It’s been nearly two full a long time since this many U.S. males reached Week 2 on the Australian Open.
And whereas that group in 2004 included a few Grand Slam champions in Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, every thing is all so new for the quartet there this time: Tommy Paul, who’s 25; J.J. Wolf, 24; Sebastian Korda, 22; and Ben Shelton, 20, are all about to make their fourth-round debuts at Melbourne Park.
It should really feel very very similar to an opportunity for a career-defining end result for them and different younger males nonetheless within the bracket.
“I have not considered it an excessive amount of, truthfully, as a result of I simply have that one-match-at-a-time mentality, however I feel it is laborious for anybody to look previous that. There’s been a variety of upsets,” the 67th-ranked Wolf, who performed faculty tennis at Ohio State, stated after eliminating fortunate loser Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in an all-American matchup. “However upsets occur for a purpose. Lots of people out listed below are good. It’s a actual alternative.”
Wolf subsequent performs yet one more American, 89th-ranked Shelton, who received the NCAA title for the College of Florida as a sophomore final 12 months, then turned professional. Utilizing his passport to journey outdoors of the US for the primary time in his life, Shelton prolonged his keep in his Australian Open debut by defeating 113th-ranked Australian wild-card entry Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Paul, who’s ranked thirty fifth, topped Californian Jenson Brooksby by a rating of 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. Subsequent for Paul shall be both three-time main champion Andy Murray or 14th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut.
That is seen by most as a interval of transition in males’s tennis, an opportunity for brand new faces to make themselves recognized.
That No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev, a 25-year-old from Russia, and No. 9 seed Holger Rune, a 19-year-old from Denmark, would nonetheless be within the bracket, and are set as much as face one another for a quarterfinal berth on Monday, ought to come as a shock to nobody.
Nonetheless, neither has been previous the ultimate eight at any Grand Slam event. Nor has No. 22 Alex de Minaur, a 23-year-old from Australia, who superior Saturday and was awaiting the winner of 21-time Slam champion Novak Djokovic’s contest in opposition to three-time main semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov.
After early losses by excessive seeds comparable to No. 1 Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and proprietor of twenty-two main trophies (crushed by American Mackenzie McDonald); No. 2 Casper Ruud, twice a serious finalist final 12 months (crushed by Brooksby); and No. 7 Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champ and the runner-up at Melbourne Park every of the final two years (crushed by Korda), have on the very least made some newcomers really feel welcome within the latter levels.
Even when they don’t wish to discuss concerning the disruptions within the bracket.
“In fact, I do know what’s taking place,” stated Rune, who appeared to harm his ankle and wrist in a fall throughout a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (5) win in opposition to Ugo Humbert and pronounced himself OK afterward. “However primarily I simply deal with myself.”
Rublev sounded an identical notice following his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 25 Dan Evans.
“There have been some moments earlier than after I really feel there’s alternative to go to semis and even remaining perhaps and, in the long run, nothing occurred,” stated Rublev, who delivered 60 winners. “So this time, I simply do not wish to even attempt to consider alternative or one thing.”
An intriguing fourth-round matchup on the ladies’s aspect was established with No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka to tackle No. 12 Belinda Bencic. Sabalenka is now 7-0 in 2023 after beating Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3, and Bencic stretched her successful streak to eight matches by defeating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 7-5.
Additionally shifting into Week 2: No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia, two-time main finalist Karolina Pliskova, Zhang Shuai, Donna Vekic and 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova.
“It feels fairly surreal,” stated Fruhvirtova, who’s showing in simply her second main event and acquired previous 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in a match between a pair of gamers from the Czech Republic. “Yeah, it is an unimaginable feeling. I am simply so completely satisfied and excited, you already know, to have the ability to say, ‘Hello, second week!'”
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