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Bjorn Fratangelo blog: Qualifying is so sweet

March 10, 2016 10:14 AM

RELATED: Bjorn Fratangelo blog: Prepping for Indian Wells

Bjorn Fratangelo, one of the country's top young players, turned pro in 2012 and since then has won nine USTA Pro Circuit and ITF-level singles titles. As a junior, the 22-year-old Pittsburgh native reached No. 2 in the ITF World Junior Rankings and became the first American since John McEnroe in 1977 to win the French Open boys’ singles title. Fratangelo, who is named after tennis legend Bjorn Borg, is currently in Indian Wells, Calif., to compete at the BNP Paribas Open, where he just qualified into the main draw by defeating world No. 35 Radek Stepanek. Read about Bjorn's win over Stepanek, his thoughts on qualifying into his first Masters 1000 main draw and more in his latest blog from Indian Wells.

March 9, 2016

Hey everyone! Bjorn here, back for another blog! I’m happy to tell you that I have qualified for my first Masters 1000 event! It feels like a huge relief for me after having multiple match points last year against Borna Coric and losing, and to do it against a former Top 10 player in Radek Stepanek makes it even sweeter. I’m not going to lie, I’ve struggled with moments like these in the past, so it’s a huge boost of confidence for me to get into the main draw here at Indian Wells.

Fratangelo-031016But let's not just make this about me. It was a great day for a lot of Americans. Ryan Harrison moved into the main draw and is now undefeated as an engaged man. Noah Rubin pulled out a good match against another American, Dennis Novikov. Tim Smyczek squeezed through against Tommy Paul. Kruegs [Mitchell Krueger] and Alex Sarkissian went through war, with Sark coming out on top. To have all these guys move to the main draw with the other Americans that are direct in is huge for Team USA. It really is starting to feel like a team environment among the U.S. guys, and I think it's a great thing because it will only make all of us better.

All in all, I’m excited to get the main draw underway. I played a really solid match today against Stepanek. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen him play hundreds of times on TV, so I definitely had the advantage when it came to scouting reports, since he knew nothing about me. That worked in my favor, as I was able to jump on him early and really never look back, but in the back of my mind, I was ready for anything. He plays very old school compared to most guys on tour these day. He plays some serve and volley, very flat off both wings, uses plenty of droppers (which I was 0-11 for today, but we won’t go there!). His feel is second to none. It was fun to play today. I was on one of the smaller show courts and the fans were packed in. I heard some people shout, “Let's go Pittsburgh,” and that was nice to hear.

After the win, it was back to business with the cool-down routine, thanks to Bret Walts. We really have to take the time and thank the whole strength-and-conditioning staff for what they do for all the Americans. From Satoshi Ochi to Gabriel Echiverria, Rodney Marshall, Bret and Gena Ball, they’re a huge part of our performance, and when we win, they win, too. So I got a good rub down and stretch with Bret, grabbed a recovery shake, took a shower and was on my way out the door.

There are still some men’s matches to be completed, so I don’t know who I’m up against yet. But, for now, I’m going to get some rest, have a nice dinner and be ready for tomorrow!