Camila Giorgi Has Talent to Stay on Tour, But Finding Finances a Struggle.

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With that, little-known Camila Giorgi, a 21-year-old who could pass for 14, walked through the tunnel and onto the court at New York City’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, tennis’s largest venue both physically and metaphorically. In diminishing twilight on this Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Giorgi was greeted by indifferent if polite applause from the 20,000 or so fans in the stands.

The bona fide ovation came when Giorgi’s opponent appeared. Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the former top-ranked player and current fiancée of Rory McIlroy, would be on the other side of the net for this third-round match at the 2013 U.S. Open.

Though Giorgi was ranked so modestly that she’d had to qualify to get into the main draw, she was, as the TV interviewer had predicted, hardly cowed. Striking the ball uninhibitedly, taking chances and showing off a whimsical, versatile game, she hung with Wozniacki for more than two hours. As her father, Sergio, pumped his fists in the stands, and his spectacular head of Einstein hair — the subject of innumerable cutaways in the TV coverage — shook in the night breeze, Camila pushed the match to a third set.

By then the winsome journeywoman had won over the crowd. Punching above her weight class (generously listed at 5-foot-6 and 119 pounds, she was still giving up four inches to her opponent), Giorgi dictated points and pasted 46 winners to Wozniacki’s 13. She closed out the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, winning what Robert Lansdorp, the renowned coach, would judge “the most surprising match” of the women’s draw.

By reaching the fourth round, Giorgi boosted her ranking to No. 79 and was guaranteed $162,190, the biggest payday of her career. After match point against Wozniacki, as Sergio did a tarantella in the stands, Camila stood beaming on the court. “Hey there, Giorgi girl!” the courtside interviewer gushed. When Giorgi responded to questions with staccato answers that revealed her shaky grasp of English, it only expanded her constituency of admirers. She left to a standing ovation.

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