Australian Open 2014: Americans with the Best Chance of Reaching Week 2
Thirty-nine Americans, including those in qualifying rounds, entered the Australian Open. After qualifiers, the number had dropped to 24. Only 19 remained after the first day of matches. By the time you read this it could be down to 15.
How many will still be around the second week? That depends on talent, nerve and the luck of the draw.
Venus Williams entered the Australian Open looking strong. She reached the final in Auckland, where she lost a tightly contested three-setter to Ana Ivanovic. However, Williams drew Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. Makarova, seeded No. 22, defeated Williams.
John Isner, the highest-ranked American male, retired in his first-round match against Martin Klizan. That leaves unranked Sam Querrey as the best hope. Querrey has to get past No. 23 Ernests Gulbis in the second round. Realistically, it will take a few miracles to get an American man into the second week.
Anything can happen. But a handful of American women have the best chance of reaching Week 2.
Born: Rock Island, Ill.
Resides: Boca Raton, Fla.
Keys, 18, is also entered in doubles with fellow American Alison Riske. The two are playing well, and both have the opportunity to make it to Week 2.
Born: Plantation, Fla.
Resides: Coral Springs, Fla.
Sloane Stephens' game comes to life on the hard courts. However, she hasn't completed a match this season. She withdrew from the Hopman Cup. She also withdrew from the Sydney International tournament.
If she can stay healthy, there's no reason the No. 13-ranked Stephens couldn't make it into next week.
Born: Saginaw, Mich.
Resides: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
If Serena Williams doesn't make it into the second week, it will be a shocker. Williams is one Grand Slam trophy away from tying Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert for most Slams (18) won by an American.
At this stage in Williams' career, it's all or nothing. Anything short of hoisting the trophy will be considered a disappointment.