Rising Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Frances Tiafoe, Olympian Rajeev Ram Receive Main Draw Wild Cards
Christian Harrison, Mitchell Krueger, Reilly Opelka, Ryan Shane
Among US Open Qualifying Wild Card Recipients
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 16, 2016 – The USTA today announced that 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, American Olympic mixed doubles silver medalist Rajeev Ram, rising Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Frances Tiafoe, 2016 NCAA singles champion Mackenzie McDonald, 2016 USTA Boys’ 18s National Champion Michael Mmoh and USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge winner Ernesto Escobedo have been awarded men’s singles main draw wild card entries into the 2016 US Open. As part of a reciprocal agreement with the USTA, Tennis Australia will award one additional main draw wild card to a player who will be announced at a later date.
The 2016 US Open will be played August 29-September 11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Both the men’s and women’s singles champions this year will earn $3.5 million, with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money – for a total $4.5 million potential payout – based on their performances in the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
Del Potro, 27, is coming off an inspired, silver-medal run at the 2016 Rio Olympics that conjured flashes of the player who won the US Open at 20 and climbed to No. 4 in the world by 2010. The Argentine returned to competitive play in February after his third surgery on his left wrist. He defeated Stan Wawrinka en route to a third-round showing at Wimbledon before taking down No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in Rio before falling to Andy Murray in a four-set gold-medal match.
Escobedo, 20, is ranked No. 207 and earned his wild card by virtue of winning the USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge, during which he beat Frances Tiafoe to win the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Lexington, Ky., in July.
Fratangelo, 23, of Pittsburgh, is ranked No. 116 and has competed in the main draw of every Grand Slam this year, qualifying for both the Australian Open and Wimbledon and reaching the second round at Roland Garros. Fratangelo, who is named after Bjorn Borg, won the 2011 French Open boys’ title, at the time becoming the first American to do so since John McEnroe in 1977.
McDonald, 21, of Piedmont, Calif., won the 2016 NCAA men’s singles championship as a junior at UCLA and has since turned pro (currently ranked No. 416). McDonald, the 2016 ITA National Player of the Year, went 84-15 in singles over three years with the Bruins and was a three-time ITA All-American.
Mmoh, 18, of Bradenton, Fla., is the USTA Boys’ 18s National Champion and son of former Nigerian Olympian Tony Mmoh. Currently ranked No. 386, Mmoh is a former world No. 2-ranked junior who trains out of Nick Bollettieri’s IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Ram, 32, of Carmel, Ind., is currently ranked No. 103 and reached a career-high No. 56 in April. He represented Team USA in the Rio Olympics, taking home silver in mixed doubles with Venus Williams.
Tiafoe, 18, is ranked No. 123 and is the third-youngest player in the Top 200. He was the 2015 USTA Boys’ 18s National Champion and has reached four Challenger finals since April, winning the $100,000 Granby event in Canada earlier this month. Tiafoe and his upbringing at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., have been the subject of national media coverage.
In addition to the eight US Open men’s singles main draw wild cards, the USTA also announced the eight men who have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which will be held August 23-26 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. One additional US Open qualifying wild card will be awarded to the winner of the 2016 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, taking place August 19-22 in New Haven, Conn.
Players receiving US Open qualifying wild cards are: No. 180-ranked Sekou Bangoura (24, Bradenton, Fla.); former Top-200 player and 2012 US Open doubles quarterfinalist Christian Harrison (22, Shreveport, La.); 2016 USTA Boys’ 18s runner-up Vasil Kirkov (17, Tampa, Fla.); No. 191-ranked Mitchell Krueger (22, Fort Worth, Texas); two-time University of Virginia All-American and 2016 NCAA team championship most outstanding player Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (21, Charlotte); 2015 Wimbledon boys’ champion and 6-foot-11 Reilly Opelka (18, Palm Coast, Fla.); former University of Tennessee All-American Tennys Sandgren (25, Gallatin, Tenn.); and 2015 NCAA singles champion Ryan Shane (22, Falls Church, Va.).
What about Denis Shapovolov (winner of the boys Wimbledon championship – shouldn’t he be allowed in as a wild card?
Denis is not at a point where he will receive a wildcard from the USTA. Especially because he’s not American.