Gauff granted wild-card entry to U.S. Open

Cori "Coco" Gauff returns to Slovakia's Magdalena Rybaikova in a women's singles match July at Wimbledon.

(AP) — Coco Gauff will get a chance to try for an encore: The 15-year-old from Florida received a wild-card entry Tuesday for the U.S. Open’s main draw.

It will be Gauff’s second Grand Slam tournament. She made a magical run to the fourth round at Wimbledon last month after getting a wild card into the qualifying rounds there.

Ranked just 313th at the time, Gauff became the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon, upset five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round and wound up losing at the All England Club to eventual title winner Simona Halep.

Gauff is currently No. 140 in the WTA rankings. She initially made a mark at age 13 by becoming the youngest U.S. Open junior finalist in history; she won the French Open junior title at 14.

Age restrictions set up by the women’s professional tour limit the number of tournaments someone who is 15 can enter and the number of wild-card invitations she can be offered — and Gauff already has accepted three wild cards elsewhere. But according to the WTA, the U.S. Tennis Association — which runs a Grand Slam tournament, and so is not overseen by the WTA or ATP tours — essentially can choose to ignore the eligibility rule and offer Gauff a wild card.

“I want to thank the USTA for the opportunity to participate in my home slam,” Gauff said in a statement emailed by her agent. “I look forward to playing my first main draw at the U.S. Open.”

Among the other players receiving wild cards from the USTA on Tuesday for the women’s field at Flushing Meadows in New York City were 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur — an Australian who was granted that country’s reciprocal berth — and 17-year-old Caty McNally, an American who won the doubles title with Gauff and reached the singles semifinals at the Citi Open in Washington this month.

Gauff and McNally have said they plan to play doubles together at Flushing Meadows; that event’s wild-card entries will be announced later. The pair won the U.S. Open junior doubles trophy together a year ago.

The draw for the U.S. Open is Aug. 22, and play in the year’s last major tennis tournament begins Aug. 26.

Other women’s wild cards went to Francesca Di Lorenzo, Whitney Osuigwe, Kristie Ahn and Katie Volynets of the U.S., along with 16-year-old Diane Parry of France, who got her country’s reciprocal invitation.

Di Lorenzo, a 22-year-old from Ohio, is a past NCAA doubles champion now ranked 128th. Osuigwe, a 17-year-old from Florida, won a French Open junior title and is ranked 105th. Ahn, a 27-year-old from New Jersey, finished first in the USTA’s wild-card challenge, while Volynets, a 17-year-old from California, won the 18s national championship.

Nine wild cards for women’s qualifying were also awarded, including to five-time Grand Slam doubles champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 14-year-old Reese Brantmeier of Wisconsin, Vicky Duval, Shelby Rogers and Pan Am Games medalist Caroline Dolehide.

Juan Martin del Porto, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, pulled out of the tournament Tuesday because he is still recovering from surgery on his right kneecap. That allowed Denis Kudla, a 26-year-old from Virginia who was the highest-ranked man to miss out on making the field via direct acceptance, to get into the main draw just hours after he was announced as a wild-card recipient.

So the USTA announced that Kudla’s wild card would now go to Chris Eubanks, a 23-year-old from Georgia. Others getting into the main draw include Americans Jack Sock, Bjorn Fratangelo, Marcos Giron, USTA wild-card challenge winner Ernesto Escobedo and 18s national champion Zachary Svajda, along with Antoine Hoang, who got France’s reciprocal entry. The Australian federation has not announced who will get its men’s wild-card invitation.

Men awarded wild cards for qualifying include Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, as well as last year’s 18s national champion, Jenson Brooksby.

* * *

Venus upsets defending champ Bertens in Ohio

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Venus Williams reached the third round of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) upset of defending champion Kiki Bertens on Tuesday.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion is the oldest woman in the draw at 39. She has made her deepest Cincinnati run since reaching the 2012 semifinals.

Bertens, seeded fifth, rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 5-2 in the third set to force a tiebreaker. The 2-hour, 17-minute match ended when she sailed a forehand wide.

In another upset in this U.S. Open tuneup, 13th-seeded Angelique Kerber was knocked out by unseeded Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (7), 6-2, and 15th-seeded Qiang Wang lost to Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-4.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who won Cincinnati in 2013, reached the second round after 12th-seeded Belinda Bencic retired because of an injured left foot while trailing 6-4, 1-0.

On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka advanced to the second round with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Grigor Dimitrov, and fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem withdrew because of illness.

In a match that lasted 2 hours, 34 minutes, Dimitrov fought off two match points in the eighth game of the third set and forced a tiebreaker. Wawrinka won the match with an ace.

Wawrinka next faces qualifier Andrey Rublev, who advanced with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 victory over 15th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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