, Oudin has gone 1-3 in MD and 3-1 in qualifying in New York, but that she was actually healthy enough to play at all is a victory all by itself.
FRESH FACES: Amanda Anisimova/USA and Usue Arconada/USA
...both wild card Bannerettes notched wins in the opening round of qualifying. Anisimova, 14, took out #17-seed Veronica Cepede Royg in her first pro match, barely two months since playing in the RG girls final. Meanwhile, 17-year old Arconada, last seen winning the girls doubles at Wimbledon, knocked off Lee Ya-Hsuan in her maiden career women's match at a slam. Both fell in the second round.
DOWN: Tamira Paszek, AUT
...at #3, Paszek was the highest seed to fail to make it out of the qualifying rounds, falling 4 & 2 to Viktoriya Tomova in the world #177's first career slam match of any kind. The Austrian hasn't been in the MD of the U.S. Open since 2012, but had managed to qualifying for both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year.
...6-3/6-4. Many active players (Venus, Oudin, Bellis, Kasatkina, etc.) have flashed big-time in New York while still in their teens, and 14-year old Anisimova added her name to the list, even if her moment in the sun lasted just one round.
2. Q2: Hozumi d. (WC) Anisimova
...6-1/2-6/7-6(1). Not only that, but it ended in super-disappointing fashion, as Anisimova couldn't close out Hozumi despite leading 4-0 in the 3rd and holding a MP.
3. Q2: #15 Maria d. Soylu
...0-6/7-5/6-3. This one didn't start until 11:15 p.m., and ended after 1 o'clock. Had Maria lost, I wonder if she'd have sued the USTA for reimbursement of the overtime she maybe had to pay a babysitter?
4. Q2: #4 Vekic d. Lim
...4-6/7-5/6-3.. Though she lost in the final Q-round, Vekic carried over her Cincinnati confidence to Flushing Meadows. She won this one after staging a comeback from 6-3/3-0 down vs. the Pastry.
5. Q3: (WC) Robson d. #15 Maria
...7-6(5)/6-1. Robson qualified, and Maria didn't threaten to sue anyone. Win-win.
...6-2/6-3. The qualifying draw started with ten sisters, but only Kucova managed to survive the whole three-match stretch to play a fourth time next week.
Q1 - Hozumi d. ULA RADWANSKA 6-4/6-0
Q2 - Krunic d. #16 KRISTYNA PLISKOVA 4-6/6-2/6-0
...it's now up to Aga and Karolina to uphold the family honor in the main draw.
*U.S. OPEN "Q-PLAYER OF THE WEEK" WINNERS*
2006 Chan Yung-Jan, TPE
2007 Alina Jidkova, RUS
2008 Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ & Barbora Strycova, CZE
2009 Eva Hrdinova, CZE
2010 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2011 Romina Oprandi, ITA
2012 Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
2013 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2014 Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
2015 Jessica Pegula, USA
2016 Taylor Townsend, USA
AO: Naomi Osaka, JPN
RG: Viktoriya Golubic, SUI
WI: Mandy Minella, LUX
US: Taylor Townsend, USA
Lauren Davis, USA - the miniature Bannerette notched a MD victory in New York last year
Kayla Day, USA - the 16-year old makes her slam debut after earning a spot by winning the USTA 18s National Championship title. She just defeated Naomi Broady and Kirsten Flipkens in New Haven qualifying.
Danielle Collins, USA - the U-Va. senior gets another Open WC as the reigning NCAA champ. In 2014, she gave Simona Halep a (brief) scare in the 1st Round in Flushing Meadows.
Sonya Kenin, USA - a year after winning the 18s Nat'l Chsp., 17-year old Kenin got her second straight Open WC after winning the USTA Wild Card Playoff during the summer challenger season. She also reached the girls final last year, losing to Dalma Galfi.
Vania King, USA - the comeback continues. King reached the 3rd Round in '09 and '11.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA - Fresh off her Rio Mixed Doubles Gold, BMS gets her second straight Open WC. Last year, she reached the 3rd Round.
Ellen Perez, AUS - the 20-year old Aussie, who's had W-SF-RU results in her three most recent challenger event appearances in Europe this summer, is making her slam debut
Virginie Razzano, FRA - the 33-year old is one of two players (w/ Dodin) awarded multiple slam WC this season. Her loss in last year's Open qualifying rounds ended Razzano's streak of fourteen straight MD appearances in NYC. Here's to starting another 14-year streak... yeah, well, maybe not.
*YOUNGEST 2016 SLAM...*
US - Kayla Day, USA (16)
AO - Kimberly Birrell, AUS (17)
AO - Priscilla Hon, AUS (17)
AO - Maddison Inglis, AUS (17)
US - Sonya Kenin, USA (17)
RG - Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, FRA (17)
WI - Katie Swan, GBR (17)
AO - Oceane Dodin, FRA (19)
RG - Oceane Dodin, FRA (19)
AO - Samantha Crawford, USA (20)
RG - Taylor Townsend, USA (20)
US - Ellen Perez, AUS (20)
US - CiCi Bellis, USA (17)
AO - Naomi Osaka, JPN (18)
RG - Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP (19)
US - Nadia Podoroska, ARG (19)
RG - Louisa Chirico, USA (20)
US - Barbara Haas, AUS (20)
US - Antonia Lottner, GER (20)
US - Elise Mertens, BEL (20)
AO - Maria Sakkari, GRE (20)
WI - Maria Sakkari, GRE (20)
RG - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (20)
RG - Ipek Soylu, TUR (20)
US - Taylor Townsend, USA (20)
=OLDEST 2016 SLAM...=
US - Virginie Razzano, FRA (33)
RG - Virginie Razzano, FRA (33)
WI - Daniela Hantuichova, SVK (33)
US - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (31)
US - Vania King, USA (27)
WI - Marina Melnikova, RUS (27)
WI - Evgeniya Rodina, RUS (27)
RG - Daniela Hantuchova, SVK (33)
RG - Lucie Hradecka, CZE (30)
US - Mandy Minella, LUX (30)
WI - Mandy Minella, LUX (30)
WI - Marina Erakovic, NZL (28)
WI - Tatjana Maria, GER (28)
RG - Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP (28)
WI - Duan Yingying, CHN (26)
US - Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (22)
=LOW-RANKED 2016 SLAM QUALIFIERS=
#247 - Laura Robson, GBR (US)
#232 - Nadia Podoroska, ARG (US)
#223 - Julia Boserup USA (WI)
#213 - Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS (WI)
#211 - Paula Kania, POL (WI)
#196 - Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP (RG)
#194 - Montserrat Gonzalez, PAR (US)
#184 - Antonia Lottner, GER (US)
#175 - Ipek Soylu, TUR (RG)
#172 - Daniela Hantuchova, SVK (RG)
#170 - Maria Sakkari, GRE (AO)
#170 - Luksika Kumkhu, THA (WI)
=MOST 2016 SLAM Q=
2 - Viktoriya Golubic, SUI (AO/RG)
2 - Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (WI/US)
2 - Luksika Kumkhum, THA (AO/RG)
2 - Mandy Minella, LUX (WI/US)
2 - Tamira Paszek, AUT (AO/WI)
2 - Maria Sakkari, GRE (AO/WI)
2 - Wang Yafan, CHN (AO/US)
2 - Maryna Zanevska, UKR (AO/RG)
=MOST 2016 SLAM WC=
2 - Oceane Dodin, FRA (AO/RG)
2 - Virginie Razzano, FRA (RG/US)
=CONSECUTIVE SLAM Q - active streaks=
2 - Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (WI/US)
2 - Mandy Minella, LUX (WI/US)
=CONSECUTIVE U.S. OPEN Q=
2 - Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
2 - Jessica Pegula, USA
=CONSECUTIVE SLAM WC=
=CONSECUTIVE U.S. OPEN WC=
2 - Sonya Kenin, USA (2015-16)
2 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (2015-16)
=CONSECUTIVE SLAM NON-AUTOMATIC ENTRIES - MULTIPLE WAYS=
2 - Duan Yingying, CHN (2016 WI LL, 2016 US Q)
2 - Laura Robson, GBR (2016 WI WC, 2016 US Q)
*BEST 2016 SLAM RESULTS*
QF AO - Zhang Shuai, CHN
3rd Rd. WI - Julia Boserup, USA
3rd Rd. WI - Jana Cepelova, SVK
3rd Rd. WI - Marina Erakovic, NZL
3rd Rd. AO - Naomi Osaka, JPN
2nd Rd. WI - Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS
2nd Rd. AO - Nicole Gibbs, USA
2nd Rd. WI - Mandy Minella, LUX
2nd Rd. AO - Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
2nd Rd. AO - Maria Sakkari, GRE
2nd Rd. WI - Maria Sakkari, GRE
2nd Rd. AO - Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT
2nd Rd. AO - Wang Qiang, CHN
2nd Rd. RG - Louisa Chirico, USA
2nd Rd. RG - Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR
2nd Rd. RG - Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
2nd Rd. RG - Viktoriya Golubic, SUI
2nd Rd. AO - Han Xinyun, CHN
2nd Rd. RG - Myrtille Georges, FRA
2nd Rd. WI - Tara Moore, GBR
2nd Rd. RG - Virginie Razzano, FRA
2nd Rd. WI - Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
2nd Rd. RG - Taylor Townsend, USA
2nd Rd. WI - Duan Yingying, CHN
*2016 SLAM QUALIFIERS BY NATION*
7...United States (1/2/1/3)
3...Czech Repubic (1/2/0/0)
LL: BEL (US), CHN (WI), ESP (RG)
All for now. Open Preview and Week 34 recap to come.