Saturday, September 4, 2021

Kang, Rabman and Xu Qualify for US Open Junior Championships; Brooksby Youngest American Since Roddick to Reach Fourth Round at US Open; Rogers Upsets World No. 1 Barty

There were more surprises today in the final round of qualifying for the US Open Junior Championships, with the No. 2 seeds both falling and two American wild cards advancing to the main draw.

Sixteen-year-old Kyle Kang, who earned his wild card into qualifying by finishing in fifth place last month in the USTA 18s Nationals in Kalamazoo, took out No. 2 seed Coleman Wong of Hong Kong 6-1, 3-6, 10-5 and will make his junior slam debut Monday in New York. Kang, a Fullerton California resident, won both his matches this weekend in match tiebreakers; four of the six boys who advanced to the main draw did so by winning match tiebreakers today.

Another 16-year-old wild card, Theadora Rabman, also excelled in tiebreakers, beating No. 6 seed Victoria Mboko of Canada 6-3, 2-6, 10-4 yesterday and No. 11 seed Alejandra Cruz of Mexico 6-1, 6-7(4), 10-1 today to qualify.  Rabman, the 16s Easter Bowl champion, was the top seed at the Girls 16s Nationals last month in San Diego when she fell in her first match in the second round. She went on to win eight matches in the backdraw before losing to Orange Bowl 16s champion Valeria Ray. The New Yorker has played only two previous ITF Junior Circuit tournaments before this one, at the J4 and J5 levels.

No. 4 seed Valencia Xu managed to advance to the main draw without needing a match tiebreaker. The 18-year-old from New Jersey defeated unseeded Mia Kupres of Canada 6-3, 7-6(1) today at the Cary Leeds Tennis Center and will play in the main draw of the US Open for the first time. Xu lost in the first round of the French Open and Wimbledon this summer, both times to the runner-up. 

The day after top seed and College Park J1 champion Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic went out, College Park J1 finalist Mirra Andreeva of Russia, the No. 2 seed, was beaten by Pimrada Jattavapornvanit of Thailand, seeded seventh, 6-4, 7-5. They had met two weeks ago in the semifinals at College Park, with Andreeva taking that match 6-3, 6-2. So both promising 14-year-olds will have to wait another year for their US Open main draw debut.

According to the tournament referee, there is a lucky loser spot available in the girls draw after a late withdrawal, and Katja Wiersholm, who lost to Canada's Annabelle Xu 6-3, 6-3 today, is No. 1 on the lucky loser list, so she should be in the draw when it's released tomorrow. It is scheduled for 11 a.m., so I hope it is published by early afternoon.

The ITF Junior Circuit website has a US Open preview out; I will be writing my first article for the them Sunday, after the draw is released. Play begins Monday for the unseeded players.

It's been a thrilling first week of the Open and Americans are providing highlights galore. In a match that finished after 2 a.m., Frances Tiafoe took out No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1 to reach the fourth round Sunday. He'll play No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the first match of the night session on Ashe.

Wild card Jenson Brooksby advanced to the fourth round with another marathon win, beating No. 21 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Although the 2018 Kalamazoo 18s champion has played longer matches in elapsed time this week, this was the first five set match of his career. At 20, he is the youngest American to reach the fourth round of the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2002. His opponent in the Round of 16 is none other than World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is, of course, seeking the calendar grand slam.

Brooksby said in his press conference that he will try to treat that as he would any other match.

"Yeah, it will be a great challenge. One of the toughest there can be," Brooksby said. "But I'm really believing in myself with what I'm showing out there so far. I got a great team around me to help me recover tomorrow. Yeah, I go out there to battle again on I'm sure Ashe probably, I would assume. Yeah, I mean, that will be really exciting. I'm sure it will be a full crowd. I'm excited to see how well I can focus, see how well I can play with one of the biggest challenges and with one of the biggest crowds in a court that you can get."

And tonight, Shelby Rogers, the last American woman standing, came from two breaks down in the third set to beat World No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5).

Reilly Opelka joined Brooksby and Tiafoe in the round of 16, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia tonight 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4. It's the first fourth round appearance of Opelka's career at a slam.

The other American still in singles, wild card Jack Sock, is playing No. 4 seed and 2020 US Open finalist Alexander Zverev of Germany in the Ashe night match.

Saturday's third round singles results of Americans:
Shelby Rogers d. Ashleigh Barty[1](AUS) 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5)
Belinda Bencic[11](SUI) d. Jessica Pegula[23] 6-2, 6-4

Alexander Zverev[4](GER) d. Jack Sock[WC] 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-1 ret.
Reilly Opelka[22] d. Nikoloz Basilashvili(GEO) 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4
Jenson Brooksby[WC] d. Aslan Karatsev[21](RUS) 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3


Anonymous said...

Hi. I believe A. Krickstein was the youngest R16 player. In 1983 he won the Zoo beating P. McEnroe in 4. Krickstein played Edberg in the first round beating him 76 in the 5th and along the way beating Vitas ultimately losing to Y. Noah in three. He was 16 I believe maybe 17.

Tom Steiglehner