French Open wild card
Arthur Kapetanakis | April 30, 2018
With one week to spare, Taylor Townsend has clinched the 2018 USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge by virtue of a title and a semifinal run at consecutive $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit events.
The 22-year-old jumped out to a commanding lead when she won the title in Dothan, Ala., on April 22, and she immediately followed up that performance with a semifinal run in Charlottesville, Va., to seal the top spot.
Through the USTA wild card, the Atlanta resident will make her fifth consecutive main-draw appearance at the French Open. She reached the third round in Paris in 2014 – her career-best Grand Slam result – after winning that year's Wild Card Challenge as a teenager. Townsend also won the challenge in 2016.
Her recent success has earned her a career-high WTA ranking of No. 85, which will be good enough for direct entry into Wimbledon and the US Open if sustained. ADVERTISEMENT When the French Open direct-entry list was finalized mid-April, Townsend's ranking was outside the Top 100, causing her to miss the cut-off.
The powerful lefty has competed in all four Grand Slam tournaments in her young career, with her only wins coming in Paris, where she holds a 4-4 record. After a first-round appearance at the 2017 US Open and this year's Australian Open, she will be competing in her third consecutive major, and her 11th overall.
As evidenced by her three challenge victories, Townsend has had a very successful career on the USTA Pro Circuit, winning seven singles titles to date. Before turning professional, she made a name for herself as the world No. 1 junior in 2012, when she won the Australian Open junior title.
With only one tournament remaining in the Wild Card Challenge, Townsend's only would-be threat, second-placed Caroline Dolehide, did not enter the final leg in Charleston, S.C. Dolehide was the early leader after winning the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., but the 19-year-old did not enter any of the three subsequent challenge events.
Francesca Di Lorenzo is currently in third place and can only tie Townsend with a victory in Charleston. In the event of a tie, Townsend would still be granted the USTA wild card based on her superior WTA ranking.
With her main-draw spot now secured, Townsend can turn her full attention to bringing her strong clay-court form with her to Paris. Play at the French Open is set to begin on May 21.
In the men's challenge, Noah Rubin leads the pack with 86 points after taking the title at the $75,000 USTA Pro Circuit and ATP Challenger event in Tallahassee, Fla. With one week to play, Bjorn Frantangelo is in second place with 50 points, while Denis Kudla is in third with 39.