Facing friend doesn’t faze Brengle

When Madison Brengle woke up Monday morning, she thought she was going to be facing Lesia Tsurenko later in the day.

Madison Brengle

But, before lunch, the Dover native found out that one of her good friends — Arina Rodionova — was going to be on the other side of the net instead.

Brengle handled the change in opponents just fine, though, rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Rodionova in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday evening.

“They’re very close,” Brengle’s mom, Gabby, said about Rodionava. “When Maddie goes to Australia, she stays at their house. And Arina was at our house before going up to the U.S. Open. They’re very good buds.”

Tsurenko, a quarterfinalist at the Open a year ago, withdrew from the Open because of an elbow injury. Dealing with a last-minute change like that isn’t always easy.

“You’re kind of prepared to play a different person,” said Gabby. “You’ve scouted them. You kind of have a game plan and then it changes. But that’s part of the game. You do what you’ve got to do.”

Brengle will face another big challenge Wednesday in New York when she takes on 19th-seeded Dayana Yastremska of the Ukraine, who is ranked No. 25 in the world. The match for approximately 7 p.m. in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The 30-year-old Brengle, who is ranked No. 84, is trying to reach the third round of the U.S. Open for the first time since 2015. She’s advanced to the third round of Grand Slam events four times in her career with a 14-26 record in those tournaments.

Gabby Brengle says her daughter does a god job of not getting caught up in an opponent’s ranking. Brengle and the 20-year-old Yastremska are playing each other for the first time.

Yastremska did have to survive a grueling two-and-a-half first-round match with Astra Sharma before winning, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 on Monday. Brengle’s match lasted only 59 minutes.

“All of the players, for the most part, can beat each other on any given day,” said Gabby. “I mean that has been shown so often. I think it just depends how games match up and what you’re able to bring that day.”

Like most sports, tennis has been affected greatly by the coronavirus pandemic. The pro tour only resumed in early August.

Madison Brengle spent much of her summer in Dover, practicing with Rodionova at the end. She dropped her first two tournament matches once play resumed.

The players have been living in a “bubble” in New York with no fans in attendance at the U.S. Open.

“It’s a little hard to practice when you don’t have anything upcoming,” Gabby said about the layoff earlier this summer. “She still practiced but it’s a little different when you’re not practicing for something.

“During that whole long stretch of time off, I think it was a little difficult.”