MELBOURNE, Australia — Maybe one day, and sooner rather than later, American men swimming in the deep end of the pool at Grand Slam tennis events will stop being noteworthy.
This was the way it was in the beginning 40 years of modern tennis. It all started back in 1968. During that era, some combination of players from the United States — Ashe, Smith, Connors, McEnroe, Agassi, Chang, Sampras, Courier, Roddick — almost always lurked, or even played each other, in the final days of the biggest tournaments.
Those were the days that feel long gone. They ended with the fall of Iron Curtain and the spreading of wealth to Eastern Europe. There was also a waning of access to the sport, which had been dominated by the United States of America, Australia, Britain and France.
If Ben Shelton And Tommy Paul Square off in the quarterfinals Australian Open It will take place on Wednesday, Tuesday night in America. This is the first meeting of two Americans in Grand Slam events since Andy Roddick’s 2007 appearance at Mardy Fish in Melbourne.
The United States will be the first to enter the competition if one of their teams wins. Australian Open Roddick was the 2009 semifinalist. Sebastian Korda (third American quarterfinalist) was injured in his wrist and retired. Korda would have been able to make it two American Grand Slam semifinalists, for the first-time since 2005.
And yet, since early last summer, American men’s tennis has been having a moment that had been promised ever since the United States Tennis Association realized it had a serious problem on its hands some 15 years ago. The U.S.TA. had in mind when it started a development academy in 2008. This is what the U.S.T.A. had in mind when they started a training academy for development in 2008.
Since then the program has evolved to place more emphasis on camps for young promising players than sending them away as teenagers. The goal was always to create a core group of talented players who can compete at major tournaments. The American women led by Serena Williams and Venus Williams could do it. Men are not as lucky. The results started to appear last summer.
The 2023 Australian Open
The year’s first Grand Slam event runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 29 in Melbourne.
“This is what we’ve been working for,” Martin Blackman was the U.S.T.A.’s general manager for player growth as he sat across the Centre Court of Wimbledon in July.
Four American men reached the 16th round. Rafael Nadal defeated Taylor Fritz in a tiebreaker for fifth set in the quarterfinals. The U.S. Open was two months later. OpenFrances Tiafoe was a celebrity after losing to Carlos Alcaraz (the eventual champion, and the No. 1 in the world) in the semi-finals. 1.
These tournaments were slightly different, however.
Wimbledon had barred Russians and Belarusians from participating because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That took three dangerous opponents — Daniill Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Khachanov — out of the draw.
2022 U.S. OpenTiafoe made it into the fourth round as the American only player. But his victory over Nadal and near-upset of Alcaraz, combined with Fritz’s title at Indian Wells, Calif., in March, produced a new level of confidence among a collection of players 25 and younger, several of whom have been traveling, training and playing together since their early teenage years.
“We expect to do well,” Paul, 25, said last week in an interview on a sun-splashed terrace in Melbourne as he watched another promising young American, Jenson Brooksby, beat Norway’s Casper Ruud, the second seed and a finalist at the French and U.S. This year’s Opens. “We probably expect to have at least a few of us in the second week. That’s our goal, and I know some of us want to go deeper.”
He was also responsible for serving what ended up being notice in that afternoon.
“We got Ben Shelton coming,” He spoke highly of the N.C.A.A.A. 20-year old champion champion.
Paul Since then, he has been taking the young player under his wings. Shelton In the middle of last calendar year, he became a professional.
“Kind of helped me navigate some of the early stages of a professional career,” Shelton It was said that Paul On Monday evening, after winning the fourth-round against J.J. Wolf (24), “He’s been a good friend.”
They are a good friend, but not an enemy. The two of them have only hit once. They were warming up in Ohio last summer. Paul’s plan ahead of the quarterfinal was to watch videos of Shelton’s matches. You will find a lefty dangerous enough to be fearless, and with a powerful serve, as well as a rapidly improving power game at the baseline.
Shelton He is continuing to take classes at University of Florida, and is eager to finish his degree. His semester was just beginning, and he said it wasn’t difficult to manage school work while preparing for matches.
Shelton He also enjoyed the luck of winning a draw. At the time of this tournament, he was ranked at 89th place in the world. He has never faced a seeded competitor. He has faced opponents who are lower in ranking. One of his opponents was ranked lower than him. One more survived the qualifier tournament.
PaulThe 35th-ranked runner reached the top of the rankings at 29th place in the world last. He was awarded the French Cup. Open boys’ singles title in 2015. Since then, though, he and his close friends and countrymen — Tiafoe, Fritz and Reilly Opelka — have watched players they beat as juniors achieve more than they have. However, he was certain he would make it to the final stages of Grand Slam events, even though he admitted that some had doubted his abilities.
He was born in New Jersey, and grew up in North Carolina. There he played on the clay courts of Greenville, N.C. Paul All-court player who is quick with his feet. Also, he has an impressive serve which reached 137 miles per hours during his win against Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain in the fourth round. His racket makes the ball sound like wood popping into a campfire.
His movements are languid between points and in service motion. Once he has reached the point, it is time to move on. Paul All grit, touch, and force. However, he can also bang and scramble as long the point demands.
He has displayed a strange display of calm lately that shows no signs of internal tension. It’s the aspect of his game that he has worked on the hardest over the past 18 months.
“That’s the hard part of playing tennis, right?” He said. “You got to keep calm.”
Grand Slam events, which include many physical and mental peaks as well as valleys and valleys that are five sets long, have this effect. Shelton, whose father, Bryan, played on the ATP Tour in the 1990s and now coaches both his son and the men’s team at Florida, has endured some early lessons in that. His matches went on to win in two of the four. One match ended in a tiebreaker.
To Paul And SheltonIt may seem too difficult to do Tiafoe a favor and become the first American male to reach a Grand Slam final since Roger Federer lost at Wimbledon 2009. Novak Djokovic is the likely semifinal opponent. Australian Open Champion with 21 Grand Slam titles, who continues to improve as the tournament progresses.
Paul That would be a great opportunity. His country also has been patiently waiting for this moment.