Believe it or not, Robby Ginepri is the only active American male tennis player to have played in a Grand Slam singles semifinal. That includes the likes of John Isner, Sam Querrey and James Blake. Ginepri’s great run came back in 2005 at the U.S. Open where he won three consecutive five-setters before losing to Andre Agassi in another five-setter in the semifinals.
On Tuesday, however, Ginepri was slugging it out at the U.S. Open Qualifier on Court 17 against Ecuador’s Giovanni Lapentti, hoping to earn a spot in the main draw of the Open.
Sidelined by a freak bicycle accident in 2010 involving a squirrel, Ginepri has spent the better part of the last two years recovering from two elbow surgeries and trying to regain his form. He is currently ranked 236th in the ATP rankings and has not competed in the main draw of a Slam since 2011.
Ginepri looked good in his first round of the qualifier, defeating Lapentti in two close sets, 6-4, 7-6.
“I’m hitting the ball better than ever right now,” Ginepri said after the match. “It’s just tying it all at once when I’m out there on the court.”
I asked Ginepri about the experience of having to play qualifiers after tasting success in Majors.
“It’s a humbling experience but you have to accept it and take it for what it is. I’ve been working on the game as much as I could be. [I’m} just happy to be playing to be honest after the couple elbow surgeries. I wasn’t sure if I’d be back on the courts.”
Ginepri still has a long way to go to be back in the limelight of Arthur Ashe Stadium. To advance to the main draw of the Open, he will have to win two more matches. His next test is Somdev Devvarman, the former collegiate star at the University of Virginia.
Andy Luse is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand via interview at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.