Eight players will break new ground at the 2022 US Open by contesting the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. Get to know them here.
In 2021, Erika Andreeva capped an excellent junior career with a run to the Roland Garros girls' final, where she defeated Linda Fruhvirtova and Oksana Selekhmeteva before coming runner-up to Linda Noskova. In the same year, she transitioned smoothly to the pro ranks, compiling a 39-15 record and rocketing from No.1055 to No.368.
This year, Andreeva has barely set a foot wrong as she has moved through the levels. In May, she reached her biggest final to date as a qualifier the La Bisbal d'Empordà ITF W100, barely losing to Wang Xinyu 3-6, 7-6(0), 6-0. In July, she came through qualifying again to make her WTA main draw debut in Lausanne, where she routed Anna Blinkova to reach the second round.
Highlights: E.Andreeva d. Blinkova, Lausanne 2022
Andreeva, who is currently at a career high of No.131, successfully navigated her first attempt at Grand Slam qualifying in Flushing Meadows, finishing with her fourth Top 100 victory of the season over Kamilla Rakhimova - revenge for her loss in the Bronx W60 semifinals the previous week. She will bid to improve her 36-14 season record against No.21 seed Petra Kvitova in the first round - the first time Andreeva will have faced a Top 50 opponent.
Though the 18-year-old Andreeva is a fresh face at tour level, she's leading the way as the elder sibling in her family. Younger sister Mirra, 15, has also emerged as a potential force this year. Unranked at the start of April, Mirra has already surged into the Top 500 thanks to a 30-6 pro record including three ITF titles.
Seven of Elina Avanesyan's first eight tournaments of 2021 were ITF W15s in Cairo. She won two, and was runner-up at another pair - modest accomplishments in the wider ecosystem of pro tennis, but the springboard for a hard-working but under-the-radar rise.
Avanesyan climbed from No.720 to No.261 over the course of 2021 thanks to a 48-19 record, notably capturing the Versmold ITF W60 title in August as a lucky loser. It was enough to get her into her first tour-level qualifying draw at the Australian Open this January, where she reached the final round.
Highlights: Avanesyan d. Alves, Palermo 2022 | Rybakina d. Avanesyan, Rome 2022
A consistent counterpunching game has seen Avanesyan continue to make inroads this year. She reached the Bogota quarterfinals in April on her WTA main-draw debut, and scored her second Top 100 win over Madison Brengle to qualify for her first WTA 1000 tournament in Rome. The 19-year-old hit a career high of No.122 last month, and took out Laura Pigossi and Maja Chwalinska en route to qualifying this week. In the main draw, Avanesyan will start against Aleksandra Krunic.
Sara Bejlek (CZE)
It's perhaps surprising that Sara Bejlek has flown under the radar in comparison to some of her fellow precocious Czechs. The 16-year-old is the youngest player ranked in the Top 250, and will be the youngest player in the US Open main draw, having been the youngest direct entrant to qualifying.
New wave of Czech teenagers makes impact in Prague
Born in Hrusovany nad Jevisovkou in 2006, Bejlek has been delivering eye-catching results throughout her short career. Playing her fifth pro tournament, she won the Olomouc ITF W60 last July, a title run that culminated with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of former World No.59 Paula Ormaechea in the final. Just over a year later, Bejlek has racked up two more W60 trophies, adding the Ceska Lipa title in June before successfully defending her Olomouc title. Overall, she has compiled a 31-9 pro record in 2022 so far.
But the reigning Roland Garros girls' doubles champion (alongside Lucie Havlickova) has yet to have many high-level opportunities, despite hitting a career high of No.181 in July. Gaining direct entry to Wimbledon marked her tour-level qualifying debut, and the US Open was just her second such event. Bejlek made the most of it, though, taking out a pair of former Top 50 players in Kristina Mladenovic and Heather Watson to reach her first tour-level main draw. She will face Liudmila Samsonova in the first round.
Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
Unlike Bejlek, Linda Fruhvirtova's name has been bandied around tennis circles since her first forays into international competition at U12 level. Now 17, the Czech has backed up the talk with precocious results at every level, from the U12 Orange Bowl trophy in 2016 to the three ITF titles she has won since the start of 2021.
Meet Linda Fruhvirtova, the latest teenager making a splash on tour
Over the past two years, it has been Fruhvirtova's performances at tour level that have been most eyecatching. She reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 Charleston 250 event, the second WTA main draw of her career. Her fourth was Miami this March, where as a No.279-ranked wild card she upset Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka en route to the fourth round.
Highlights: L.Fruhvirtova d. Kovinic, Miami 2022 | L.Fruhvirtova d. Mertens, Miami 2022 | L.Fruhvirtova d. Konjuh, Charleston 2022
Though Fruhvirtova stumbled in Roland Garros and Wimbledon qualifying, she made no mistake in New York, defeating Ylena In-Albon, Carolina Alves and Chloe Paquet to make the main draw. And she's not the only reason to learn the name. Like Erika Andreeva, Linda has a 2007-born sister hot on her heels. Brenda, 15, has opened her pro career with a 38-6 record and six ITF W25 titles this year so far, and has risen to No.271 this week.
Fruhvirtova, whose all-court shotmaking is backed up with gritty fighting spirit, will open against Wang Xinyu in the first round.
Elizabeth Mandlik (USA)
In 1985, Hana Mandlikova pulled off back-to-back defeats of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova to win the third of her four Grand Slam crowns at the US Open. Thirty-two years later, the Czech legend's daughter Elizabeth Mandlik will step on to the major stage for the first time, opening against Tamara Zidansek after receiving a wild card.
Get to know Elizabeth Mandlik, daughter of Hana Mandlikova
This year, 21-year-old Mandlik has taken her biggest steps yet out of her illustrious mother's shadow. A former Top 20 junior, she had gained a Top 600 WTA ranking in 2019 before turning 18, but ended 2021 still placed at No.504. But three ITF W25 titles this year set the scene for a breakout tournament in San Jose a month ago. Mandlik scored the first two Top 50 wins of her career over Jil Teichmann and Alison Riske-Amritraj, then in her first meeting with a Top 5 opponent, pushed Paula Badosa all the way in a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(5) loss.
Highlights: Mandlik d. Riske-Amritraj, San Jose 2022 | Badosa d. Mandlik, San Jose 2022
Perhaps more impressively, Mandlik backed it up the following week by making her biggest final yet at the Landisville ITF W100. Her stellar summer has seen her rocket up to World No.144 - and Mandlik's sights are set much higher. Indeed, she knows there's only one way she can truly escape her mother's impact. In San Jose, she told WTA Insider that her goal was "to win Wimbledon, because my mom never won it".
Daria Snigur (UKR)
In 2019, Daria Snigur's unique flat-hitting game took her all the way to the Wimbledon girls' crown. But since then, the Ukrainian's progress has been stop-start, interrupted by various injuries and the Covid pandemic - and now, by the Russian invasion of her country. On her 20th birthday in March, Kyiv native Snigur wrote on social media:
"This is not how I imagined my anniversary. I planned to vigorously celebrate this day. And now I dream of returning to Kyiv, walking around Podil and just enjoying every day."
During Wimbledon qualifying, Snigur told The Times that her Kyiv base had been bombed, and she had relocated to Warsaw. This week, as she made her way through qualifying, Snigur also took part in the US Open's Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition alongside compatriots Dayana Yastremska and Katarina Zavatska.
Highlights: Riske-Amritraj d. Snigur, Nottingham 2022
Amidst the turbulence, Snigur has quietly been hitting significant milestones. Her biggest title to date came last December at the Dubai ITF W100; in June, she qualified in Nottingham to make her WTA main-draw debut. Currently ranked No.125, one place off her career high, Snigur took out two former Top 100 players in Yanina Wickmayer and Nao Hibino to navigate qualifying. Her reward is a first date with a Top 10 player: Snigur will take on No.7 seed Simona Halep in the first round.
Peyton Stearns (USA)
For Ohio native Peyton Stearns, winning the NCAA Division I singles championship as a sophomore at the University of Texas marked the end of her two-year college tennis career. The 20-year-old had already decided to turn pro this year, and her win over Connie Ma in the NCAA final - which also guaranteed her a US Open wild card - cemented it.
The omens were good: Stearns had already achieved a Top 400 ranking while still at Texas, playing a limited pro schedule but still winning her first ITF W25 at Sumter in June 2021. Last autumn, Stearns also won a round in Indian Wells qualifying, upsetting CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 7-5.
So it has proved. Since turning pro, 20-year-old Stearns has reached the ITF W25 final in Columbus, and scored her first Top 100 victory over Varvara Gracheva in Cincinnati qualifying. Now ranked No.329, she made her WTA main-draw debut as a wild card in Cleveland, impressing with some big hitting in her first-round loss to Irina-Camelia Begu. In New York, Stearns will pit her power against one of the game's best first-strike players, No.28 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Congratulations to Eleana Yu (standing beside Rosie), the @USTAGirlsNatls 18s singles champion. She receives a wildcard into the #UsOpen.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 15, 2022
Congratulations also to finalist Valerie Glozman (beside me). pic.twitter.com/U9tvTlSpPq
Eleana Yu (USA)
In 2018, Eleana Yu served early notice of her potential by winning the USTA Girls 14s title over Clervie Ngounoue. Four years later, she repeated the feat at U18 level, defeating Valerie Glozman 6-3, 7-5 in the final in San Diego to punch her wild card ticket for the US Open.
Yu made her pro debut in May 2019, gaining a WTA ranking that year at the age of 14. In 2022, the 17-year-old Ohio native has pushed on to her current No.751, with her pro season highlighted by a quarterfinal run in May's Daytona Beach ITF W25 event. Having never previously faced a Top 200 opponent, Yu will open against No.29 seed Alison Riske-Amritraj in the first round.
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