Australian Open 2011: Venus Williams and 10 Other Americans With a Shot
Tennis is not exactly something that the United States can boast about, despite the fact that Americans can claim dominance in a vast array of sports.
Andy Roddick is really the only elite tennis player on the men's side and the Williams sisters fill a similar role among the women.
In fact, the Americans are so weak at the Australian Open this year that I had to include some serious stretches and even some doubles teams among my list of Americans with a shot.
Part of the reason for this is the fact that Serena Williams is sidelined with a foot injury and has to sit out and watch her sister play at Melbourne Park.
Then, on the men's side, one of the better Americans has already gone down. Sam Querrey lost in the first round to unseeded Lukasz Kubot in five sets.
So without further ado, read on for the 10 Americans with a shot at the Australian Open title.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
The Bryans have won four of the last five Australian Open men's doubles titles, failing to secure the trophy only in 2008.
They are without a doubt the best in the field, as evidenced by the fact that they are seeded No. 1.
The left-handed Bob and right-handed Mike shouldn't have too much trouble sweeping through the early rounds. Then their hustle and attacking style should push them towards the title.
The Bryans are really the only Americans that should win a title. Others could though.
The world's No. 17 male tennis player is the 16th seed in this year's Australian Open.
Fish struggled in the first round, beating Victor Hanescu in five sets, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. He'll have to deal with both Andy Roddick and Roger Federer to advance out of his quarter.
The American has made it to the quarterfinals in Melbourne twice before, both in 2005 and 2009. He'd love to match that accomplishment in 2011.
John Isner is most famous for his lengthy match at Wimbledon, and while an Australian Open title wouldn't change that, it would be a great accomplishment.
Isner is currently the 20th ranked player in the world on the men's side and has the same seeding in this tournament.
He drew Florent Serra in the first round, but will have to get through Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.
Isner's best Australian Open finish came last year when he made it to that fourth round.
The first appearance on this list from the women's side belongs to Vania King.
King is the No. 88 player in the women's world and her best finish at the Australian Open came last year when she made it to the second round.
The 21 year old is quickly improving. She ousted Tamira Paszek in three sets, winning the second and third sets.
Unfortunately for her title hopes, she has to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the next match.
Even though she was born in Russia, Varvara Lepchenko is considered an American tennis player thanks to her gaining of American citizenship in 2007.
Her career high ranking is No. 74, but she's No. 76 right now and is unseeded in this year's draw.
She needs to beat Caroline Garcia in the first round to achieve a new career best finish in the Australian Open. The fact that she's one of the 10 Americans with the best shot at winning is a testament to the poor state of American tennis.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy
The United States' top representatives in the women's doubles field are Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy.
The doubles team is the ninth ranked team in the field and needs to beat Kirsten Flipkens and Mariya Koryttseva in the first round.
Somehow, Melanie Oudin went from an unknown player to the No. 64 ranking in a very short time. She's even been ranked as high as No. 31. This was largely due to the fact that Oudin made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in 2009.
The 19 year old is unseeded at the Australian Open and has a first round matchup with Klara Zakopalova. To get out of her quarter she'll have to upset Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur among others.
It's unlikely, but another magical run could be in store.
Andy Roddick has been to the semifinals of the Australian Open four times before, all in odd-numbered years.
That means that he should soon be able to add 2011 to his list of semifinals, which includes 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Roddick is ranked eighth in the world and has that same seed in this tournament. He easily won his first match against Jan Hajek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
All signs point towards a quarterfinal matchup with Roger Federer.
The biggest stretch on this list is 19 year old Coco Vandeweghe.
The young lady from New York has been ranked as high as 113th in the world and is obviously unseeded in this year's Australian Open.
She's played in the tournament just once before and failed to advance past the first round. This year, she'll play world No. 83 Alize Cornet in the opening round.
Venus Williams is currently No. 5 in the world, one spot behind her older sister.
Williams earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament and dominated her first round opponent, Sarra Errani, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
Now Williams will continue her pursuit of her first Australian Open title and eighth Grand Slam title by playing Sandra Zahlavova in the second round.