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Tennis Legend Tracy Austin Says ‘Numerous’ Americans Can Win a Grand Slam – NBC Los Angeles

American tennis is finally on the rise after hitting a hard decline for the past 20 years. 

The last time an American man won a Grand Slam was in 2003 when Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open. On the women’s side, we’ve been spoiled with Serena and Venus Williams winning a combined 30 majors, but besides the two legends, only two other Americans won Grand Slams in the past 20 years (Sloane Stephens, 2017 U.S. Open, and Sofia Kenin, 2020 Australian Open).

Let’s face it – having Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the top of the sport for years has made it difficult for other men to break through. But with the three greats nearing the end of their careers and dealing with injuries, some doors may open for the Americans. 

NBC spoke with American tennis legend Tracy Austin, who is feeling good about the direction American tennis is headed.

She said when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic competed in all the same tournaments, “there were so few players that got to win majors because those guys pretty much hoarded all the Grand Slams.”

“I’m feeling good about the men’s tennis, better than I’ve felt in years because I think there are a number of names that I can say might be able to win a major in the future,” she added.

Austin, a former world No. 1, was the youngest tennis player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and remains the youngest U.S. Open women’s singles champion, winning the major at age 16.

While the women’s competition has seen a variety of winners, the majority of those are ranked within the top 10.

“With tennis being so much more international and still just the top 100 really involved in the conversation of majors and the top 10, most likely going to win majors, it’s just spread out more and it’s tougher for the Americans to get in that conversation,” Austin said. 

The good news is that there are currently seven American men in the ATP top 50 and eight American women in the WTA top 50, with a handful making it deep into Grand Slam draws. 

With the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open right around the corner, let’s take a look at the top American players in American tennis:

Men:

Taylor Fritz (No. 14): The 24-year-old is currently the highest-ranked American in the world. His best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the fourth round in the Australian Open (2022), third round of the French Open (2020), third round of Wimbledon (2021) and third round of the U.S. Open (2018, 2020). He holds two career titles.

Riley Opelka (No. 18): The 24-year-old stands at 6-foot-11, with much of his game relying on his serve. His best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the third round of the Australian Open (2022), the third round of the French Open (2021), the third round of Wimbledon (2019) and the fourth round of the U.S. Open (2021). He has four career titles.

John Isner (No. 26): The 37-year-old is the most accomplished American on tour currently but hasn’t had much success in recent years. Isner is considered one of the best servers in the game, standing at 6-foot-10. His best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open (2010, 2016), the fourth round of the French Open (2014, 2016, 2018), the semifinals of Wimbledon (2018) and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open (2011, 2018). He has won 16 career titles and reached a career-high of No. 8 in 2018.

Frances Tiafoe (No. 27): The 24-year-old wears his heart on his sleeve out on the court competing. His best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (2019), the third round of Wimbledon (2018, 2021) and the fourth round of the U.S. Open (2020, 2021). He has one career title.

The rest of the best American men:

Sebastian Korda (No. 30)

Tommy Paul (No. 33)

Jenson Brooksby (No. 34)

Marcos Giron (No. 49)

Women:

Danielle Collins (No. 9): The 28-year-old is the highest-ranked American in both men’s and women’s tennis. Her best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the final of the Australian Open (2022), the quarterfinals of the French Open (2020), the third round of Wimbledon (2019) and the third round of the U.S. Open (2021). She has captured two career titles and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016.

Jessica Pegula (No. 11): The 28-year-old is steadily climbing the WTA rankings. Her best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (2021, 2022), the third round of the French Open (2021), the second round of Wimbledon (2021) and the third round of the U.S. Open (2020, 2021). She has won one career title. An interesting fact about Pegula is that her parents, Terry and Kim Pegula, are the owners of the Buffalo Bills.

Coco Gauff (No. 18): The 18-year-old has been dominant in both singles and doubles in her young professional career. Her best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open (2020), the quarterfinals of the French Open (2021), the fourth round of Wimbledon (2019, 2021) and the third round of the U.S. Open (2019). Ranked No. 10 in doubles, Gauff’s best Grand Slam doubles results include reaching the quarterfinal of the Australian Open (2020, 2021), the third round of the French Open (2020), the third round of Wimbledon (2021) and the final of the U.S. Open (2021). She has four career titles in doubles and predominantly plays with fellow American Caty McNally. 

Madison Keys (No. 23): The 27-year-old is a powerhouse who is hard to beat when she’s feeling her serve and groundstrokes. As the most accomplished female American in the top 25, Keys’ best Grand Slam singles results include reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open (2015, 2022), the semifinals of the French Open (2018), the quarterfinals of Wimbledon (2015) and the finals of the U.S. Open (2017). She has claimed six career titles and reached a career-high of No. 7 in 2016.

The rest of the best American women:

Amanda Anisimova (No. 28)

Alison Riske (No. 42)

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