We are halfway into the 2015 Har-Tru Wildcard Challenge, which is a three-tournament swing on green clay to determine which American will receive the USTA's one main draw wildcard into Roland Garros.
The rules are that the American that receives the most ranking points combined ranking points from any two of the three events in Sarasota, Savannah, and Tallahassee will receive the wildcard. Obviously, the wildcard won't go to someone who doesn't need it to get into the main draw.
Sarasota has already been completed with two Argentines going to the final, and now Savannah is underway with four Americans already into the quarterfinals. Here are the overall standings going into play on Thursday.
1. Frances Tiafoe 47
2. Bjorn Fratangelo 37
3. Chase Buchanan 35
4. Jared Donaldson 33
5. Mitch Krueger 23
6. Tim Smyczek 15 (Doesn't need a WC into RG)
7. Austin Krajicek 8 (On the bubble for direct acceptance)
8. Tennys Sandgren 7
8. Tommy Paul 7
Chase Buchanan - The Ohio State graduate currently holds the lead, but it is almost impossible for him to win the wildcard, because he decided to play in Santos instead of Savannah. His only hope at this point is to receive a wildcard from Tallahassee, which he didn't originally put on the schedule.
Frances Tiafoe - At 17-years old, he is one of the fan favorites to win the wildcard. He will play Mitch Krueger in the Savannah quarterfinals on Friday. Last week he reached his first career quarterfinals on the Challenger Tour, doing so as a qualifier. In Savannah, he received a wildcard and wasted no time making his second career quarterfinal. He defeated Krueger in their only career meeting, which came earlier this year, resulting in a 7-5, 6-4 decision for Tiafoe. If he does defeat Krueger, he will be in at least a tie for first place going into his semifinal. He will also be in the main draw of Tallahassee with a wildcard.
Jared Donaldson - The other teenager for the main draw in Tallahassee is Donaldson, who at only 18-years old is already ranked high enough to get directly into the event. He too has reached the quarterfinals of both challengers, and in his Friday quarterfinal, he will play Bjorn Fratangelo, who is ranked just five spots higher than Donaldson, and has already crushed two Americans in straight sets this week.
Bjorn Fratangelo - Ranked at No. 165 in the world, 21-year old Fratangelo has already won a Challenger title this year and is a contender for the title in Savannah. He will play Donaldson in the quarterfinals, who he has never met before in a professional match. Fratangelo has never reached a grand slam main draw and has only played qualifying for two grand slams in his career (2011 US Open & 2013 US Open). He will reach a new career-high ranking on Monday whether he wins or loses on Friday.
Mitch Krueger - Krueger is enjoying the best year of his career, playing in futures, challengers, and qualifying for Masters. He claimed the title at the futures event in Los Angeles and is into the quarterfinals in Savanah, where he will play Tiafoe. Krueger already beat Jarmere Jenkins and Liam Broady. He has twice played in US Open qualifying but never reached the main draw of a grand slam event. Earlier this year, he reached a career-high ranking of 288.
Austin Krajicek - The Texas A&M alum is having one of the best 2015 seasons of any American, and as a result, he might not even need a wild card. He started the year at a career-high ranking of 152 and has already raised that to 116 thanks to three tour-level wins and a Challenger title in Leon, Mexico. He did not play in Savannah, but is currently set to be the No. 1 seed in Tallahassee. He reached the second round in Sarasota.