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Fritz and Cressy join four American women in second week of Australian Open

Taylor Fritz of the USA reacts after beating Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain during their third round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 22 January 2022. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

By Ricky Dimon

Going into the fourth round of the Australian Open, the United States has the most players still alive in the men’s and women’s singles draws. For the men, it’s Taylor Fritz and Maxime Cressy. The American charge in the women’s draw is being led by Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins, Amanda Anisimova.

It’s nothing new for the women. But since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open back in 2003 (and is still the last American man to win a Grand Slam), appearances in week two of slams for Team USA in the men’s draws have been few and far between — especially over the past decade. There have even been too many times when no American man even makes it past the second round.

Fritz and Cressy had other ideas Down Under in 2022.

Following straight-set wins over Maximilian Marterer and Frances Tiafoe, Fritz earned a spot in round four of a major for the first time in his career by surviving a roller-coaster ride with Roberto Bautista Agut 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday afternoon. The 24-year-old had previously been 0-6 lifetime in the third rounds at slams.

“It’s huge,” Fritz assured. “It seems stupid, like after that match I was almost close to tearing up a bit. So many people have made the second week of slams, but it’s just eluded me for so long…. It means a ton. I’m proud. It didn’t come easy. I beat an incredibly tough guy.

“I never doubted it would happen, but I definitely was getting sick of playing top four players for the opportunity every time. I have had a lot of tough matches, honestly a lot of tough draws, never gotten a great look at it. I served for the match in one of them, and then one of the other more winnable ones my opponent just played amazing — was way too good.”

While it was a long time coming for Fritz, this kind of success has arrived a lot earlier than expected for Cressy. Although the Paris native is also 24 years old, he has been a professional for a much shorter period of time because he played college tennis at UCLA.

Maxime Cressy of the USA in action against Christopher O’Connell of Australia during their third round match of the Australian Open. EPA-EFE/JOEL CARRETT

Cressy’s transition to the pro tour has been beyond impressive. He is already up to No. 70 in the world and is sure to climb higher — and soon. The serve-and-volleyer leads the tour with nine match victories in 2022, including a runner-up performance at a 250 event in Melbourne (lost to Rafael Nadal) and now four more wins at the Aussie Open. He joined Fritz in the last 16 by beating Christopher O’Connell 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.

“I had many doubts, of course,” said Cressy, who did not even make the singles lineup his freshman year at UCLA. “But the most important thing is that I kept going and stayed determined. Now the doubts are completely gone.”

They were never there for Fritz. They have never been there for the American women, either. And this year’s Australian Open performance should inspire confidence in other compatriots, too.

The American men are coming — finally. They have left the women alone at the business end of slams for far too long.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.