Can An American Net The Season-Opening Major?

American aces such as teenage sensation Coco Gauff will be aiming to finally win a grand slam this year, and she gets into the swing of things at the Australian Open in January.

Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz, the respective world no.1s, will be vying to take the new year’s opening major. Poland’s three-time grand slam champion Swiatek and Spanish teenager Alcaraz, who scooped the 2022 US Open, are among the favourites to start the season with a trophy.

Yet the Americans are ready to pounce and spoil the party Down Under (16-29 January). Their set of five ladies in the world’s top 25 appear to have a shot at scooping the big prize.

New Yorker Jessica Pegula (world no.3), Gauff (no.7), the former US Open finalist Madison Keys (no.11), Florida’s Danielle Collins (no.14) and Russian-American ex-French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova (no.24) are flying the flag for the United States.

Pegula has yet to get further than the quarter-final in her slam appearances, Collins finished 2022 Australian Open runner-up to the now retired Aussies Ashleigh Barty but all eyes are focused on whether Gauff can triumph.

The Florida-based ace originally burst onto the scene at 2019 Wimbledon as a 15-year-old qualifier, to stun US icon Venus Williams on Centre Court at the All England Club.

Despite the early promise from ex-junior world no.1 Gauff, she finally cracked the world’s top 10 rankings after reaching the US Open quarter-finals last September.

The 18-year-old is expected to take her overall game and tactics up a notch having just experienced her best season on the WTA Tour.

Although the potential women’s singles champion sees Swiatek the overwhelming favourite, there are others on the circuit who could bounce back from the short break to cause a surprise.

Swiatek’s demolition job during last season makes her an attractive player to back even at low odds of +3.00. Her dismantling of Tunisia’s Ons Jabuer in the 2022 US Open final elevated her to easily the best player on the WTA Tour.

With Barty having left the circuit, the Pole’s path to 2023’s first major  appears a simplistic task yet there some amazing opponents who are set to continue their hot streaks such as Jabeur, Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Romanian Simona Halep, Wimbledon winner Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina, France’s WTA Tour Finals champion Caroline Garcia and tenacious teenager Gauff.

US men are lagging behind their female counterparts in making inroads towards the prestigious no.1 ranking. However, American men are in the mix once more at slams.

Having dominated the sport for decades, the summer of 2021 signalled the US men’s flagging fortunes when not a single American was among the world’s top 30 on the ATP Tour.

This year Taylor Fritz, the world no.9, leads the Americans in with a chance of reaching the second week. The Californian’s best run at the Australian Open was reaching the 2022 quarter-finals.

Maryland’s Frances Tiafoe (world no.19) shows promise, and will be aiming to improve on his run to the 2022 US Open semi-finals. The other only US representatives within the top 40 are New Jersey’s Tommy Paul (no.32), former junior Australian Open champion Sebastian Korda (no.33) and Paris-born French American ace Maxime Cressy (no.34).

There’s no bigger name in men’s tennis than veteran ace Novak Djokovic, who holds a record nine Australian Open titles and is the only man to ever hold all four majors at once.

The Serbian star continues to shine in his mid-thirties. The sportsbooks have him down as a +1.00 shot to capture the crown after being given the green light to play as Australia lifted his three-year ban on entering the country. That was imposed when he was deported in January 2022, because of his failure to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

He’s virtually unbeatable Down Under, and will be determined to show the crowds in Melbourne what they missed last with another set of explosive displays anticipated.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal lags behind Alcaraz and Russian ex-world no.1 Daniil Medvedev in the stakes, with odds ever changing on the new betting sites in Australia for the year-opening slam of the year.

Alcaraz bowed out of the 2022 Australian Open in the third round, when world-ranked no.32. Fast forward a year and he is surely a force to be reckoned with.

Following his swashbuckling success at the US Open, he is now brimming with relentless energy, full of finesse plus possesses a power game that suits fast courts.

Medvedev knows what to do Down Under, having learned the hard way after squandering a two-set lead over Nadal to settle for the runner-up spot at the 2022 Australian Open.

Nadal picked up two majors in 2022 and no longer has Roger Federer as a rival, after the Swiss maestro retired last term.

Other contenders for the Australian Open 2023 title include controversial Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, Aussie Nick Kyrgios, Danish teenager Holger Rune, Norway’s Casper Ruud, Italian Yannik Sinner, American Tiafoe and the dynamic Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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