NEW YORK — Peter Polansky was still trying to qualify for the U.S. Open when fellow players began congratulating him.
When it comes to tennis' luckiest loser, there was no need to wait to see if he'd win.
Polansky lost to No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev on Tuesday in the first round, but not until after he'd become the first player to compete in all four Grand Slam tournaments in a season as a "lucky loser."
That is the term for someone who falls in the final stage of qualifying, yet still is randomly drawn into the main field when a spot opens up because of a withdrawal. That's how the 119th-ranked Canadian got into the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018.
And though he went 0-4 once he got to the majors, his good fortune made him the envy of some players far better than him.
"A couple of them have come up to me and just like rubbed my shoulders to try to get some luck, that kind of thing," Polansky said.
How good was Polansky at losing, and yet still coming out a winner? When he did it for the fourth time last week, fans on social media accused him of tanking so he could become the first person to accomplish the lucky loser Grand Slam.
"I swear, every match I lose, like, guys think I've thrown the match," Polansky said. "Like, sold the match."
Polansky had a chance to take luck out of the equation last week when he won his first two matches in New York. At that point, players knew he had it wrapped up.
"They were like, 'Congrats, you're in,'" Polansky said. "No, not yet."
He lost his final match to Donald Young, but sure enough, he was then drawn into the field of 128 anyway.
Polansky's ranking rose to a career-best 110 in June, not that far from the top 101 spots that qualify automatically for the U.S. Open. With some solid play later in the year, perhaps he can get there in time for Australia.
Then Polansky wouldn't even need luck.
"Yeah, that's the goal," he said. "I think with the summer I've had I've set myself up pretty well to achieve that. I think I need maybe one or two more good results and that should do it."
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