It’s been a while since this many Americans have advanced this far into a major. Eight Americans have now made it into the final 32.
That doesn’t even include the highest-ranking American 8th seed Taylor Fritz who lost in five sets to Alexei Popyrin. Many of these Americans have taken out top seeds including #1 Nadal, #2 Ruud, and #12 Zverev. The younger players like Brooksby, Korda, and Shelton especially seem to hold a lot of promise. This could be the generation along with Fritz and Tiafoe to bring back American Tennis to a place it can legitimately content for majors in a few years. With this showing on foreign soil, the roster has really grown in depth as well with all but one under 25. It’s been a long time since I have been excited about USA Tennis after many years in the wilderness. We chronicled this fall from grace not long ago here.
It’s nice to have positive developments to report. Let’s take a look at each individually.
McDonald, a former NCAA singles champion at UCLA, was climbing the rankings when he suffered a serious hamstring injury at the 2019 French Open. Since then, he has achieved some nice results, but none as noteworthy as his victory over top seed Rafael Nadal in this tournament’s second round. McDonald was superb tactically and with his execution in the opening two sets until Nadal’s hip ailment became a significant concern.
Tiafoe has significantly improved his career over the past few years since hiring seasoned pro Wayne Ferreira as coach and treating his game more seriously. The College Park, Maryland kid is still a showman on the court, but he uses his enormous weapons more consistently and with discipline, which has helped him climb the rankings. He is entering his prime years with the conviction that he can win a Slam following his breakout performance at the U.S. Open last year.
The end of 2022 saw Korda finally string together successful performances after a bit of a sophomore slump. He reached the finals of tournaments in Gijon and Antwerp, and he followed that up with a razor-thin defeat to Novak Djokovic in the final of a warm-up event a few weeks ago. When he reaches his peak, Petr Korda’s son, who won the Australian Open in 1998, should be a serious contender for Slam titles because to his fluid movement and solid technical ability.
Wolf, who won the Big Ten Player of the Year award at Ohio State and became professional in 2019, has spent a lot of time honing his game on the Challenger Tour. Wolf, though, started to appear more frequently on the main tour last year and began recording some stunning victories over players ranked in the top 30, including Lorenzo Sonego, Denis Shapovalov, and Roberto Bautista Agut. He eventually reached his first ATP final in Florence in October. In the second round, he defeated No. 23 seed Diego Schwartzman with ease.
Before Mmoh started to post some strong Challenger Tour performances last fall, winning a few titles and making another final, it was uncertain where his career was going. Mmoh just qualified for the Australian Open because David Goffin withdrew due to an injury at the last minute, but he took advantage of the chance and defeated No. 12 seed Alexander Zverev, who is still getting back into shape after suffering a serious ankle injury.
Paul is extremely athletic, and his style of play is perfect for fast-paced courts like those in Australia. Paul hasn’t achieved a career-defining victory that would make tennis fans take notice of him, despite having racked up multiple stunning wins of top-10 caliber. It’s a little unexpected that Paul just has one ATP title, which he won in Stockholm in 2021. Paul arrived here after defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a grueling five-set match.
Brooksby made his debut in 2021 as a disruptor with an unconventional counter punching style, but he struggled to advance last year, losing 11 of his 22 tournament matches in the first round (he also made a pair of finals in Atlanta and Dallas). However, Brooksby’s annoying style appears to have returned as he defeated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud in the second round in four sets.