Lindsay Davenport shares interesting Darwin Blanch story

Blanch received a Madrid wildcard and faced Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open

Much has been made about wildcards into tournaments this year. The process of selecting players to give wildcards to has been under intense scrutiny. The tournament director has the discretion and decision-making authority, but these individuals' motives have been criticized.

Whether the wildcard is given to players who are returning from a break from the game like Simona Halep or Emma Raducanu, or the wildcard is given to an up-and-coming player like Darwin Blanch at the Mutua Madrid Open, it does help the player avoid grueling qualifying rounds and get some real-time match experience.

Blanch's wildcard resulted in an unlucky draw. With 128 players in the men's singles draw, he faced Rafael Nadal in the opening round and was blown off the court. The nervous 16-year-old got a quick reality check of his development winning only one game in his 1-6 0-6 loss. This is where tennis legend Lindsay Davenport enters the story. She provided a critical piece of information about Blanch,

What Lindsay Davenport shared about Darwin Blanch

Davenport said Blanch was offered a qualification wildcard for the 2023 US Open. Blanch, a hitting partner for Carlos Alcaraz who trains at Alcaraz's coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero's academy, initially accepted it.

Then Juan Carlos Ferrero or someone on Blanch's team told the then-15-year-old Blanch that he was not ready for a Grand Slam wildcard, and Blanch rejected the wildcard. JCF's instincts should not be scrutinized; he has a reputation for showing tremendous care and nurturing of Alcaraz from his teenage years so presumably he is doing the same with Blanch.

Davenport's story shows that Blanch's interests are being carefully watched. He also had a wildcard at the Miami Open so it appears JCF is allowing him to accept them on different surfaces but not yet at Grand Slams.

Unless the ATP and WTA Tours choose to regulate the distribution of wildcards at its tournaments, there is no reason for players or fans to complain about the process. It will not change anything.

Players accepting wildcards should not be criticized either. It would be hard for a young player to resist accepting a wildcard into a main draw to get practical experience and perhaps win a round or so in the tournament. The visibility and money could fuel their growth and development in the sport.

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