June 13, 2024

Open Court


MELBOURNE, Australia – There were 23 Americans in the Australian Open qualifying draws.

Twelve were on the women’s side, and 11 on the men’s side.

By the end of the even on Friday, only four made it all the way through to the main draw.

Three men – and only No. 23 seed Varvara Lepchenko on the women’s side. 

There certainly were few overwhelming favorites. In fact, there wasn’t a single American among the top 15 seeds in either draw.

The top American seed was No. 16 Jennifer Brady, who lost in the final round to lefty Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.


Grand Slam debut for Eubanks

Among the men who qualified was Christopher Eubanks, who will be making his Grand Slam main-draw debut.

The 22-year-old, at NO. 171 just five off his career best, had a bit of good fortune in the second round when he came up against 18-year-old Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime had been dealing with a knee issue, the product of yet another little growth spurt in the last few months.

The Canadian won 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round of qualifying at the US Open last August. On Thursday, Eubanks played brilliantly in dispatching Auger-Aliassime by nearly the same score – 76 (4), 6-3.

He then had to get by Pedro Martinez, a 21-year-old from Spain who plays a lot more on clay than he does on hard court. And he did, in straight sets.


Mitchell Krueger was one of the last to qualify Friday, which he did with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over Marco Trungelliti of Italy. All of Kruegers’ victories were three-set grinds.

The final qualifier was 24-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, who came back from a set down in his last two matches and pulled out deciding tiebreaks in both.

Fratangelo has now qualified three of the four times he’s come to the Australian Open. His next move will be to win a main-draw match.

Here are the matchups:

Lepchenko:  [Q] Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)

Eubanks: [19] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)

Frantangelo: [29] Gilles Simon (FRA)

Krueger: [1] Novak Djokovic

Lepchenko squeezes though

Lepchenko, 32, has been in the top 20 in her career, back in 2012.

But she’s fallen on tougher times, and is currently ranked No. 134 after ending the 2017 season at No. 62.

She has played the Australian Open 12 times before. And only once since 2010 had she had to play the qualifying (2012). She made the third round in both 2015 and 2016.

She barely made it. Lepchenko needed a deciding match tiebreak to get past countrywoman Christina Mchale, after Mchale served for match in the third set.

In the first round against young Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova, she had to do he same thing.

Here’s the difference between a first round and a final round.


Other Americans struggle

Here’s a gallery of some of the other Americans who played this week.

Of note was J.C. Aragone, who squeezed in as an alternate with his current career-high ranking of No. 253.


It was the first time in his career that the Argentina-born Aragone had made even the qualifying at a major on his own ranking; his college success at the University of Virginia got him wild cards into the US Open qualifying the last two years, where he qualified in 2018 after beating now No. 17 Marco Cecchinato in the first round.

Women’s gallery

You had to feel for Christina Mchale, who served for the match against fellow American Varvara Lepchenko but ended up losing a deciding tiebreaker. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Seeded No. 19, Caroline Dolehide defeated the returning Canadian Rebecca Marino in the first round, but lost to countrywoman Danielle Leo in three sets in the second round (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Ranked No. 26 less than two years ago, Davis is now at No. 157. This was the first time she had to play qualifying, after seven years straight into the main draw. She reached the third round a year ago – notably losing 15-13 to Simona Halep – as well as in 2016 (lost to Sharapova) and 2014 (lost to eventual semifinalist Genie Bouchard). This year, she was beaten by Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first round of the qualies. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Asia Muhammad lost in the second round to Ivana Jorovic of Serbia. She had lost in the first round of qualifying the previous two years. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Kristie Ahn lost in the second round to Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Allie Kiick lost to No. 11 seed Lin Zhu in the second round. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Jamie Loeb made it to the final round, where she was defeated by Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Seeded No. 18, Nicole Gibbs got to the final round, but lost 6-3, 7-6 to No. 3 seed Viktorija Golubic. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Men’s gallery

Smyczek was a set up against France’s Gleb Sakharov in the final round, but lost in three to the 30-year-old, ranked No. 250, who will make his career Grand Slam main draw debut. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Tommy Paul was one withdrawal away from having Jack Sock make the main draw on his own ranking, and thus taking the USTA reciprocal wild card into the main draw. But he had to do it the hard way; Paul lost in the second round, in three sets, to veteran Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
At No. 232, Donald Young is nearly 200 spots below his career-high ranking and didn’t squeeze into the qualifying by much. He lost in the first round to … Enrique Lopez-Perez of Spain 5-7, 6-1, 6-2. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
Christian Harrison had family coaching support from big brother Ryan. But it wasn’t enough as he went down 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to Adrian Menendez-Maceiras in the first round. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
With girlfriend Madison Keys a consistent, supportive presence, No. 24 seed Bjorn Fratangelo pulled off comeback wins against Stefano Napolitano and Ze Zhang in the final two rounds to make the main draw in Oz for the third time. He had great first-round draws the first two times – but couldn’t convert. Will the third time be the charm? (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

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