Qualifiers, teens making their mark at US Open
New York (AFP) –
A record week for success by US Open qualifiers and teen wonders saw Britain's Emma Raducanu and German Oscar Otte advance to the fourth round on Saturday.
Otte, who was throwing up during two qualifying matches, became the third qualifier into the last 16 on the New York hardcourts, joining countryman Peter Gojowczyk and Dutchman Botic Van de Zandschulp.
"I'm just really happy to be first time in my life in the second week of a Slam," Otte said.
And while Raducanu is the only women's qualifier into the fourth round, she joined fellow 18-year-olds Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who ousted French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, respectively.
"To have so many young players coming through is just really great for the game, because it just shows how strong this next generation is," Raducanu said.
"Having so many young players, I think we all inspire each other to play better. I wanted to join them in the second week as well, so that was an extra bit of motivation."
Raducanu won't get her chance at a big upset. She next faces American Shelby Rogers, who ousted top-ranked Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia on Saturday.
On the men's side, it's the first time three qualifiers have reached the last 16 since qualifying records were first kept in 1982.
Three qualifiers hadn't reached the men's fourth round at any Grand Slam since the 1995 French Open.
It didn't hurt their cause that the men's side lacked 20-time Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and defending champion Dominic Thiem.
No US Open qualifier has gone past the quarter-finals and only five in other Slams have made the semi-finals, the most recent being Russian Aslan Karatsev at this year's Australian Open.
Otte takes pride in his journey from throwing up in qualifying to showing up in the last 16.
"Quallies are always tough, especially the first two rounds. I wasn't in very good physical shape. I puked on the court in both deciding tie-breaks," Otte said.
"I was just thinking, 'OK, doesn't matter what's the score, how the match is going to end.' I just wanted to be off court out of the sun because it was so humid and hot.
"Yeah, it's a crazy ride. Just unbelievable. I didn't expect that I could come so far."
Suddenly Otte, who next plays Italian sixth seed and Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini, has faith in going even farther.
"I have more trust in my game, and it's working really well. Let's see when this ends," he said.
"I know if I play well and my game works really good, I can make a lot of damage to no matter who is my opponent. It was a long way, but I think it's still not the end."
- 'The life's good now' -
Van de Zandschulp, who next plays Argentine 11th seed Diego Schwartzman, is on a roll as well.
"It's pretty amazing. The life's good now," he said. "I think I have, every match, a chance to win."
Raducanu, ranked 150th, reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in July in her Grand Slam debut and hasn't yet dropped a set.
"With each week I'm getting more and more accustomed to the physical demands of playing at this level," Raducanu said. "I think I'm improving. I'll be fresh for Monday.
"With many matches, you just feel so confident going onto the court in your game. With each game I think I've got my ball strike. I'm excited to see what Monday brings."
© 2021 AFP