Americans JJ Wolfe and Tommy Paul in the fourth round of the Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – It’s been nearly two full decades since this many American men made it to week two at the Australian Open.

And while in 2004 that group included two Grand Slam champions Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, it’s all fresh for the quartet there this time around: Tommy Ball, 25; JJ Wolf, 24; Sebastian Korda, 22; And Ben Chilton, 20, is about to make his debut in the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

It should look very much like an opportunity for a decisive outcome for them and other young people still in their age group.

“I didn’t think about it much, honestly, because I only have a one-game-at-a-time mentality, but I think it’s hard for anyone to get past that. There were a lot of annoyances,” said the 67th-ranked Wolf, who played college tennis at Ohio State, after Eliminated lucky loser Michael Memouh 6-4 6-1 6-2 in an All-American match on Saturday. “But disruptions happen for a reason. A lot of people here are good. It’s a real opportunity.”

Wolf then plays another American, 89th-ranked Shelton, who won the NCAA title for the University of Florida last year and then turned pro. Using his passport to travel outside the United States for the first time in his life, Shilton extended his stay in his Australian Open debut by defeating 113th-ranked Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4 .

Paul, the 35th seed, held off California No. 1 Jenson Broxby with a score of 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. Next up for Paul will be 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who ended the grueling run of Andy Murray by defeating the three-time major champion 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4.

That result, the last of the third round, made Novak Djokovic the only player out of the remaining 16 players to have won a Grand Slam title. Not only that, but the other 15 have been in one major final – third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final.

Most people see this as a transitional period in men’s tennis, and a chance for new faces to make themselves known.

That No. 5 seed Andrei Rublev, 25, of Russia, and No. 9 seed Holger Rohn, 19, of Denmark, will remain in the category and are set to face each other for a quarter-final berth on Monday should come as no surprise to anyone. .

However, neither of them has gone beyond the quarter-finals in any Grand Slam tournament. Nor was No. 22 Alex de Minaur, the 23-year-old from Australia, who took the lead on Saturday and now receives the unenviable task of meeting 21-time Slam champion Djokovic. Nine of those titles have come at Melbourne Park, and Djokovic has now won 24 consecutive matches there after leading No. 27 Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-4 on the night despite some signs of trouble from his left. hamstrings

“It always starts out really well in the last few games, including this one, then some movement happens and then it gets worse,” said Djokovic, whose leg was massaged by a coach during some changes on Saturday. “Yeah, the pills start. Some hot cream and stuff. This works for a little bit, then doesn’t work, then works again. It’s really a roller coaster, honestly.”

Djokovic said in front of the Rod Laver Arena crowd: “I don’t know how many of you will be by my side. I don’t think very many.”

After early losses by high seeds such as top seed Rafael Nadal, defending champion and 22-time Grand Slam holder (beaten by American Mackenzie McDonald); No. 2 Casper Rudd, a two-time finalist last year (beaten by Broxby); And number 7 Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion and runner-up at Melbourne Park both of the past two years (Korda beat him), at least made some newcomers feel welcome in the closing stages.

Even if they don’t want to talk about Sagittarius’ troubles.

“Of course, I know what’s going on,” said Ron, who appeared to hurt his ankle and wrist after falling during a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) win over Ugo Humbert and declared it OK afterwards. “But I only focus on myself.”

Rublev sounded a similar note after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 25 Dan Evans.

“There were some moments when I felt there was a chance to go to the semi-finals or even the final, and in the end, nothing happened,” said Rublev, who presented 60 winners. “So this time, I don’t even want to try to even think of an opportunity or something.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Leave a Comment