Americans remain in
hunt for AO main-draw spot
Ashley Marshall | January 10, 2019
Chris Eubanks recorded one of the upsets of the Australian Open Qualifying Tournament on Day 3 in Melbourne to remain on track to reach his second-ever Grand Slam main draw.
The 21-year-old American defeated rising Canadian teenager and No. 2 seed Felix Auger Aliassime, 7-6, 6-3, to advance to the final round of qualifying. Former Georgia Tech standout Eubanks (pictured above) will now face Spain’s Pedro Martinez in the third and final round, with a spot in the 128-player main draw up for grabs.
Auger Aliassime is currently ranked No. 106 in the world, 65 places above Eubanks, who defeated world No. 152 Corentin Moutet of France in three sets on Tuesday. Auger Aliassime, 18, narrowly missed direct entrance into the main draw, which cut off at 102. It marks the fifth time in his young career that Eubanks, who made his major debut at the 2017 US Open, falling to Dudi Sela of Israel in straight sets, has beaten a player ranked inside the Top 110.ADVERTISEMENT
There were some notable wins in the women’s qualifying draw, too. Christina McHale upset No. 12 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia, 6-3, 6-3; Jamie Loeb defeated No. 5 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, 6-3, 6-4; and No. 16 seed Jen Brady moved to one win from the main draw, dropping just two games to Conny Perrin of Switzerland.
Danielle Lao won the all-American battle on Court 5, beating No. 19 seed Caroline Dolehide in a 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 rollercoaster; Nicole Gibbs needed just 68 minutes to beat Paula Ormaechea of Argentina, 7-5, 6-2; and No. 23 seed Varvara Lepchenko beat Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia, 6-1, 6-3.
Tim Smyczek also advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Pedja Krstin, while Mitchell Krueger rallied from a set down to upset No. 20 seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. No. 24 seed Bjorn Fratangelo gave the U.S. a 10th player in the third round of qualies, outlasting Stefano Napolitano of Italy, 10-4, in the new-format third-set tiebreak.
Thursday’s results leave six U.S. women and four American men one win away from the main draw.
On the women’s side, Gibbs will face No. 3 seed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, Loeb will play No. 28 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, and Lao will face Iga Swiatek of Poland. In an all-American battle for a coveted main-draw spot, McHale and Lepchenko will battle it out on Court 11. And on Court 14, 16th-seeded Brady will face Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.
Of the 16 spots assigned to qualifiers, five are drawn against seeds: No. 6 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 19 Caroline Garcia and No. 30 Maria Sharapova. Two qualifiers will play each other in the first round Tuesday.
On the men’s side, Fratangelo will play Ze Zhang of China, Smyczek will play Gleb Sakharov of France, and Krueger will meet No. 13 seed Marco Trungelliti of Argentina.
Should the Americans advance, they’ll have a 50-50 chance of avoiding a seed, including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round.
Elsewhere on Day 3 of qualifying, Tommy Paul fell to No. 4 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, and No. 28 seed Noah Rubin fell to Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, 7-5, 6-1.
Kristie Ahn lost to third-seeded Swiss Golubic, 6-4, 6-4; Asia Muhammad fell to 10th-seeded Ivana Jorovic of Serbia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; and Allie Kiick lost to No. 11 seed Lin Zhu of China, 6-1, 7-5.