Welcome to Florida Week! As the tours head southeast for the Miami Open, TENNIS.com and Baseline will feature all things Sunshine State. You’ll learn about the personalities, stories, teams and venues that have made Florida one of the tennis capitals of the world. We’ll also be reporting from the Miami Open in Key Biscayne.
As you’ll learn this week, when it comes to tennis, Florida isn’t just a state—it’s a state of mind.
KEY BISCAYNE — Most players would lament at having to compete in the qualifying draw, but not world No. 95-ranked Jared Donaldson.
The American is cruising in Miami, securing his fourth win in a row by topping Mischa Zverev, 6-4, 6-4, on Friday to reach the third round.
Donaldson worked his way through two rounds of qualifying before saving three match points in an epic 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund on Wednesday.
"I've actually had my best results coming through qualies," Donaldson said on Friday. "At the US Open I qualified and made the third round. I play well coming through qualies. That doesn't seem to be that big of a deal for me. Maybe I can ask to go through qualies even when I'm making main draw in the tournament.
"I'll say, 'Can I still come through qualies? Is that OK?'"
He's obviously joking, but it's not so bad in the qualifying draw. Qualifiers get two or three extra matches under their belt and have home court advantage against main-draw opponents because they're far more used to the conditions. Remember, at Indian Wells it was qualifier Vasek Pospisil who took out Andy Murray in the second round after being one of the first to arrive in the desert.
In Miami, Donaldson will be more settled into the environment than his next opponent, third-seeded Milos Raonic (who's still returning from an injury).
Qualifying hasn't always served Donaldson well, though. While Pospisil found his wings in the desert, Donaldson was dismissed in his first match by veteran Rajeev Ram. He had enough time before Miami to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP Challenger in Irving, Texas.
"Sometimes I've gotten in trouble with my emotions getting too high, but also I think I've also had trouble controlling myself too much," Donaldson said. "This tournament and last week, I was better balanced with being really aggressive, but not going crazy, and then not being way too calm. I think I've found a good balance mentally."
As Donaldson's ranking rises, he'll be seeing way more main draw acceptances in the future. It's also no secret that qualifiers have a lot less perks than main-draw entrants (like less per diem, fewer guest tickets, only two nights of hotel accommodations versus 10, and much more downgrades).
"Now that I'm making my ranking better, I just need to transition in the main draw also..." Donaldson said. "Sometimes in qualies you get treated like the low man on the totem pole. But in the main draw you get all the perks."