Chirico breaks into Top 100 after semifinal run in Madrid

May 9, 2016 08:51 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

American teenager Louisa Chirico made her debut in the Top 100 in the latest rankings after a breakout run to the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Chirico, ranked No. 130 in the world just two weeks ago, was not ranked high enough to make it into even the qualifying draw when she landed in the Spanish capital. But after a couple last-minute withdrawals, the New York native got a spot in the draw and rode that momentum to her best-ever finish.

Chirico, who turns 20 on May 16, climbed 54 spots to 76th overall with her run to the semifinals of her first WTA Premier tournament. She becomes the youngest of 13 Americans in the Top 100, where she joins Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Christina McHale, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle, Varvara Lepchenko, Nicole Gibbs, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Alison Riske.

Playing on the red clay – her favorite surface – of Madrid last week, Chirico defeated fellow American Falconi and Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino in qualies to book her place in the main draw.

She then swept past No. 31 Monica Niculescu in the first round before rallying to dispatch former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in three sets in Round 2. Fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka withdrew prior to her third-round match with Chirico, who then continued her storybook run with a straight-sets quarterfinal upset of No. 32 Daria Gavrilova, 7-6, 6-2.

A seventh consecutive win over a Top 100 player proved to be too much, however, and Chirco fell in her semifinal with Dominika Cibulkova, 6-1, 6-1.

According to the WTA, Chirico is the first U.S. teen to make the semifinals of a Premier clay-court event since Ashley Harkleroad in Charleston, S.C., in 2003.

"It's been pretty cool from the beginning, really," Chirico told after her quarterfinal win over Gavrilova. "I wasn't in qualies when I landed in Madrid. We landed at 10 minutes to 4pm, which is when the cut closes. We were like, 'Can you call the supervisor? Am I in?' Lucky enough to make it in and then qualify and get to where I am now. So it's been a really exciting ride."

Chirico made her Grand Slam main draw debut at the French Open last May after winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. She also played in the main draw of the US Open, where she fell to breakout qualifier Johanna Konta in the first round.

While Chirico’s run will not earn her direct entry into Roland Garros next week – the entry list is based on rankings from mid-April – she will now likely be guaranteed a main-draw place at Wimbledon and the US Open.