For three long days, the two men from Brazil waited.
They were Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, a 27-year-old journeyman who had never reached the main draw of a major, and his 33-year-old coach, the former top-60 player Marcos Daniel.
Each morning this week, Da Silva signed his name onto the “lucky loser” list and then waited out the day with Daniel. His career-high No. 114 ranking ensured that if any man withdrew from the U.S. Open before his first-round match, the spot would go to Da Silva, a runner-up in qualifying. But the first round was ending.
And then, suddenly, their persistence was richly rewarded. After two strokes of fortune on Wednesday, Da Silva is now preparing for a second-round match against American Alex Bogomolov Jr.
First, sixth-seeded Robin Soderling pulled out of the Open, citing a virus. Daniel and Da Silva were in the locker room when an official told Da Silva he had 20 minutes to get to Grandstand. Da Silva’s opponent would be No. 618-ranked Louk Sorensen, an Irish qualifier.
“I told him, for Sorensen, it’s a great opportunity because he was going to play Soderling — no chance, almost,” Daniel said. “I told him, ‘Just be careful, because probably this is a good advantage for you. Look, be smart. Push the ball back with a good rhythm, like 80% of the power. Don’t miss, because the guy’s gonna try to hit everything.’”
Favoring his stronger forehand and audibly encouraging himself, the steady Da Silva won the first set 6-0. During the second set, the 26-year-old Sorensen energetically evened the match. But Sorensen had already triggered Da Silva’s second lucky break; he cramped up late in the third set. Outplayed and in pain, Sorensen retired while trailing 6-0, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0.
After the match, Da Silva, who will enter the top 100 after the Open, flashed a toothy grin.
“I’m outside of the tournament, and a few hours change everything,” Da Silva said. “First, I play — ‘Come on, let’s play!’ And then I won — ‘Come on, second round?’ It’s just funny, you know?”