They were 128 on Tuesday. This Friday, only 32 remain, fighting for 16 main draw spots at the last Grand Slam event of the season. There haven’t been too many surprises in the first round. However, the second round of the U.S. Open qualifications brought us some, and also many tight matches, that likely ended up in a few heartbreaks for some of the players involved.
I think that the main surprise was the defeat of second seed Aljaz Bedene, who even had a match point in his battle against Daniel Kosakowski. The American ended up winning 6-3 3-6 7-6(7). However, it is only this Friday morning that we found out in which condition the 23-year-old was when he played this match, as he wrote on his Facebook page that he played with an appendicitis, had been feeling bad for two days, and was waiting for a surgery to have his appendix removed. Yet the Slovenian fought for 2:51. Talk about courage (or craziness)! Nevertheless, it doesn’t take the merit away from the young American, who had surprised many in Los Angeles last year when, coming from the qualifications (where he defeated Tatsuma Ito in Q2), he made it to the second round, losing to eventual winner, Ernests Gulbis.
To reach the main draw, Kosakowski will face another surprise, Hiroki Moriya, who defeated Wayne Odesnik, 3-6 6-1 7-5. The World n° 229 has played mainly Futures and Challenger events, mostly in Asia and Australia, since the beginning of the season. His defeating the 20th seed on home ground was really a huge surprise, as most thought it would be a given match for the American. In the end, the 21-year-old Japanese emerged the winner, for his best Grand Slam result of the season (he lost in the second round of qualifications in both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, respectively to Igor Sijsling and Jesse Levine).
Michael Berrer and Ruben Bemelmans, 12th and 13th seeds, were both also surprisingly upset. The German fell to Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol, ranked 219, 2-6 7-5 6-4, whereas the young Belgian was defeated by Marius Copil in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. After the match, Bemelmans tweeted that it wasn’t his best match of the year and seemed pretty philosophic about it.
Return on the youngsters
After the completition of the first round, I mentioned a few youngsters who impressed in the opening of the qualifications. I must say they continued with that good impression, as Rhyne Williams, without a doubt the surprise of the initial round of qualifications, defeated Andrey Golubev 7-6(5) 6-2 to reach the final round, where he’ll face Peter Gojowczyk of Germany. There may be nearly 100 ranking spots separating the two players (in favour of the German), but with the support of the crowd, and his immense talent, I think it is feasible for Williams.
The other two featured youngsters who emerged winners in the second round, Guido Pella and Bradley Klahn, however, will have a very tough task to qualify for the main event. Pella, who defeated Tennys Sandgren convincingly, 6-4 6-2, will face n° 4 seed Lukas Rosol. For his part, Klahn won a quite disputed two-setter against Marco Trungelliti, 6-4 7-6(2), and will face n° 9 seed Florent Serra, in a match that should really be fun to watch. If either of the two young players qualifies for the main draw, it will be a well-deserved surprise.
Mitchell Krueger, for his part, was defeated 4-6, 6-3 6-4 by Rik De Voest in 2:18. A tight match and a valuable experience for Krueger.
A few second-round matches were so tight that they ended up being heartbreakers for the ones who were on the losing side.
Young Australian James Duckworth, whose aggressive play was discovered by many at the beginning of the season when he took a set off Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open and fought a mighty battle against the Serbian, was defeated 6-4 3-6 7-5 by 30th seed Bobby Reynolds, even being a break up in the decisive set.
Robert Farah had match point against Ricardas Berankis, but ended up defeated 2-6 7-6(7) 7-5 by the third seed.
Finally, veteran Frenchman Marc Gicquel lost a 3:05 battle to Tsung-Hua Yang, 6-7(7) 6-4 7-5.
Matches to follow
To be honest, most matches in the final qualifications round are matches to follow, but these are those that will catch most of my attention:
-  Ricardas Berankis (LTU) vs Tim Smyczek (USA)
-  Lukas Rosol (CZE) vs  Guido Pella (ARG)
- Maxime Authom (BEL) vs Peter Polansky (CAN)
-  Florent Serra (FRA) vs Bradley Klahn (USA)
- Guido Andreozzi (ARG) vs  Sergei Bubka (UKR)
At the end of the day, from the 128 they were on Tuesday, we will know the identity of the 16 men who will be in the main draw, and who will be sorted to play (in the order where they appear in the draw):
- Bjorn Phau (GER)
- Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
- Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
- Ivan Dodig (CRO)
- Adrian Ungur (ROU)
-  Kei Nishikori (JPN)
-  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
- Jürgen Melzer (AUT)
- Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP)
-  Andy Roddick (USA)
- Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
- Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA)
The last four will play each other, two for a chance to face the winner of Nishikori and another qualifier (in Andy Murray’s quarter), the others to face the winner of  Viktor Troicki and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (in David Ferrer’s quarter).
Who will be the 16 worthy players? We will know by the end of the evening.