The qualifying rounds for this year's US Open Tennis Championships Next week get underway next week, with 20-year-old Estonian men's number one Mark Lajal set to make his Grand Slam debut.
Lajal is currently ranked ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) No. 241. His participation in the U.S. Open was confirmed on social media by his coach Thomas Le Boulch. Just a few weeks ago, Lajal was only on the shortlist to make it into the qualifiers. However, with several players ahead of him deciding to withdraw from the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Estonian managed to make the cut.
However, even at that time, Lajal was fairly confident of making the U.S. Open qualifiers. "I can be 90 percent sure that I'll make it," the Estonian men's number one told ERR in early August.
Lajal, who began the year ranked ATP No. 403, has had a great season so far, with the highlight being his first career ATP Challenger 75 tournament victory at Little Rock, USA in early June.
"It's really been a very positive season. Let's just say that the year started out tough, but despite that I've begun to play some pretty good tennis and I've been getting some pretty good wins. I also won my first Challenger title, and that's given me the chance to play in the U.S. Open," said Lajal, adding that his next big goal is to make the main draw at a Grand Slam.
The last time an Estonian men's tennis player played in a Grand Slam tournament was four years ago, when Jürgen Zopp qualified for Wimbledon. In addition to Zopp, other Estonian men who have played in Grand Slams include Toomas Leius, Peeter Lamp, Hindrek Sepp and Andres Võsand.
The qualifying rounds of this year's U.S. Open will feature 128 men and 128 women competing for 16 main draw spots in each bracket. The matches will take place from Tuesday, August 22, to Friday, August 25.
Editor: Michael Cole