James Blake, Lleyton Hewitt and Steve Johnson were awareded 2012 US Open Wild Cards so hopefully we can see them shake things up since Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from the Open like the Olympics due to a knee injury. Andy Murray’s 2012 London Olympic Games performance of beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be one to keep your eyes on this year.
The USTA announced that 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, along with two-time US Open quarterfinalist James Blake and reigning NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson have been awarded men’s singles main draw wild card entries into the 2012 US Open Tennis Championships. Other Americans receiving a wild card include 2010 US Open boys’ singles champion Jack Sock, 2010 US Open boys’ singles finalist Denis Kudla, 2012 USTA Boys’ 18s singles champion Dennis Novikov, and current world No. 100 Rajeev Ram. France’s Guillaume Rufin will also receive a wild card.
The 2012 US Open will be played August 27 – September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn a record $1.9 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total $2.9 million potential payout) based on their performances in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship is presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.
Hewitt, 31, of Adelaide, Australia, received his wild card through a reciprocal arrangement with Tennis Australia, which grants a men’s singles main draw wild card into the 2013 Australian Open to a player designated by the USTA. He is a former world No. 1 and the winner of 28 career singles titles, including the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon.
Blake, 32, of Tampa, Fla., reached the quarterfinals of the 2005 US Open as a wild card, upsetting Rafael Nadal before losing to Andre Agassi in a five-set thriller. Blake peaked at No. 4 in the world in 2006 and again reached the quarterfinals of the 2006 US Open and the final of the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. He has captured 10 ATP World Tour singles titles and holds a 21-12 career record (18-11 in singles) for the U.S. in Davis Cup, and was a member of the 2007 championship team.
Johnson, 22, of Orange, Calif., earned a wild card based on USTA Pro Circuit results; this year, the USTA awarded one US Open men’s singles wild card to the American who earned the most ATP ranking points at two of four USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events. In his final season at USC this year, Johnson went undefeated in singles to claim his second straight NCAA singles title and also led USC to its fourth team title in his four years at the school. Last year, Johnson pushed Top 50 player Alex Bogomolov to five sets in the first round of the US Open as a wild card. Johnson is currently ranked a career-high No. 237 in the world.
Sock, 19, of Lincoln, Neb., won the 2010 US Open boys’ singles title, becoming the first American to win the title since Andy Roddick in 2000. Sock earned US Open main draw wild cards in 2010 and 2011 by winning the USTA Boys’ 18 National Championships. Last year, he became the first reigning USTA Boys’ 18s winner in 15 years to win a round at the US Open; he fell to Roddick in the second round. Also last year, Sock captured the US Open mixed doubles title with Melanie Oudin
Kudla, 20, of Arlington, Va., started 2012 by qualifying for the Australian Open—his Grand Slam main draw debut—and reached the second rounds of the ATP events in San Jose and Indian Wells. He reached the 2010 US Open boys’ singles final (losing to Sock) and rose to No. 3 in the world junior rankings. The Ukrainian-born Kudla is a two-time practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team and peaked at No. 160 in the world this month.
Novikov, 18, of San Jose, Calif., earned his US Open wild card by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships, and he also won the USTA Boys’ 18s doubles title (with Michael Redlicki) to secure a wild card into the US Open doubles main draw. The Russian-born Novikov reached the boys’ singles quarterfinals at the 2010 US Open and has been playing primarily on the USTA Pro Circuit, reaching the quarterfinals of the Futures in Rochester, N.Y., in July. He will play for UCLA this fall.
Ram, 28, of Carmel, Ind., is ranked No. 100 and reached two ATP semifinals this summer at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Los Angeles and the grass-court event in Newport, R.I. Ram owns six ATP doubles crown and is one of the most accomplished players in USTA Pro Circuit history, with seven singles finals appearances (two titles) and 22 doubles titles, which is second all-time. Ram also helped the University of Illinois to an undefeated season and NCAA team title in 2003.
Rufin, 22, of Charnay, France, received his wild card through a reciprocal arrangement with the French Tennis Federation, which granted a wild card into the 2012 French Open to a player designated by the USTA (Brian Baker earned the 2012 USTA French Open wild card through the USTA Pro Circuit tournament-based system this year). Rufin is currently ranked a career-high No. 127. He qualified for and reached the second round of Wimbledon this year.
In addition to the eight US Open men’s singles main draw wild cards, the USTA also announced eight men who have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which will be held August 21-24 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. One additional US Open qualifying wild card will be awarded to the winner of the 2012 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, taking place August 17-20 in New Haven, Conn.
Players receiving 2012 US Open qualifying wild cards are: 2009 US Open boys’ singles finalist Chase Buchanan (21, Columbus, Ohio), the 2012 NCAA doubles champion, who completed his senior year at Ohio State; 2012 USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships runner-up Alexios Halebian (18, Hollywood, Calif.); Christian Harrison (18, of Shreveport, La.), who reached the quarterfinals or better of five USTA Pro Circuit events this year, including the $50,000 Challenger in Lexington, Ky., and is the younger brother of U.S. Davis Cupper and Olympian Ryan Harrison; Bradley Klahn (21, Poway, Calif.), the 2010 NCAA men’s singles champion who just completed his senior year at Stanford; Daniel Kosakowski (20, Huntington Park, Calif.), who turned professional last year after his freshman year at UCLA; Mitchell Krueger (18, Fort Worth, Texas), who advanced to the boys’ singles semifinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year; and two former University of Tennessee All-Americans who both turned pro last summer – Tennys Sandgren (21, Gallatin, Tenn.), who has won three USTA Pro Circuit titles this year; and 2011 NCAA men’s singles runner-up Rhyne Williams (21, Knoxville, Tenn.), who went 12-3 in singles in a string of ITF Circuit events in Europe this spring.
The 2012 US Open will be held Monday, August 27, through Sunday, September 9. Tickets for the 2012 US Open can be purchased four ways: 1) at USOpen.org; 2) by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; 3) at all Ticketmaster outlets; or 4) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office. American Express is the Official Card of the US Open.