Fratangelo Ready To Make The Most Of Roland Garros Wild Card
Bjorn Fratangelo came alive last month on the ATP Challenger Tour during the green clay events held in the U.S. and the American has been rewarded for his efforts with a wild card into Roland Garros.
The main draw opportunity for Fratangelo, who won the boys’ singles title at Roland Garros in 2011, is part of a wild card playoff held for the past five years by the United States Tennis Assocation. The American player who earns the most Emirates ATP Ranking points during the $100,000 events in Sarasota, Florida, and the two $50,000 events in Savannah, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida, is declared the winner. Only the two best results a player has during the three-week swing are counted in the standings.
By winning in Savannah and reaching the semi-finals in Sarasota, Fratangelo was the clear winner by picking up 112 Emirates ATP Ranking points. Frances Tiafoe finished in second place (63 points) and Jared Donaldson came in third (48 points).
“I like the challenge because it’s a sure way of who to give the wild card to. There are no questions asked,” said Fratangelo. “It makes the competition even more cut-throat as well. Obviously, I’m happy to take it.”
The green clay that the American ATP Challenger Tour events are held on is different from the red clay of Roland Garros in that the ball bounces slightly lower. Despite this, Fratangelo still believes the surface is an adequate way to prepare for the second Grand Slam of the year.
“It’s not exactly the same, but it’s what we have in the U.S. You can still slide and work the point in a lot of the same ways,” said Fratangelo. “There are a few minor changes to make when we go to Europe, but it’s a good way to prep for the most part.”
It seems that Fratangelo was right with his assessment. The 22-year-old finished as runner-up in last week’s $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Bordeaux, France, and now sits at a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 104.
He also joins a growing list of Roland Garros wild card playoff champions who have used the opportunity as a springboard for their careers. Brian Baker (2012), Alex Kuznetsov (2013) and Frances Tiafoe (2015) all achieved career-high Emirates ATP Rankings within 12 months of winning the playoff. Now that Fratangelo is on the cusp of reaching the Top 100, he’s looking to advance into that upper echelon by winning his first main draw match at a Grand Slam.
“I’m not at the level where I could win the tournament, but I’d love to win a round or two,” said Fratangelo. “Roland Garros is a place where I have so many good memories and that kickstarted my junior success and transition into the pros. I’m really comfortable there and can’t wait to get started.”