Take Five: The top American stories from the 2023 Australian Open
Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on USTA.com recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. We're reacapping the last fortnight here, as the first Grand Slam tournament of 2023 was one to remember for U.S. tennis.
Three American men reach AO quarterfinals
For the first time since the 2000 Australian Open, three American men were among the last eight Down Under. It was the first time since the 2005 US Open that the nation had three quarterfinalists at any Slam, as Tommy Paul, Ben Shelton and Sebastian Korda all enjoyed career-best major runs to reach that stage or beyond.
Paul, who advanced the semis before falling to Djokovic, broke into the Top 20 for the first time on Monday, while Shelton cracked the Top 50 and Korda rose to a career-high ranking of world No. 26. The trio are part of 10 U.S. men inside the ATP's Top 50 this week.
Other notable results for American men in Melbourne included Mackenzie McDonald's upset of Rafael Nadal and Jenson Brooksby's win against No. 2 seed Casper Ruud. McDonald and Brooksby were the first two American men to beat the No. 1 (Nadal) and No. 2 (Ruud) seeds at a major in nearly 30 years.
Pegula reaches third straight AO quarterfinal
With Jessica Pegula reaching the women's quarterfinals, 25 percent of the players remaining at the business end of the event were Americans. No. 3 seed Pegula didn't lose a set through four rounds before being beaten in the last eight by former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Her fellow Top 10 player, Coco Gauff, also matched her best Australian Open result by reaching Round 4.
It was also a strong fortnight for American women up and down the rankings. Unseeded Bernarda Pera, and qualifier Katie Volynets were among those to make the third round, along with Gauff, Pegula, Danielle Collins and Madison Keys. Pera was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over No. 29 seed and 2022 WTA Newcomer of the Year Zheng Qinwen in Round 2, while Volynets won a three-set stunner over No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova in the same round for her first career Top 10 win.
A total of 35 Americans—17 men and 18 women, the most of any nation—competed at the first Grand Slam of the year in the men’s and women’s singles main draws. Fourteen of them, eight men and six women, reached the third round—the most at the AO since 15 in 1996.
Deep runs for U.S. women in doubles
Gauff and Pegula also reached the semifinals of the women's doubles event, while Desirae Krawczyk lost in the mixed doubles semifinals with her British partner Neal Skupski.
Four American women reached the quarterfinals in women's doubles; including the all-American pair of Gauff and Pegula, Krawczyk and her Dutch partner Demi Schuurs were beaten by eventual champions and No. 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, while Caroline Dolehide and her partner Anna Kalinskaya lost to No. 10 seeds, and eventual runners-up, Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara. The all-Japanese pair also beat Gauff and Pegula in the semifinals to reach their first Grand Slam final.
Casey Ratzlaff plays first AO wheelchair tournament
The top-ranked American man in wheelchair tennis is continuing to make moves in his professional career: Casey Ratzlaff played his first Australian Open, the fourth Grand Slam tournament of his career and first outside of the US Open. He joined Dana Mathewson and David Wagner as Americans in the wheelchair competition in Melbourne.
In her second Australian Open, Mathewson reached the singles quarterfinals and the doubles semifinals. She was a 6-3, 6-2 winner against Argentina's María Florencia Moreno in Round 1 before losing to eventual runner-up and No. 2 seed Yui Kamiji, while she and Great Britain's Lucy Shuker were beaten in the penultimate round by eventual champions and top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot.
They previously beat Colombia's Angelica Bernal and Germany's Katharina Kruger in the quarterfinals.
Competing in his 16th Australian Open, Wagner reached the quad singles semifinals and the quad doubles semifinals. He beat his longtime doubles partner, Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain, in the quarterfinals, before falling to eventual champion Sam Schroder of the Netherlands in the semifinals.
Tien, Williams shine in junior event
Learner Tien and Cooper Williams continued the recent tradition of American junior success at the Australian Open by winning the boys' doubles title in Melbourn. Tien also came within two points of completing a trophy sweep, but ultimately collected the runner-up plate for his efforts in the singles event.
In the doubles final, Tien and Williams defeated top seeds Alexander Blockx and Joao Fonseca, 6-4, 6-4, with both Americans earning their maiden Grand Slam crown. Blockx was also across the net from Tien in the singles title match, which the third-seeded Belgian won by a 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(9) scoreline in Rod Laver Arena. The thrilling singles final was decided by a 10-point tiebreak that was knotted at 9-9 before the third-seeded Blockx won the final two points.
Unseeded in Melbourne, 2022 USTA Boys' 18s national champion Tien reached the final with the loss of just one set, losing just 24 games; that run included a 6-0, 6-3 opening win over No. 7 seed Hayato Matsuoka of Japan, and a 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal victory over second-seeded Bulgarian Iliyan Radulov in just 40 minutes. He came from a set down in his Round 2 win over Italy's Federico Cina.
Recapping Americans at the Australian Open on USTA.com
Professional tennis wasn't only being played in Melbourne over the last two weeks. Chronologically, other notable American results around the world included:
- Emma Navarro reached the final at the USTA Pro Circuit W60 in Vero Beach, Fla., while Francesca Di Lorenzo and Makenna Jones won the doubles title.
- Peyton Stearns beat Robin Montgomery in an all-American final at the USTA Pro Circuit W25 in Orlando, Fla. The semifinals were an all-American affair, as Emina Bektas and Ann Li were the beaten semifinalists. Jada Hart and Rasheeda McAdoo teamed to win the doubles title.
- Nathan Ponwith beat Christian Langmo in an all-American final at the USTA Pro Circuit M25 event in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Alfredo Perez and his partner Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic won the doubles title over American Sekou Bangoura and Canada's Roy Stepanov.