Alex Kuznetsov will play in the French Open main draw for the first time in his his career.
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Alex Kuznetsov has earned a wild card to compete in the 2013 French Open men's main draw by winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, returning to Roland Garros nine years after he advanced to the boys' singles final.
The Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge will also award a women's wild card into the French Open to the American woman who, like Kuznetsov among the men, earns the greatest number of tour ranking points at two of three clay-court events held on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French Open and 2013 US Open are exchanged.
Kuznetsov secured his berth Wednesday when he advanced to the quarterfinals at the $50,000 Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla., while his nearest competitor in the Challenge, Wayne Odesnik, lost.
"It was hard not to think about the wild card this week," said Kuznetsov, following his 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 win Wednesday over Peter Polansky. "I've been focusing on my matches and just playing my tennis. I have never played the French Open main draw before, only in the qualifying. Any time you play in a Grand Slam, it is a really special event. It is always a great experience playing three-of-five sets in front of tons of people. It will be a lot of fun."
The winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who earned the greatest number of ATP ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court Challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and two $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and Tallahassee.
Kuznetsov, a 26-year-old from Richboro, Pa., and Tampa, Fla., won the title at the Sarasota Challenger to collect 100 points and picked up 15 points by reaching the quarterfinals in Savannah. He has also earned 15 points so far in Tallahassee and could add to that number if he advances further in the draw.
With his victory in Sarasota, Kuznetsov climbed back into the world's Top 200. He is currently ranked No. 176, his highest ranking since February 2012.
A native of Kiev, Ukraine, where his grandfather was a handball champion, Kuznetsov was a standout junior and the boys’ runner-up at the 2004 junior French Open, where he lost to Gael Monfils. Following a severe leg injury suffered in a 2005 car accident, Kuznetsov came back to play in his first US Open main draw in 2006.
In 2007, he won his first Grand Slam match at the Australian Open, reached the round of 16 in doubles at the US Open and posted career-best rankings of No. 158 in singles and No. 78 in doubles. Kuznetsov qualified for the 2012 Australian Open for his first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw since 2007 and faced Rafael Nadal in the first round. He has played in French Open qualifying on four occasions.
Kuznetsov joins Brian Baker as the second consecutive French Open junior boys’ finalist to earn a USTA wild card into the French Open. Baker, who reached the boys’ final at the French Open in 2003, advanced to the second round at last year’s French Open after earning the USTA wild card and subsequently broke into the Top 100.
*Advanced to quarterfinals in Tallahassee and will receive at least 15 points.
**Unable to surpass Kuznetsov.