Saturday, August 25, 2007

Taking the Hard Road

Remember Frank Dancevic from this summer? How about from this appearance. Or this one. The rising Canadian star had a stellar summer, going 8-3 in three events and seeing his ranking jump from #113 in the world to #67.

When the US Open draw deadline came up a few weeks ago, however, Dancevic didn't have a high enough ranking to slip into the main draw, meaning he would have to qualify for the year's last Grand Slam. After beating Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco, not to mention making the quarters of a Masters Series and taking Rafael Nadal to a dramatic three sets, Dancevic became a hot name on the tour, but his ranking still bestowed one thing on him that the Nadals and Roddicks of the tour didn't have to go through: US Open qualifying.

(Dancevic and his signature one-handed backhand. Photo by Eduardo Cavasotti via Flickr.)

So over the past week, Dancevic has played as the number one seed in a tournament for the first time this year, though it was a tournament with sixteen winners instead of one, all earning their right into the US Open main draw.

Joining Dancevic will be a cast of hard road takers, men who are just coming up in their careers like American teen Scoville Jenkins (who was not granted a wild card) and Amersfoort champion Steve Darcis along with journeymen like Andrei Pavel (once ranked #13), Rainer Schuettler (2003 Australian Open finalist) and Alexander Waske (playing in his 3rd-ever Open at the age of 32). They all advanced through the grueling three rounds of the qualies, just for the chance to get a crack at the main draw - and - the biggest tennis tournament on tour.

Dancevic gets Marat Safin in the opening round; Jenkins, not as lucky, meets Roger Federer. But for these guys the journey is already well underway. And while Safin and Federer might be working out the kinks in the superior games on Monday and Tuesday at Flushing Meadows, the qualifiers will have three matches under their belt and the hope for a chance to play just one more.


Philip aka Oberon said...

I saw most of Frank's US Open qualifying match against Ivan Miranda from Peru. Frank won but Ivan is a pesky little player who refused to be intimidated.

Of all the players I saw at the qualifiers this summer I really liked Steve Darcis; we are on our way out to the Tennis Center today, hoping to get into Steve's first round match vs. Tommy Haas.

Erwin said...

Same thing happened to Canas earlier this year. He got hot -- beat Federer twice, etc. -- but after that still had to qualify at TMS Rome.

Nick McCarvel said...

For some reason, I'm a big fan of Dancevic. I love the one-handed backhand.

As for Darcis, he's sure to give Haas a challenge in the opening round.

I forgot about Canas and his qualifying Erwin - good memory!