How Do Wild Cards Work In Tennis?

What is a wild card in tennis?

Let’s say that a player’s ranking doesn’t allow the player to qualify for the tournament. Or the player missed the tournament entry deadline. In these cases, the tournament organizers can give the player a wild card that will allow him to play in the tournament.

Who gets a wild card for the tournament is completely up to the tournament organizers. Wild cards can be given out by tournaments for the main draw and the qualifying draw.

Who gets wild cards?

Wild cards are typically given to local players, up-and-coming players, players from the home country of the tournament, players returning from injuries, or players who missed the tournament entry deadline.

Before a grand slam, big-name players take wild cards to play at a tournament to get match practice. This is especially the case if they have lost in the early rounds of the previous tournament.

Siblings of top players also plenty of wild cards. Brothers of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic have been recipients of many wild cards over the years mainly due to the influence of their more successful siblings.

Some grand slam winners got into the tournament with a wild card

It’s very rare for a wild card player to win the tournament, though it has happened a few times. In 2001, Goran Ivanisevic won the Wimbledon title after getting a wild card. Kim Clijsters was the unexpected US Open winner in 2009 after getting into the draw with a wild card.

Wild card swaps

This is the ugly underbelly of tennis. Nations that host the grand slams (Australia, France, and, the US) have wild card swaps in place where they give each other’s players wild cards. For example, the US Open may give an Australian player a wild card, and the Australian Open will give a US player a wild for the Australian Open. It’s up to the tennis federation in each country to decide who gets the wild card.

Interestingly, Britain, which hosts the Wimbledon Championship does not have a formal wild card swap agreement with the other grand slam nations.

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US Open Tennis History Overview

The US Open is one of the four grand slam tournaments on the calendar. It is the last grand slam of the year and typically starts in the last week of August. The US Open is currently played on hard courts.

The US Open is held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The main court at the US Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium, added a roof in 2016.

US Open Tennis History

1881 – First men’s Championships (called National Singles Championships for Men) held on grass at Newport Casino, Rhode Island. Only members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) are allowed to enter the  tournament. Richard Sears won the first tournament.

1887 – First women’s Championships was held (called U.S. Women’s National Singles Championship) on grass at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Ellen Forde Hansell Alderice was the first women’s champion. Richard Sears wins his 7th men’s championships.

1892 – U.S. Mixed doubles Championships introduced. M. Wright and J. S. Clark were the first champions.

1893 –  U.S Men’s Doubles Championships held at the Staten Island Cricket Club in Livingston, Staten Island, New York.

1899 – U.S. Women’s National Doubles Championships introduced. Margarette Ballard and Bertha Townsend were the first women’s doubles champions.

1903 – Great Britain’s Lawrence Doherty is the first international champion at the Men’s Singles National Championship.

1911 – Wiliam Larned win’s 7th title at the men’s championships

1915 – National championship was relocated to West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City. The effort to move the tournament was headed by New Yorker Karl Behr.

1929 – Bill Tilden wins his 7th title at the men’s championships

1931 – Hellen Wills Moddy of United States wins her 7th National Singles Championships. She won 8 Wimbledon and 4 French Open titles in her career.

1968- OPEN ERA – Professional tennis players were allowed to compete for the first time. All 5 tournaments were held at the same venue for the first time West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York.

1975 – Surface switched to clay (from grass)

1978 – Tournament moves to hardcourt (from clay). All 5 events moved to the current location in Flushing, New York.

1979- Tracy Austin becomes the youngest singles champion at 16 years old. She beat Chris Evert 6-4 6-3 for the title.

1982 – Chris Evert wins her 6th US Open title

1983 – Jimmy Connors wins his 5th US Open title (his 8th grand slam title)

1990 – Pete Sampras becomes the youngest US Open men’s champion at 19 years and 28 days. He beat Andre Agassi  6-4 6-3 6-2 in the final.

1994 – Andre Agassi becomes the first unseeded player to win the US Open

2002 – Pete Sampras wins his 5th US Open title.

2008 – Roger Federer wins his 5th consecutive US Open title. He is the first to achieve this feat after Bill Tilden in 1924.

2014 – Marin Cilic wins the US Open men’s title (first Croatian to win a grand slam since Goran Ivanišević  won the Wimbledon in 2001)

2016 – After years of rain delays, Arthur Ashe stadium gets a roof.

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