128 men and 128 women slug it out for 16 coveted main draw spots. The Men’s and Women’s 2022 US Open Qualifying Tournaments begin Tuesday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
2022 US Open Qualifying Tournaments Begin Tuesday
While the world’s superstars arrive in New York and began preparation for the US Open that begins next week, the near greats will play their hearts out just a few steps away. The Men’s and Women’s US Open Qualifying Tournaments are actually 16 separate tournaments with eight entries in each draw. The winner of each small tournament claims one of the final 16 spots in the US Open.
In the best 2-of-3 set matches, players mostly ranked from about 105-200 in the world vie for a main draw spot in the US Open. A player must win three consecutive matches in four days to win a spot in the big event. Often played in front of small crowds, these matches are pressure packed and compelling.
During the Qualifying Tournament, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the Grandstand are generally off-limits to the competition. While megastars practice on the show courts and celebrities play exhibitions in front of thousands of fans, the grueling trial of qualifying takes place on the outer courts.
While the names Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Simona Halep, and Serena Williams come to mind of tennis fans quickly, Constant Lestienne and Ana Bogdan may not. Barring last-minute withdrawals or wild card adjustments, Lestienne and Bogdan will be the top seeds in the Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Tournaments.
Earlier this year, world #94 Lestienne unsuccessfully tried to qualify into the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. While he holds a ranking inside the top 100 now, he did not at the time acceptances were decided a few weeks ago. Oh, so close.
Bogdan is a veteran of several Grand Slam draws; after a stellar summer she is ranked well inside the top 100 women in the world. Alas, her success also came too late for direct acceptance to the US Open, so she will try to emerge from the qualies this week.
Journeyman pros, college stars, top ranked juniors, veterans returning from injury and more all take their shot in qualifying. Approximately, the top 105 or so players in the world gain direct acceptance into the main draw. World class players, just outside this cut-line, need to earn their spot through play on the court.
Often times, qualifiers do not make it past the first or second round in the actual US Open, but there is always a chance. Amazingly, in 2021, Emma Raducanu escaped from the qualifying tournament to eventually win the actual US Open, marking the first time a male or female qualifier won the US Open. She entered play in New York ranked #150 in the world.
Big Money At Stake
In addition to the chance to compete in the US Open, the players in the qualies play for money, serious money. Overall, the events will distribute nearly $3 million in prize money in 2022.
The 16 survivors of the qualifying event will be guaranteed at least $80,000 from their participation in the US Open. Even a final round loser in the qualifying claims $44,000.
For perspective, during this week’s ATP 250 event in Winston-Salem, the tournament champ will claim over $100,000, the runner up will nab just over $57,000 in the event. A player will need to win at least four, possibly five matches to reach the final in North Carolina.
During this week’s WTA event in Granby, Canada, the champion will earn only about $33,000, nowhere near matching the women who advance through the qualifying tournament in Queens.
Besides the money, a spot in the US Open can help earn a player eyeballs, endorsements and ATP or WTA Tour points. All are highly valued and hard earned during qualifying week.
Constant Lesienne headlines a strong field in the men’s tournaments. Other well-known names of seeds include once-rising American star Jack Sock (#12), former world and one-time world #7 and now rugged veteran, 38-year-old Fernando Verdasco (#22).
In a twist, American Stefan Kozlov narrowly escaped having to qualify when he gained acceptance into the main draw on Monday. US Open finalist Alexander Zverev withdrew from the event just hours before the USTA announced qualifying draws.
Koslov knows the perils of trying to qualify as he failed to advance through the three rounds on six separate occasions.
The red hot Ana Bogdan leads the women’s qualifying field which also includes Grand Slam veteran Zhu Lin (#2) and former world #5 and now 35-year-old Sara Errani (#18).
Along with the seeds, the USTA awarded nine wild card entries into the men’s and women’s Qualifying Tournaments.
On the men’s side, all wild card entries are 25 years old or younger. Five teenagers received wild cards, including 2022 USTA junior national runner-up Ethan Quinn, who is 18 and former USTA junior champion and one-time US Open match winner Zach Svajda who is 19.
Female competitors who received wild cards range from 15 to 30 years in age. 15-year-old national juniors runner up Valerie Glozman and 30-year-old former Olympian Cristina McHale bookend the women’s wild cards.
Time to Play
The former stars, the teens, the up-and-comers and the almost top players all converge in the qualies. Qualifying draws and schedules will be available late Monday. The hopes of the grand stage are a few matches, a few steps and an ocean of tennis away. All 128 men and women have a chance to survive and gain one of the 16 main draw spots up for grabs for the men and women respectively. Three match wins and you are in…if it were only that easy.
Main Photo from Getty.