Australian Open 2014: Americans with the Best Chance of Reaching Week 2

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett@@merlisaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

Australian Open 2014: Americans with the Best Chance of Reaching Week 2

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    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.

Madison Keys

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    Born: Rock Island, Ill.

    Resides: Boca Raton, Fla.

    No longer the new kid on the block, Madison Keys entered the Aussie Open ranked No. 36. She survived a tough first-round match against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria, 6-2, 6-7 (8-10), 9-7. 

    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.

Alison Riske

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    Born: Pittsburgh

    Resides: Atlanta

    Alison Riske upset 23rd seed Elena Vesnina in straight sets.

    Riske, ranked No. 55, next takes on Yanina Wickmayer. With Petra Kvitova gone, the door is wide open for someone in this part of the draw. It might as well be Riske.

Sloane Stephens

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    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.

Sam Querrey

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    Born: San Francisco

    Resides: Las Vegas

    Samurai Sam Querrey dropped from his career-high ranking of No. 17 to No. 51. He needed four sets to move past Santiago Giraldo. If he can get by Gulbis, Querrey has a solid chance to reach the fourth round.

Serena Williams

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    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.