KING TO MAKE SLAM DEBUT
AT AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Ashley Marshall | January 13, 2018
Former Georgia Tech star Kevin King will make his Grand Slam singles debut at the Australian Open next week as one of four Americans to come through three qualifying rounds to make the main draw in Melbourne.
King defeated Australian John-Patrick Smith, 6-4, 7-6, in just under 90 minutes on Court 7 to secure his place in the 128-player field.
He will be joined by Denis Kudla, who rallied to beat No. 20 seed Matteo Berrettini, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5; Mackenzie McDonald, who toppled French journeyman Stephane Robert, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4; and Irina Falconi, who defeated Australian teenager Priscilla Hon, 6-2, 6-1.
It gives the U.S. 29 players in the main draw of the men's and women's competitions, the most of any nation.
King, 26, is currently ranked No. 213 in the world. He was a two-time ITA All-American with the Yellow Jackets in college and has predominantly played on the ATP Challenger Tour.
In September, King won the Cary Challenger in Cary, N.C., his biggest title to date, and in November he reached a career-high ranking of No. 202. He will face No. 15 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round Monday.
For Kudla, he's into his 15th Grand Slam main draw and his fifth Australian Open. He reached the second round in 2016 but fell in the final round of qualies last year, one of three losses in the third qualifying round of a major.
Kudla's best Grand Slam result came at Wimbledon in 2015, when he reached the fourth round. He'll have a chance for another deep run after surviving a barrage of big serves on Court 20 from Berrettini, who sent down 21 aces and recorded 49 winners to Kudla's 30. But it was the American who played the bigger points the best, winning half of his six break points while saving five of the seven the Italian created. He will take on fellow American Steve Johnson in his opening match.
Like King, McDonald will also be making his Melbourne main-draw debut. McDonald was given a wild card into the 2016 US Open after winning the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship while at UCLA in his only other Grand Slam main-draw appearance. He will play another qualifier, Elias Ymer of Sweden, in his first-round match.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Falconi claimed her spot in the draw, giving Team USA 17 women in the field. She will fill one of the 13 spots assigned for qualifiers and is set to face No. 23 seed Daria Gavrilova in Round 1.
Falconi, who is into her seventh Australian Open, has played in the main draw at 11 of the past 13 majors, and she has reached the second round Down Under in each of the past four years.
Six Americans fell at the final qualifying hurdle, including No. 4 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, No. 11 Ernesto Escobedo and Stefan Kozlov in the men's draw and 14th-seeded Bernarda Pera, Danielle Collins and Kayla Day in the women's draw.