Fratangelo earns spot
in french open main draw
Sally Milano | April 26, 2016
Five years after winning the boys' title at the French Open, Bjorn Fratangelo has earned a shot at the men's crown.
Fratangelo, a 22-year-old native of Pittsburgh, claimed a main-draw wild card into the 2016 French Open by winning the 2016 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge. He will make his French Open main-draw debut in Paris in May.
Fratangelo clinched the wild card Tuesday after Jared Donaldson, the only player who could surpass him in the challenge standings, lost his first-round match at the $50,000 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger.
Fratangelo will finish the wild card challenge with at least 115 points, the most of any American player. He claimed 80 points by winning the $50,000 St. Joseph’s/Candler Savannah Challenger in Savannah, Ga., last week and 35 points by reaching the semifinals of the $100,000 Joey Gratton Sarasota Open in Sarasota, Fla., two weeks ago.ADVERTISEMENT
Through the 2016 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, USTA Player Development will award a French Open main-draw wild card to one American man and one American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA Tour ranking points in a series of USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events taking place this spring.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2016 French Open and US Open are exchanged.
The women’s wild card challenge kicked off last week with the $50,000 Hardee’s Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala. Taylor Townsend reached the final in Dothan, earning 48 points and taking the early lead. Jessica Pegula, who reached the quarterfinals, is in second place.
Earlier this year, Fratangelo qualified for the Australian Open, marking his first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw outside the US Open. He made his Grand Slam main-draw debut at the 2015 US Open after winning the USTA Pro Circuit’s US Open Wild Card Challenge last summer behind a finals showing at the $50,000 Challenger in Binghamton, N.Y., and semifinal showings at the $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., and the $50,000 Challenger in Lexington, Ky.
In addition, he reached a final and a semifinal at ITF Circuit events in Italy in spring 2015. Those results helped propel him to a career-high No. 106 in the world in August.
Overall, Fratangelo has won 10 USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Circuit singles titles over the last three years. This year, he qualified for the ATP events in Indian Wells and Miami. In Indian Wells, he won his first-round match and pushed world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to three sets in the second round.
As a junior player, Fratangelo – named after six-time French Open champion and 11-time Grand Slam winner Bjorn Borg – ranked as high as No. 2 in the ITF World Junior Rankings and competed on the Junior Davis Cup team. In 2011, he became the first American since John McEnroe in 1977 to win the French Open boys’ singles title. He is coached by USTA National Coach Stanford Boster.
The USTA first used the wild card challenge format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at that year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. In 2013, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards, with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open. In 2014, young American Taylor Townsend and veteran Robby Ginepri received the wild cards, with Townsend advancing to the third round. Last year, young Americans Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico secured the wild cards.