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American men’s tennis in best position in over 27 years

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Tommy Paul is one of the future stars of American mens tennis
Tommy Paul of the U.S. reacts after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

American men’s tennis started out the 2023 calendar year on a high note with its best showing at the Australian Open in almost 20 years. It could just be a sign of things to come. 

After rankings were updated following the Australian Open, there are 10 American men in the ATP top 50 for the first time since 1995. Only one of the ranked Americans is over 25 years old, giving men’s tennis the first hope of having a legitimate title contender since Andy Roddick burst onto the scene. 

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Taylor Fritz remains the highest-ranked American man rising up to number eight despite an early exit at the Australian Open. U.S. Open hero Frances Tiafoe rises two spots to 15th overall, and Tommy Paul, also 25 years old like Fritz and Tiafoe, used his semi-final run at the Australian Open to vault to 19th in the rankings. 

Sebastian Korda rose to 26th after his quarter-final finish at the Australian Open, while fellow 22-year-old Jenson Brooksby used his upset of former world number two Casper Ruud to rise up to 38th in the world. 

The elder statesman, 38-year-old John Isner remains inside the top 50 at 42nd in the world, joined by 20-year-old rising star Ben Shelton, who rose 45 spots to 44th overall after his quarter-final run at the Australian Open. His fourth-round opponent, 24-year-old J.J. Wolf rises 19 spots to 48th overall while the top 50 is rounded out by Reilly Opelka, who fell nine spots after an early exit at the Australian Open, and 21-year-old Brandon Nakashima, who finished the top 50. 

“We’ve always had a constant cycle of really good, young talent with the [American] women players,” Patrick McEnroe says. “The men, we’re still waiting for one of those guys to really break through.” 

After the Australian Open, it seems that Fritz, Tiafoe, Korda, and Paul are the most likely Americans to break through for a major title in 2023, despite the fanfare around Ben Shelton. 

Tiafoe defeated Nadal to reach the semifinals of the US Open, and Korda, a former junior champion at the Australian Open, came within a point of defeating Novak Djokovic at the Adelaide International on January 8.

“The American players have pushed each other and helped each other to believe they can compete close to that level,” former player turned broadcaster John McEnroe said in an interview with Eurosport before the Australian Open began.

“If I had to pick one [to make a deep run], I’d probably pick Sebastian Korda; he’s the youngest of that current top group of Americans and the one with the most upside right now. Frances Tiafoe made some great improvements as well, Taylor Fritz is a phenomenally superior ball-striker, and is a legit top-10 player and a threat to make a deep run.”

Unfortunately, McEnroe was wrong about Fritz’s performance at the Australian Open, but hopefully not wrong about his potential overall. 

Many of these players will try to continue their 2023 run of success at the Dallas Open, which starts on Monday.

Taylor Fritz is the tournament’s number-one seed and receives a first-round bye, as does Frances Tiafoe, who is the number-two seed. Other Americans in the draw are Isner (5th seed), Wolf (6th seed), Marcus Giron (7th seed), plus Denis Kudla, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, and Michael Mmoh, who defeated 13th-ranked Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open before losing to Wolf in the third round. 

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For more tennis coverage, like this article on American men’s rankings, visit amNY Sports

Taylor Fritz competes for American men's tennis in the Davis Cup
Taylor Fritz competes for the United States in the Davis Cup (photo: USTA PR)

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