The USTA's announcement of the men's US Open wild cards early this afternoon caught me by surprise. Last year it was the Wednesday after the Nationals that the names were released. If you don't recall who received the wild cards last year, click here. None of the players who received a main draw wild card last year got one this year.
The main draw wild cards have gone to:
Carsten Ball (Australia)
Guillaume Rufin (France)
The eighth will be determined by the wild card playoff that begins Wednesday morning in Boca Raton.
There were no real surprises in this group, with Sweeting and Young the highest ranked players from the US not already in.
It appears that Australia and France diverge in their thinking regarding wild cards this year. (I don't think they held tournaments to decide them, but if someone knows otherwise, please let me know). Australia opted against giving a wild card to 17-year-old Bernard Tomic, who is in the qualifying on his own ranking, and also bypassed the more highly ranked Chris Guccione in favor of Ball, while France elected to elevate 19-year-old Rufin, over five others from France in the qualifying who are ranked higher, including Wimbledon marathon man Nicolas Mahut.
I believe it's clear from the USTA's selections that they are encouraging those eligible for the 18s National junior wild card in Kalamazoo to compete for it. Many people expressed the opinion last year that Ryan Harrison did not play Kalamazoo because he knew he already had a main draw wild card sewn up. That was not true, and the fact that he and Alex Domijan did not receive wild cards this year indicates the USTA is sending a consistent message.
The qualifying wild cards went to:
Bob van Overbeek
Buchanan, Collarini, Jenkins and Johnson are also competing in the tournament for the main draw wild card, so if one of them wins, I think that will open up another qualifying wild card. For those who doubt the USTA's commitment to college tennis, five of the nine qualifying wild cards went to members of the USTA's Summer Collegiate team.
I'm surprised that Domijan is not on this list. I also wonder about the absence of Denis Kudla. Could it be that there was more riding on the outcome of that third and fourth place match between Cox and Kudla in Kalamazoo than we thought?
For the full article on the men's wild cards, see usopen.org. Last year the women's wild cards were announced the day after the men's.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010