Robby Ginepri will make his first appearance in the French Open main draw since 2010.
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American veteran Robby Ginepri earned a wild card into the 2014 French Open by winning the men's Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge and will be making his first appearance in the main draw of Roland Garros in four years.
Ginepri, 31, from Kennesaw, Ga., finished with 80 total points in the challenge after winning the $50,000 Tallahassee, Fla., Challenger. He last played in the main draw of the French Open in 2010, when he reached the fourth round – the best showing of an American male that year. He also is the only active American male to reach the semifinals of a major – the 2005 US Open, where he lost to Andre Agassi in five sets.
During his career, Ginepri has reached the fourth round or better at all four Grand Slams, peaking at No. 15 in the world in 2006, and represented the U.S. in Davis Cup in 2004 and the Olympics 2008. He suffered a setback in late 2010, when he broke his elbow after falling off his bicycle; the injury kept him sidelined through the middle of 2011.
Following his win in Tallahassee, Ginepri's ranking jumped 162 spots, from No. 442 in the world to his current rank of No. 280. He recently participated in a conference call with media after earning the French Open wild card. Here are highlights from the call:
Q. Can you give us a run-through of what you've been dealing with through the last couple years and what it means to win the wild card?
Robby Ginepri: Yeah, a couple years ago, after I had a good fourth-round appearance at the French Open, later that year I broke my left elbow mountain biking, had a couple elbow surgeries and was out for a year, year and a half. I was struggling to find my rhythm, find my game, stay healthy. Obviously, all professional athletes go through injuries. How you deal with them, manage them, that's all I've been trying to do. I’m still enjoying the game out there.
It's a big opportunity for me to get this wild card. I definitely feel like I can do some damage over there. I've shown I can do it before and am eager to get out there on the red clay. I've always enjoyed going to Paris. It's a special place to me. I feel like the fans are extremely knowledgeable when they're watching all the matches. Regardless of the court you're on, Court 17 or one of the show courts, they're pretty packed. I'm stoked for that.
Q. What is your schedule now? How does this change, knowing you have a European trip on the schedule?
Robby Ginepri: I'll head over next week and play Nice, a warm-up qualifying tour event, then go over to Roland Garros after that. I have a week to train as hard as I can to get ready for the three-out-of-five (sets).
Q. When you take a look now at guys like Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, James Blake, they're now all off the circuit. Is it a little weird for you to think about going to a major without those guys there? Do you talk to them frequently?
Robby Ginepri: Yeah, it is a little strange the last couple years with them retiring from the game. I still see them and speak to them here and there, but I’ve also made some new friends along the way. Some of the other Americans will be there to compete and do our thing over there. Those were the three or four guys that I grew up and played all the Grand Slams with and had the success with, shared great times with. So it's a little different. I feel like they could have had a couple more good years left, and I'll try to play well for them along the way.
Q. Robby, some details about the elbow injury. What exactly was it that happened? Did you have to keep it in a cast for a certain amount of time? What did you need to do to get that right?
Robby Ginepri: Yeah, I probably went into surgery the next day on it. Then casted it the next three days. I was in rehab right away getting the range back and not letting the scar tissue build up on it. I had a lot of atrophy happen with it, so I lost a lot of muscle mass and flexion. I was literally going to rehab five days a week, three hours every day, not seeing any progress some weeks, then seeing big gains the next.
There were a lot of ups and downs during that time. I still can't fully extend my left arm right now. I've had some left wrist issues along the way from a little bit too much pressure on that joint and the ligaments. Like I said before, I'm trying to manage this the best I can, get as much treatment at tournaments and away from tournaments and go from there.
Q. Could you talk about the process of the wild card, determining the winner on the USTA Pro Circuit through the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Challenge. Do you like the process?
Robby Ginepri: I’m a huge advocate for the wild card playoffs. It brings a lot to the table. There's no question of who deserved it or who got it – we earned it. We're the ones that reap all the benefits from it now, get a main-draw wild card for Paris. I like how they did it in Atlanta for the Australian wild-card shootout as well. Hopefully we continue it down the road. It's good for American tennis.
Q. You've had really good results at the French in the past with a couple fourth-round appearances. Have you set any goals for yourself there this year?
Robby Ginepri: Haven't really sat down and planned out and say I want to reach the fourth round again or whatnot. This wasn't even on the radar a couple months ago. It's a huge bonus for me. The first four or five years I played Paris, I lost first round. To break through in '07 and '08 to get to the fourth round, and then in 2010 I proved I could do it again and beat tough guys over there in five sets.
Q. If you do well in France, if you feel OK, what could be your schedule for the rest of the season?
Robby Ginepri: I'd probably stay over there and play a lot of the grass-court tournaments. Obviously my ranking has plummeted a lot in the last couple years. It would be a question of what events I could even get into. I'd be playing qualies, I'm sure, at most of them. I've always liked playing Queen's Club, Eastbourne. I don't think I'd be getting into Wimbledon, so I'd have to play qualies of that. Then I'd come back and prepare like I always do for a great hard-court season. There's the tournament in Atlanta (BB&T Atlanta Open), my hometown event. I get amped up for that and will go there.
Q. Do you think anything about the US Open?
Robby Ginepri: Oh, yeah. The whole US Open Series, any tournaments I could get into and play and qualify, I would obviously love to be a part of that. I have a lot of special memories from playing the Open. It's always been my dream to play that tournament. If I can still continue to be there and play there, I would obviously come back and show up and execute my skill set there every match. Try to get some W's.