Americans ready for 2018 French Open

May 21, 2018 02:24 PM

By Ashley Marshall

The U.S. is set to have at least 28 men and women in the main draw of the French Open later this month, with many more fighting for a spot in the qualifying tournament.

Team USA has 17 women and nine men who have earned a direct spot in the 128-player draw based on their rankings, plus two more who guaranteed their place by winning the Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge.

Ten American women will also compete in qualifying, which awards a total of 12 spots in the main draw, while 14 U.S. men will try to secure one of 16 berths in the men’s field.

The remaining spots, seven in each draw, will be filled by wild cards awarded by the French Tennis Federation, although these are unlikely to be awarded to American players.

In the men’s draw, the U.S. will be led by a trio of Top-20 players: world No. 10 John Isner (pictured above), No. 13 Sam Querrey and No. 15 Jack Sock.

They will be joined by world No. 47 Steve Johnson, No. 55 Tennys Sandgren, No. 56 Ryan Harrison, No. 57 Jared Donaldson, No. 61 Frances Tiafoe and No. 70 Taylor Fritz.

Rounding out the American men guaranteed of a spot in the main draw is world No. 204 Noah Rubin, who won the USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge that awards a place in the draw through a reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation.

Bjorn Fratangelo, ranked No. 107 in the world when the entry list was announced, would be the next American to gain direct acceptance into the main draw. With the original cut-off point at 101 and three players already out (Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe), Fratangelo would need five more players above him to withdraw from the tournament before it begins to secure a spot in the main draw.

Assuming that does not happen, Frantangelo will be one of 14 U.S. men competing in the qualifying tournament. He will be joined by Ernesto Escobedo, Chris Eubanks, Denis Kudla, Mackenzie McDonald, Michael Mmoh, Dennis Novikov, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul, Tim Smyczek, Evan King, Kevin King, Bladley Klahn and Stefan Kozlov.

In the women’s draw, the biggest question right now is whether Serena Williams will be ready to compete. The 23-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion has played just four matches since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia, and she has not played a competitive clay-court match since the 2016 French Open.

She is eligible to enter Roland Garros with a protected ranking, but there are no such protections for her seeding, meaning she would still be able to face a seeded player, including world No. 1 Simona Halep, in the first round.

Elsewhere in the main draw, there are four other Americans ranked inside the Top 20: No. 9 Venus Williams, No. 10 Sloane Stephens, No. 13 Madison Keys and No. 15 Coco Vandeweghe.

Danielle Collins (44), CiCi Bellis (56), Bernarda Pera (73), Sachia Vickery (76), Jennifer Brady (83), Christina McHale (85), Varvara Lepchenko (88), Sofia Kenin (92), Madison Brengle (99) and Alison Riske (105) also earned direct entry into the main draw.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, currently ranked No. 205, and Vania King, No. 1,276, are both using their protected rankings to enter, while Taylor Townsend received a bid through the USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge.

It leaves several American women needing to advance through qualifying to get into the main draw, including Shelby Rogers, who made the quarterfinal round in Paris in 2016, and Lauren Davis, who reached the third round of the Australian Open in January.

Nicole Gibbs, Kristie Ahn, Irina Falconi, Jamie Loeb, Kayla Day, Claire Liu and Francesca Di Lorenzo are also in the qualifying draw.