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Six American Men to Watch at the 2022 U.S. Open

Taylor Fritz looks poised for a potential run, but who else could make some noise in New York?

An American man hasn’t won the U.S. Open since 2003 when Andy Roddick captured his sole Grand Slam title of his career. It’s also been 16 years since an American man has reached the tournament’s final, when Roddick fell to Roger Federer.

At Wimbledon in July, eight American men advanced to the third round—the most since the 1996 U.S. Open—making up 25% of the remaining field.

And as the first round of the tournament begins Monday, 20 American men will look to make their mark at the year’s final Grand Slam.

American men dominated tennis in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, when players like Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi captured dozens of titles.

But, since the men’s Big Four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray took over as the the sport’s global kings in the last two decades, American men have fallen down the rankings and disappeared from Grand Slam finals.

Could 2022 be the year in which an American man adds his name to the history books for the first time in nearly 20 years?

With Wimbledon winner Djokovic out of the draw due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19, and ATP No. 2 Alexander Zverev not playing due to injury, the Americans will have two fewer giants to take down. It’s important to note that Federer will also not be playing, but reigning champion (and ATP No. 1) Daniil Medvedev takes the No. 1 seed at this year’s tournament.

Let’s break down which American players to look out for at this year’s Grand Slam tournament.

Taylor Fritz reacts to a point during his match against Andrey Rublev at the Western and Southern Open.

Fritz will look to build on what’s been a largely successful season.

Taylor Fritz: The 24-year-old is having arguably his best year of his career thus far. He’s consistently been ranked in the top 25 all year, including hitting his career-high ranking at 12 over the last month that leaves him as the highest-ranked American man. At the U.S. Open, he sits as the No. 10 seed.

The young American has already captured two titles this year, first at Indian Wells back in March and second at the Wimbledon tune-up Eastbourne in June. He beat the legendary Nadal in his title charge at Indian Wells, ending the Spaniard’s 20-match winning streak.

Following his Eastbourne title, Fritz went on to play in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, his deepest run at a Grand Slam. He faced Nadal in the quarterfinals, but he fell short in over four-hour thriller that Nadal won in a fifth-set tiebreak.

If any American man were to advance far in this year’s U.S. Open, Fritz has the best odds to be the one. At the Western & Southern Open this month, the 24-year-old beat Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios and No. 6 player Andrey Rublev before losing to No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals.

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Frances Tiafoe: Another 24-year-old enters this year’s U.S. Open with one of his career-best rankings to date at No. 24. 

One of Tiafoe’s biggest kryptonite’s this season is facing other Americans. He’s competed against 11 fellow countrymen so far this calendar year and posted just a 6–5 record, with all six wins coming over players ranked outside of the top 50. He lost to Fritz twice and fell to John Isner, Jenson Brooksby and Tommy Paul.

Although Tiafoe hasn’t quite shown the consistent giant-killing ability that Fritz has, he does 7 wins vs. top 10 players in his career in 34 matches.

His most notable Grand Slam performance came at Wimbledon in 2021 when he upset No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round, and in terms of his history at the U.S. Open, Tiafoe is coming off of two back-to-back Round of 16 finishes at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Reilly Opelka: The 24-year-old Michigan native is also having one of his best seasons to date. Like Fritz, he’s captured two titles this year, first back in Dallas, beating Brooksby, then in Houston, beating Isner.

Like Tiafoe, Opelka is 0–2 vs. top 10 players this year, although he holds seven wins against top 10 players in his career.

The No. 28-ranked player had his best career Grand Slam finish at last year’s U.S. Open, making it to the Round of 16.

John Isner: One of the most prominent names in American men’s tennis in the last decade and a half, Isner is known for his height, electric serves and top performance in close matches.

With 16 titles to his name, the 37-year-old isn’t having his best year by any means. However, he remains a potential threat to make a run in any tournament .

He performs his best at the U.S. Open (67% win percentage) but has only reached the quarterfinals twice (2011, ‘18).

With a No. 50 international ranking, it might not be Isner’s year to reach his first Grand Slam final, but never count the 6’10” veteran out.

Ben Shelton: This 19-year-old will be playing in his first official U.S. Open after he turned professional less than a week before the tournament kicks off. A two-time NCAA champion at Florida, Shelton definitely has experience playing in high-stakes matches, but this will be his first tournament on the biggest stage.

Shelton is coming off of a win over world No. 5 Casper Ruud at the Western & Southern Open last week. Keep an eye out for Shelton, as he faces world No. 105 Nuno Borges in the first round.

Other Americans to watch:

  • No. 29 Tommy Paul has yet to advance past the first round in his U.S. Open experience.
  • No. 30 Maxime Cressy lost in the Round of 64 last year.
  • Boris Kozlov faces No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the first round.
  • Jeff Wolf takes on No. 16 Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round.
  • Denis Kudla will play No. 27 Karen Khachanov in the first round.
  • Learner Tien will face No. 32 Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
  • Jack Sock is a veteran, reaching the fourth round in 2016. He also has a U.S. Open doubles title from 2018.
  • Jenson Brooksby made it to the fourth round of last year’s U.S. Open.
  • Brandon Nakashima reached a career-high rank of No. 49 earlier this year.
  • Mackenzie McDonald is a veteran with Grand Slam experience
  • Sam Querrey reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in 2017.
  • Steve Johnson has played in every U.S. Open since 2011, making it to the third round in ‘12.
  • Sebastian Korda has yet to make it past the first round in his U.S. Open experience.
  • Marcos Giron will face Tiafoe in the first round.
  • Emilio Nava played in his first U.S. Open last year.

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