Four Americans qualify
for 2019 Australian Open
Ashley Marshall | January 11, 2019
A quarter of rising Americans punched their ticket into the main draw of the Australian Open on Friday, giving the U.S. a total of 31 players – more than any other nation – in the first Grand Slam of the season.
There were wins for Bjorn Fratangelo, Varvara Lepchenko, Chris Eubanks and Mitchell Krueger on the final day of qualifying, with the latter two set to make their main-draw debuts at Melbourne Park next week.
It takes Team USA’s tally to 16 men and 15 women in the 128-player field, twice as many as any other country except Australia or Spain.
In the men’s draw, Eubanks built on his impressive second-round upset of Felix Auger Aliassime with a straight-sets win over Pedro Martinez of Spain, 6-3, 6-3. The victory means Eubanks, who has won six consecutive sets in Melbourne, will make his Australian Open main-draw debut against No.
19 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the first round Monday.
Eubanks, a standout collegiate player at Georgia Tech, previously made his Grand Slam debut at the 2017 US Open, where he lost to Dudi Sela in straight sets.
Also set to make his Aussie Open debut is Krueger, who needed three sets for the third straight match to book his place in the draw. After wins over Federico Gaio and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras in his first two matches, world No. 231 Krueger (pictured above) outlasted No. 13 seed and world No. 121 Marco Trungelliti of Argentina, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Krueger’s reward is a showdown with world No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic.
Like with Eubanks, Krueger has one previous Grand Slam match under his belt: At the US Open in August, Krueger, who turns 25 Saturday, took the opening set in his first-round match against Roberto Carballes Baena before eventually succumbing in four sets.
Elsewhere on Friday, Fratangelo rallied from a set down to beat Ze Zhang of China, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1, to secure a berth in the main draw for the third consecutive year. Searching for his first win in Melbourne, 25-year-old Fratangelo will face No. 29 seed Gilles Simon of France on Tuesday.
Of the four American men to reach the final round, only Tim Smyczek failed to advance, falling 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Gleb Sakharov of France.
On the women’s side, No. 23 qualifying seed Varvara Lepchenko defeated countrywoman Christina McHale, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, to join the likes of Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys in the women’s main draw.
Lepchenko now has a chance to progress even further next week, having drawn fellow qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia in the first round. Should Lepchenko, competing in the main draw for the 11th time in her career, advance on Tuesday, she would face either No. 10 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia or Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in the Round of 64.
In other final-round qualifying action, No. 18 seed Nicole Gibbs fell to third-seeded Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, 6-3, 7-6, and Jamie Loeb lost to No. 28 seed Karolina Muchova, 6-4, 6-1. Danielle Lao lost to Iga Swiatek of Poland, 6-1, 6-3, and No. 16 seed Jennifer Brady was defeated by Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-3, 6-4.
In the women’s main draw, the headline for U.S. tennis fans is in the top half, and specifically in the top quarter, which includes Serena and Venus Williams, world No. 1 and 2018 Aussie Open finalist Simona Halep, former US Open champion Sam Stosur and former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
Serena, seeded 16th, begins her quest for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam women’s singles title against Tatjana Maria of Germany, with the winner set to face either Bouchard or wild card Shuai Peng.
The 37-year-old could potentially meet Stosur or No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round and No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarters – assuming she prevails in the Round of 16 against the likely winner of Venus and Halep. Then there’s the mouth-watering prospect of a US Open rematch against No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka in the semifinals, although No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina is another potential hurdle to clear if she plays deep into the second week.
On the men’s side, an American has not contested the final in Melbourne since Andre Agassi defeated Rainer Schuettler in 2003, but John Isner will be considered among the contenders after a strong 2018 campaign that saw him win the Miami Open – his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title – and reach at least the quarterfinals of consecutive majors in London and New York.
Isner opens against another 6-foot, 11-inch American Reilly Opelka in what will be the tallest Grand Slam match in history. The other U.S. men’s seed, Steve Johnson, plays Andreas Seppi of Italy.
The bottom halves of the men’s and women’s main draws play their first-round matches Monday (Sunday night going into Monday morning in the U.S.), leaving the top halves to begin play Tuesday.
Sloane Stephens  vs. Taylor Townsend
Serena Williams  vs. Tatjana Maria
Madison Keys  vs. Destanee Aiava [WC]
Whitney Osuigwe [WC] vs. Bianca Andreescu [Q]
Venus Williams vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu 
Sofia Kenin vs. Veronika Kudermetova [Q]
Madison Brengle vs. Misaki Doi [Q]
Amanda Anisimova vs. Monica Niculescu
Alison Riske vs. Kiki Bertens 
Danielle Collins vs. Julia Goerges 
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Zoe Hives [WC]
Sachia Vickery vs. Ysaline Bonaventure [Q]
Bernarda Pera vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia [Q]
Varvara Lepchenko [Q] vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva [Q]
John Isner  vs. Reilly Opelka
Steve Johnson  vs. Andreas Seppi
Denis Kudla vs. Marc Polmans [WC]
Frances Tiafoe vs. Prajnesh Gunneswaran [Q]
Mackenzie McDonald vs. Andrey Rublev
Michael Mmoh vs. Radu Albot
Tennys Sandgren vs. Yoshihito Nishioka
Taylor Fritz vs. Cam Norrie
Ryan Harrison vs. Jiri Vesely
Jack Sock [WC] vs. Alex Bolt [WC]
Bradley Klahn vs. Hyeon Chung 
Sam Querrey vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Chris Eubanks [Q] vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili 
Bjorn Fratangelo [Q] vs. Gilles Simon 
Mitchell Krueger [Q] vs. Novak Djokovic