Top 10: Big names in US Open qualifying

Published by Bastien Thorne

What's a guy got to do to get a US Open maindraw wildcard? Photo: Getty Images
With US Open qualifying starting today, we thought we’d check out some of the big name players chasing a spot in the main draw.

Maria Sharapova was supposed to be playing in it, but got a wildcard into main draw in the end. The same is true for home hopefuls Taylor Fritz and Cici Bellis. Some, however, weren’t so lucky. With US Open qualifying starting later today, we thought we’d check out ten names who, for one reason or another, you might be surprised to find toiling in qualies:

1. Vera Zvonareva plays Han [17]
Not so much a ‘why are you in qualies?’ more of a ‘what have you been up to?’ Giving birth, that’s what. Yes, Zvonareva is back from baby making and having a crack at Flushing Meadows. As a former finalist (2010) and world No.2, the Russian knows what it takes to do the business in New York.

RELATED: Woodbridge – Not sold on the US Open Qualies shot clock

2. Denis Shapovalov plays Kudla
What’s an 18 year-old got to do to get a Wildcard? Beat the top seed at the tournament and crack the Top 100?! Oh wait, Shapovalov did that. Until two weeks ago, the Canadian was best known for nearly killing an umpire during the Davis Cup. Then came the Rogers Cup and an inspiring run to the semis (beating now world No.1 Rafael Nadal along the way). The current world No.69 missed the cut off for direct entry, and so is left to toil…

3. Leonardo Mayer [1] plays Janvier
Like Shapovalov, another victim of bad timing. Not so much because of his Grand Slam exploits, rather because of his ranking. After winning Hamburg a month ago as a Lucky Loser, the Argentinian’s ranking rocketed to No.52. Still, he had missed main draw cut off, and now finds himself battling it out in qualifying.

4. Patty Schnyder plays Bonaventure
It’s 20 years since Patty Schnyder made her debut at the US Open (and seven since she last appeared at Flushing Meadows). The former world No.7 is a bit of a tennis legend (and two-time US Open quarterfinalist) after building a successful singles and doubles career with her ‘take no-crap’ attitude.

DID YOU READ? Grigor Dimitrov – reawakening Lost Gen?

5. Nicolas Mahut [14] plays Kwon
It’s true, you can’t live off your reputation for playing the longest match of all time at Wimbledon. But make no mistake: Mahut is a solid player – and won the men’s doubles title here in 2015. Admittedly, this year hasn’t been kind to the Frenchman who has seen his ranking slip to 115 (from a high of 37).

6. Kaia Kanepi plays Stojanovic
Whatever happened to Kaia Kanepi? Only she knows that. Regardless, the Estonian was once a force on the WTA, winning four singles titles, reaching the quarterfinals of the US, French and Wimbledon, and getting to world No.15.

7. Lukas Rosol plays Krajinovic
Like Mahut and Stakhovsky, Rosol shot to fame at Wimbledon thanks to his 2012 defeat of Rafael Nadal. Again, like the others, he’s a man who is pretty handy with a tennis bat. Combative by nature, the former No.26 (two ATP titles) once irritated Andy Murray so much that the Brit uncharacteristically opined: ‘No one likes you on the Tour – everyone hates you’.

DID YOU READ? Rafael Nadal – back where he belongs

8. Kateryna Bondarenko plays Soler-Espinosa
Another mum in the field, Kateryna Bondarenko is a former US Open quarterfinalist (2009). The Ukranian took time out for the baby in 2012, making a comeback in 2014. She has struggled to reach the heights of pre-retirement times (where she hit No.29), but has plenty of top 10 scalps under her belt.

9. Sergiy Stakhovsky plays Vatutin
Sergiy Stakhovsky might be best remembered for beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon, but don’t be fooled: the Ukranian is a solid player (and pretty handy on social media, too). A former No.31, Stakhovsky might be languishing at 97 in the world, but is another one of those players who can beat anyone on his day.

10. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova plays Galfi[10]
Admittedly, we were getting a bit desperate by this point. But the truth is, Schmiedlova was a WTA stalwart for a while a few years ago. The Slovak scooped a couple of singles titles and reached world No.26 before her form nosedived (she’s currently ranked No.174).

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