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Thursday, June 17, 2021

US Open to Welcome Capacity Crowds, Tickets on Sale July 15; A&M Popular Men's Kickoff Weekend Destination, Florida is Not; Six US Quarterfinalists on Grass

Crowds will return this year at the US Open
photo credit: USTA/Nicole Pereira

The USTA announced today that the US Open will be allowed 100 percent capacity for this year's tournament, which runs from August 30th-September 12th. 

"We are extremely excited to be able to welcome our incredible fans back to the US Open this year,” said Mike Dowse, USTA CEO. “While we were proud that we were able to hold the event in 2020, we missed having our fans on-site, because we know that they are a large part of what makes the US Open experience unlike any other. Indeed, the challenges presented by the pandemic were tough on us all, but our sport came together like never before and tackled each challenge head on. Interest in tennis has accelerated, with four million new and returning players taking to the court last year. Our sport surged in the toughest of times, and this year’s US Open promises to be an unforgettable celebration of the game, those who play it, and those who revel in it.”

Tickets, including grounds passes, go on sale to the general public for all sessions on July 15th. American Express cardholders can purchase tickets beginning July 12th. See this article from usopen.org for more details.

The US Open Junior Championships, which I hope to cover in person, are listed on the ITF Junior website for the second week. It is currently showing a 48-player draw, with a 24-player qualifying draw, but I'm hoping that will change to the standard 64-player draw, which is what the last two junior slams (both French Opens) were, and what the upcoming one at Wimbledon is featuring as well.

The ITA Men's Kickoff Weekend draft was held today, with 45 teams selecting from the 15 the host sites to visit in order to earn a place in next February's ITA Team Indoor Championships. The Top 15 teams in the 2021 final rankings will host three teams, who choose where they want to go based on both geography and on which regional may give them the best chance to beat the host and earn a place in the 16-team draw. Washington is host to the Men's Team Indoor Championships in 2022, so they automatically qualify as one of the 16 teams.

Texas A&M was the first host site to fill up, with the eighth-ranked Aggies set to welcome three Top 25 teams to College Station in January: Arizona[16], Texas Tech[24] and UCLA[25]. Mississippi[14] and Georgia[9] were the second and third regionals to fill up. No one wanted any part of NCAA champion Florida, which didn't get its first team until No. 54 Florida State chose Gainesville. Only one men's team passed: BYU. Unranked Columbia, Harvard and Princeton were the last three teams in, using the exception granted this year to teams from the Northeast. The last ranked team to get in was #75 Portland, due to its ranking in the region. No. 59 William and Mary was the last national at-large team to gain entry.

The complete bracket and draft order is available at SLAM tennis.

Six Americans have reached the quarterfinal stage at various ATP and WTA grass tournaments in Europe this week.

At the WTA 250 in Birmingham England, Coco Vandeweghe has advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who had beaten top seed Elise Mertens in the first round. Vandeweghe hadn't had a main draw win on the WTA tour since her March return from an injury that kept her out more than a year, so this is a significant result for the former Top 10 player.

At the WTA 500 in Berlin, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys are through to the quarterfinals. Pegula continued her domination of Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, beating the No. 4 seed for the fourth time this year, with today's score 7-5, 6-2. Keys defeated top seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 on Wednesday. 

Marcos Giron(UCLA) and Sebastian Korda are into the quarterfinals at the ATP 500 in Halle. Giron, a qualifier, defeated Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4 in the second round yesterday. Stuff had taken out top seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the first round. Korda beat Kei Nishikori of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 today, after taking out No. 6 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the first round. 

Frances Tiafoe, who won the Nottingham Challenger last week, extended his winning streak on grass to seven matches today with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Viktor Troicki of Serbia at the ATP 500 in London.

Nineteen-year-old Jack Draper of Great Britain, who reached the Wimbledon boys final in 2018, received a wild card this week in London and the left-hander has pulled off two consecutive upsets. In the first round, Draper, 309 in the ATP rankings, defeated No. 3 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy 7-6(6), 7-6(2). Today, he continued his domination in tiebreakers, defeating Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 7-6(0). He will face former TCU star Cameron Norrie of Great Britain for a place in the semifinals.

Notable this week on the ITF World Tennis Tour are the results posted by French Open girls champion Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic. Awarded a wild card into the $60,000 tournament in her home country, The 16-year-old Noskova defeated No. 7 seed Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 7-6(5), 6-4 in the first round, and today took out Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-1, 6-7(2), 7-5.