Tennis may be “a bullshit sport” (quote generally attributed to Richard Gasquet), it sometimes offers great stories. On the verge of elimination in the last qualifying round on Friday, here is Clara Burel qualified for the third round of the US Open thanks to her courageous victory against the 43rd in the world Alison Van Uytvanck (6-4, 4-6, 6-4), Thursday evening on court n°5 of Flushing Meadows.
Six days after saving five match points against Misaki Doi (2-6, 6-4, 7-6 ), the first with the pressure to serve following a long rain break, and two days after winning a prestige win over recent Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina (6-4, 6-4), the 21-year-old French equals the best performance of her (very young) career by joining the third round of a Grand Slam (she had already done so at Roland-Garros in 2020) .
Van Uytvanck cracks late in the third set
If the match did not reach tennis heights, Burel had the merit of clinging to the heart of his inner storm. After the loss of the second set, marked by her great difficulties in keeping her commitments (3/5 lost) and in existing behind her second balls (38% of points won), the 131st in the world could have collapsed while her body, especially his right thigh, showed signs of fatigue.
Before this US Open, Clara Burel had never beaten a player in the top 50 on the WTA circuit (once in the Fed Cup last year against Alexandrova, 32nd): she has just dominated two successively in New York (Rybakina 25th and Van Uytvanck 43rd).
Pushed by the French clan, including Julien Benneteau, Sébastien Grosjean, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Nicolas Mahut, Burel made the round back. She also took advantage of the few welcome gifts offered by her opponent (42 unforced errors in total against 29 for Burel), like this yucky smash in the net on a third set entry break point, or this double foul followed by an off-center forehand that allowed the Breton to unbreak at 2-1. Then, again, with an easy backhand volley that escaped the Belgian at 3-3, 30A.
At the Sabalenka challenge, the miracle of the second round
” I can not stand it anymore “, Burel breathed, holding his right thigh after a long rally lost in the money time. However, despite the second balls pushed to 100 km / h, the French easily kept her last commitments. And it was Van Uytvanck who cracked first. When it was time to serve to stay in the match, at 5-4, the Belgian player made four big unforced errors at the start of the rally, including three on the backhand, which gave Burel the victory.
In the third round on Saturday, she will challenge the 6th world Aryna Sabalenka, miraculously this Thursday: the Belarusian was trailing 6-2, 5-1 and saved two match points before overthrowing Kaia Kanepi (2-6, 7-6 6-4).