Aug. 24, 2012
FLUSHING, N.Y. -- Former Vol and Knoxville native Rhyne Williams advanced to his first career Grand Slam in singles with a decisive victory in the final round of qualifying Friday at the U.S. Open.
Williams won his third qualifying match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in straight sets, defeating 23-year-old Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-2 on court 17 in 81 minutes.
"I'm still shaking," Williams told the Associated Press. "It's incredible. I've dreamed my whole life about playing here in the main draw. I've finally done it. Hopefully, I'll have many more years left here."
Much like he has all week in qualifying, Williams served well against Gojowczyk in their first career meeting. He had six aces -- including one to close out the first set -- and won 62 percent (16 of 26) of second serve points. Gojowczyk, by contrast, won just five points all afternoon on his second serve.
With the win, Williams will become the first Vol to play in a singles main draw of a Grand Slam since associate head coach Chris Woodruff played his last U.S. Open in 2001. Appropriately, both are from Knoxville and both held the No. 1 singles ranking while playing for the Vols.
Williams will face American great Andy Roddick in his opening match, which will likely be played Monday or Tuesday. Roddick, a former world No. 1, won the U.S. Open in 2003 and has reached the quarterfinals on six other occasions, including last year. He is seeded 20th in this year's tournament.
Last year, Williams lost in the second round of U.S. Open qualifying, but this week has been smooth sailing for the American wild card. He beat Vasek Pospisil, the seventh seed in qualifying, 6-3, 6-4, to start the tournament Tuesday. He then beat Andrey Golubev 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Thursday.
As a Vol, Williams had one of the best two years in program history before launching his professional career in 2011 after his sophomore year. He held the No. 1 ranking in singles for two months and culminated his second season by reaching the finals of the NCAA singles championships. He was a two-time singles All-American and helped the Vols to back-to-back SEC titles in 2010 and 2011.
Williams entered U.S. Open qualifying ranked No. 283 in the ATP World Rankings. He has won two ITF Futures singles titles since launching his professional career. In the spring, he qualified for his first ATP tour level event, winning two matches to play his way into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Well, Calif.