AMERICANS READY FOR
2018 AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Ashley Marshall | January 11, 2018
Team USA will get its Grand Slam season underway in Melbourne this weekend with a number of highly anticipated matchups at the Australian Open.
Thursday’s draw sees rising American teen Frances Tiafoe (pictured above) taking on 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Donald Young starting his campaign against 12-time major winner Novak Djokovic.
Tiafoe, 19, pushed Roger Federer to five sets in New York in August and will be looking to reach the second round of a major for the third time in his career after winning first-round matches in Melbourne and London in 2017.
Top U.S. men’s seed Jack Sock, ranked No. 8, will face Yuichi Sugita of Japan and could meet No. 11 seed Kevin Anderson in the fourth round. Also in the top half of the draw is 16th-seeded John Isner, who will play local favorite Matthew Ebden in the first round and could meet world No.
1 Rafa Nadal in the round of 16.
The remaining U.S. men’s seed, No. 13 Sam Querrey, starts against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and could be on course for a third-round match with big-serving Milos Raonic of Canada. Should he prevail, there’s the possibility of a round-of-16 encounter with 19-time Grand Slam champion and No. 2 seed Federer.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, Ryan Harrison will play Dudi Sela of Israel, Tennys Sandgren will open against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, and Steve Johnson will face a qualifier.
Jared Donaldson faces No. 21 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, while USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge winner Tim Smyczek has a real chance of making the second round when he plays Aussie wild card Alexei Popyrin.
In the women’s draw, world No. 5 and 2017 Australian Open runner-up Venus Williams will start her bid for a first title in Melbourne against former world No. 7 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Reigning US Open champion and No. 13 seed Sloane Stephens will go in search of her first win since her victory in New York when she takes on China’s Shuai Zhang. Should the seeds advance, she would play world No. 4 Elina Svitolina in the fourth round.
World No. 10 Coco Vandeweghe looks to build on her breakout year against Timea Babos of Hungary in Round 1, and she could meet current French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round. Vandeweghe reached the quarterfinals of every major except the French Open last year, including the semifinals in Australia, on her way to a career-high ranking.
2017 US Open finalist and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys, seeded 17th, will open her campaign against Qiang Wang of China.
Team USA’s women will also be on upset alert throughout the first two days of play. Madison Brengle plays No. 9 Johanna Konta, USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge winner Kristie Ahn plays No. 20 Barbora Strycova, and Varvara Lepchenko faces 14th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova.
Sofia Kenin makes her Australian Open debut up against No. 12 seed Julia Goerges of Germany, Taylor Townsend plays No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, Shelby Rogers meets Croatian No. 28 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, and CiCi Bellis begins against 30th-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.
In other first-round matches, Alison Riske plays Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, Lauren Davis faces Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, Christina McHale meets Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, and Nicole Gibbs, who crept into the final spot of the main draw as an alternate, will play a qualifier.
Kevin King, Denis Kudla, Mackenzie McDonald and Stefan Kozlov are all through to the final round of qualifying. Top-seeded men’s qualifier Taylor Fritz, No. 4 Bjorn Fratangelo, No. 11 Ernesto Escobedo, Tommy Paul and Christian Harrison will play their second qualifying-round matches on Friday.
In the women’s qualifying tournament, No. 14 seed Bernarda Pera, 15th-seeded Irina Falconi and No. 24 seed Julia Boserup are all safely into the second round of qualies. They are joined by unseeded Americans Danielle Collins, Caroline Dolehide and Kayla Day.