Gauff, Sock get US Open singles wild cards

As previously announced, the US Open organizers went against the WTA age-eligibility rules and decided to hand 15-year-old American Coco Gauff a wild card into the US Open women’s singles.

On the men’s side, former top-10 singles player and former US Open mixed doubles champion Jack Sock heads the list.

Three other young female Americans also were named Tuesday.

Caty McNally, the 17-year-old who won the Citi Open doubles with Gauff and had a wild card into the Cincinnati tournament this week, will join Gauff.

(You’d suspect they’ll get a wild card into the women’s doubles together as well).

Former junior No. 1 Whitney Osuigwe, who is still 17 herself and currently ranked a career-best No. 105, gets one. Of course,

Oswuigwe is only a few withdrawals away from earning the spot on her own merit, with No. 102 Svetlana Kuznetsova having just entered the main draw with the withdrawal of Dominika Cibulkova.

Andreescu
Osuigwe at the US Open last year. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Francesco Di Lorenzo, a 22-year-old lefty who attended Ohio State and qualified at the Rogers Cup last week, also earned a wild-card invitation. She stands at a career-high No. 128 this week.

26 is the new 18

The group on the men’s side is a fair bit older – and definitely has a theme. Bjorn Fratangelo (26), Marcos Giron (26), Denis Kudla (26) join Sock who is – you guessed it – 26.

Sock

Kudla is currently ranked No. 111. But he was right at No. 100 at the entry deadline for the final major of the year. And thus will be next in when someone withdraws.

With players like Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych on that list, that’s a near-certainty.

(UPDATE: Shortly after this announcement, del Potro did in fact pull out, leaving the main-draw spot for Kudla. Chris Eubanks received the wild-card instead, and we would expect that, like last year, he might also team up in the mixed with Coco Gauff).

The announcement today explains why Andy Murray had to make a call Monday about whether or not to take a US Open wild card. He decided not to, as he wasn’t prepared for the grind of best-of-five sets.

That was in line with that he said in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago.

However, there may still be one dangling up there in the case of a sudden change of heart for Murray, because of Kudla’s situation.

Reciprocal wild cards and challenge winner

Australia’s reciprocal wild card has been given to 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, while Diane Parry gets the French federation reciprocal.

The French reciprocal has been awarded to Antoine Hoang, currently ranked No. 101. Hoang, 23, would be close to getting in on his own if this week’s ranking counted.

As it is, he’s fifth in line to get in, on the entry list.

Katie Volynets, who won the girls 18s national event last week also gets one as does Zachary Svajda, who won the boys’ 18s.

Kristie Ahn won the US Open Wild Card Challenge that tabulated results earlier in the hard-court season and earned the final wild card spot. Ernesto Escobedo won the equivalent wild card on the men’s side.

Typically, the Aussies had held a “US Open wild card playoff” in the U.S. to determine that wild card, held at the venue in New Haven. They certainly have a large group of female players competing at the various WTA and ITF tournaments in North America this summer.

But it appears they have just unilaterally handed it to Stosur this year, on the basis of her being a former champion. But their men’s reciprocal remains to be determined.

Qualifying WCs

Men:

JC Aragone
Jenson Brooksby
Maxime Cressy
Sebastian Korda
Stefan Kozlov
Govind Nanda
Sam Riffice
Alex Rybakov
JJ Wolf

Women:

Hailey Baptiste
Reese Brantmeier 
Caroline Dolehide
Vicky Duval
Jamie Loeb
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Emma Navarro
Shelby Rogers
Katrina Scott 

Buss: Jack Sock is making American tennis great again

INDIAN WELLS – In 2016, When Jack Sock announced his ‘Let’s Rally, America’ campaign, an American tennis star was born.

In a sport that often falls short in the marketing of its charismatic stars, Sock became a breath of Midwestern fresh air with his mock presidential campaign.

Declared Sock: “I’ve spent my time on the courts. Now I’m ready to be President.”

If only he’d pulled out a “Make American Tennis Great Again” hat. Tell me you wouldn’t have bought one of those Friday.

Sock is far too young to aspire to the White House, but he can lead the ATP tour into the future – especially if his winning form continues Saturday afternoon in the BNP Paribas semi-finals against Swiss great Roger Federer.

The 24-year-old Nebraska native is just the kind of player America has been waiting for. He hits big shots in big moments. He’s emotive, engaging, brash, and he’s got some dance moves he’s not afraid to bust out. (Watch at the end of the clip below for his slick moves after closing out No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori yesterday).

Fellow Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey may have better playing resumés so far, but Jack Sock is a guy who can fill the seats.

He’s building a legacy as a player who competes, who is clutch, all while being an good sport. Check out this clip from the Hopman Cup last January in Perth, Australia to see for yourself (yes, it’s only an exhibition event, but the point stands).

Sock comes across as a simple guy having a lot of fun out there, and that’s something seriously lacking at the top of the ATP scene.

But he’s not without higher aspirations. One night out on the town with some fellow American players, I’m told he said, “If you want bottle service, ya gotta get the contracts”.

Those friends now call him … ‘Contracts’.

Will Sock ever crack the Top 10? He’s currently at a career high of No. 18 on the ATP Tour singles charts and will rise one spot with his effort at Indian Wells. If he can beat Federer, he would reach No. 15, jumping over his good buddy and fellow Brash Brother Nick Kyrgios.

Aussie Kyrgios and American Sock are close pals – flip sides of the new breed of tennis player who entertains as well as awes. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

He has a forehand that hurts to look at; the spin he puts on it is in Rafa-revolutions territory. After he and Canadian Pospisil defeated the Bryan brothers to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 2014, they said he hit that shot so hard, it was like an overhead. The ball flat-out jumps off his racquet, making him tricky as all can be to play. He has feel at the net to spare, as evidenced by his great success on the doubles court.

Will Sock ever go deep in a Grand Slam? His backhand is an issue, and his service returns can go south. But the guy has an awful lot of game, and he competes.

He’ll need all of that today going up against Federer on Stadium 1.

Will we see another victory dance from Jack Sock this afternoon? Tennis fans across America are ready to get up and join him, if he can pulls off the upset.