By E.J. Crawford
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will be taking a look at players who could contend or surprise during this year's Emirates Airline US Open Series. Up now: fast-rising American Madison Brengle.
The Madison Brengle File
Residence: Dover, DE
Current Rank: 44
Career-High Rank: 44 (February 2015)
Best 2014 Series Finish: Did not play
Brengle was a former junior standout, reaching the Australian Open and Wimbledon girls’ singles finals in 2007 and rising to No. 4 in the world junior rankings. But over the years she has struggled to translate that into pro success, settling into a career as a challenger circuit grinder and finishing ranked between No. 150 and No. 200 each year from 2009 to 2013.
All that changed last summer. Brengle dedicated herself to playing more aggressively, and the change paid immediate dividends. Despite missing some time in October due to surgery to remove what she called a “touch” of skin cancer on her leg, the Delaware native captured titles at $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit events in Las Vegas and Lexington, Ky., and won her first-round match at the 2014 US Open for her first career victory in a Grand Slam main draw.
Those results propelled her into the year-end Top 100 for the first time – at No. 94 – and set the stage for a stunning start to 2015. Brengle opened the year by winning three matches in qualifying and advancing to the round of 16 at the WTA event in Brisbane and then winning three more qualifying matches and reaching her first tour final in Hobart. She capped her run Down Under by toppling No. 13 seed Andrea Petkovic and Top 40 player CoCo Vandeweghe to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Brengle is currently ranked No. 44 – a jump of 49 spots in the rankings this year that is by far the most of anyone currently in the Top 50. Her goal now is to prove that her recent play is sustainable and not simply the product of a well-timed hot streak.
The good news is that her game is built on a solid foundation – her ground strokes are rock steady and her movement ranks as perhaps her strongest asset. And while Brengle’s experience in the Series has been limited – her ranking last summer was too low to earn her direct entry into Series events – her game and conditioning are well-suited to the Series' cement floors and summer heat. With very few points to defend until July, there is every reason to think that Brengle will be a full-time player on the Series this summer – and very likely, a contender as well.