American #NextGenATP Stars Soar Into Australian Open Main Draw
Tiafoe, Escobedo, Rubin, Opelka among the qualifiers
A slew of American #NextGenATP stars have successfully advanced into the main draw of the Australian Open, with Frances Tiafoe, Noah Rubin, Reilly Opelka and Ernesto Escobedo taking their spot among the 16 final-round qualifying winners on Saturday.
Second seed Tiafoe survived a marathon 3-6, 6-0, 7-5 match against fellow American Tim Smyczek. Both players held serve throughout the final set until Tiafoe finally broke Smyczek in the last game to wrap up the win. This is the first time that the 18-year-old has come through qualifying at a Grand Slam.
In an all-teen battle, Opelka came through 7-6(4) 6-3 against Norwegian Casper Ruud to secure his first Grand Slam main draw appearance. The American reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final last August in Atlanta and has jumped over 600 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings over the past six months.
No. 21 seed Escobedo rallied from a set down to defeat Yuki Bhambri of India, 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4, while Rubin scored an emphatic 6-2, 6-4 win over Evgeny Donskoy of Russia. This is the first time that both Escobedo and Rubin have qualified for a Grand Slam.
Other players to prevail on Saturday include #NextGenATP star Andrey Rublev of Russia, and former Top 10 players Radek Stepanek and Jurgen Melzer. Stepanek was the top seed in qualifying.