Australian Open 2022 – So far it’s the American dream for four women and four men at the Australian Open

There were no Americans in the quarterfinals of the singles draw at the US Open in September.

No men. No women. Anybody.

It was the first time in the tournament’s more than century-long history that there was such an absence and it was the latest blow to the once-dominant tennis nation. For years, fans and pundits have wondered who, if anyone, could replace Serena and Venus Williams as the face of American tennis and fight for major titles, and while women like Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin have won Grand Slams, no one has been able to consistently win on the sport’s highest stage, and on the men’s side, the drought extends to Andy Roddick’s 2003 victory at the US Open.

It’s far too early to know how things will go at the Australian Open, and maybe the country will suffer a similar fate again in week two, but maybe, just maybe, there are signs of optimism in Melbourne. There are four women and four men in the third round, and among them, five are under 25 years old.

And among these young players, they bring a range of experience, potential and resumes. Some, like Amanda Anisimova, who reached the Roland-Garros semi-finals in 2019, and Sebastian Korda, who twice reached a major fourth round, have already had undeniable success in their careers, but others like Maxime Cressy are in the round of 16. for the first time in a major. This is a promising development for the country and it raises the oft-debated question:

Has the next generation of American tennis players finally arrived?

Pam Shriver, 21-time major doubles champion and current ESPN analyst, thinks this younger generation of players is talented but isn’t quite ready to answer that question.

“It’s tough because I see enthusiasm for results that in the past would have been considered poor,” Shriver said. “I feel at that time, not so much in the women’s game but in the men’s game, it’s like, ‘Oh if we get 10 [American] guys, or 15 guys, in the main draw and eight in the second round, it was a good tournament. And no, [to me] we have a good major if there is a semi-finalist and two quarter-finalists, then the next major is good if one of those players reaches the final.

“I come from a time when it’s really difficult for me to get excited about a lot of people in the Round of 32 and not beyond.”

But those who remain in the draw will now have the chance to show that they can in fact go further than that and won’t be content with mediocre results either.

Making his main draw debut at the Australian Open, 21-year-old Korda soundly beat No. 12 seed Cameron Norrie in his opening match (just days after having to be quarantined following a positive COVID-19 test) and followed it up with a hard-fought win over Corentin Moutet in a fifth-set tiebreaker. He next faces Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 19 seed, on Friday.

“Korda has real potential,” Shriver said. “I don’t think he played a great game [against Moutet] but I like the way he handled the situation and found a way to win.”

Cressy, who won an NCAA title at UCLA, made his first ATP final earlier this month in Melbourne, beating former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals before ultimately falling to Rafael Nadal. Cressy, 24, built his momentum at the Australian Open and defeated fellow American John Isner in five sets in his opening round match and Tomas Machac on Thursday. He will face joker Christopher O’Connell on Saturday with a legitimate opportunity to continue his Aussie summer.

Reilly Opelka, 24, has won two ATP Tour titles and reached the fourth round of the 2021 US Open for his best Grand Slam result. As the No. 23 seed at the Australian Open, he has recorded two straight wins en route to the third round and will face No. 14 seed Denis Shapovalov on Friday.

Taylor Fritz, also 24, beat compatriot Frances Tiafoe on Thursday, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5), to reach the eighth major third round of his career. He has never reached a fourth round and will look to do so against No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Anisimova, 20, won a premier tournament in the Melbourne Summer Set and holds a 7-0 record on the year in her third-round clash against defending champion Naomi Osaka on Friday at Rod Laver Arena. She beat reigning Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic in the second round and is relishing the chance to see how her game stacks up against some of the best on the tour.

“I just want to see how our matches will match up,” Anisimova said of Osaka. “I mean, she’s [a] former number 1 of course [a] Grand Slam champion, so, I mean, it will be exciting. I just can’t wait to be there.”

And while Anisimova is the only Gen Z among American women, her remaining compatriots Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Danielle Collins – all in their late twenties – have all reached the quarter-finals (or better) in Melbourne before. and are able to make another deep run.

Shriver is hopeful the Remaining Americans will make it through Week Two in Melbourne, but thinks there’s still a lot of work to be done for the country to return to its former glory.

“We’ve been happy with these results for a while, and I think we need to look at why countries like Italy are doing so much better than us,” Shriver said. “What’s their secret sauce? But in the meantime, the only thing these players can do is give their best. I just don’t want them to settle for the round of 16 and quarter-finals, it’s like it was an amazing result. I want them to think big.”

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