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Seven Americans qualify for Australian Open main draw

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Frances Tiafoe of USA plays a backhand in his 2017 Australian Open Qualifying match against Tim Smyczek of USA at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
January 15, 2017 10:59 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Team USA will have a tournament-best 32 players in the main draw of the Australian Open when play begins Monday (Sunday night in the U.S.) after seven Americans advanced through the qualifying tournament.

Third-round qualifying wins from Frances Tiafoe, Bjorn Fratangelo, Ernesto Escobedo, Noah Rubin and Reilly Opelka give the U.S. 14 men in the first round. And Jennifer Brady and Julia Boserup came through the women’s qualifying draw to make it 18 American women among the 128-player field.

Tiafoe, the No. 2 seed in the qualifying tournament, rallied from a set down to beat fellow American Tim Smyczek, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, and Fratangelo and Escobedo were each forced to go the distance after dropping the first set to Japan’s Hiroki Moriya and India's Yuki Bhambri, respectively.

In the bottom half of the men’s qualifying draw, Rubin was a straight-sets winner over Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, 6-2, 6-4, and Opelka toppled Norway’s Casper Ruud, 7-6, 6-3.

In the women’s draw, Brady beat fellow American Taylor Townsend, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, to punch her ticket into the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time in two-and-a-half years and Boserup routed Australia’s Olivia Rogowska, 6-2, 6-1.

For Tiafoe (pictured above), Escobedo, Opelka, Brady and Boserup, wins in the final round of qualifying secure a place in the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time. Fratangelo and Rubin each played in the main draw last year, with wild card Rubin shocking No. 17 seed Benoit Paire in the first round.

Fratangelo and New York teenager Rubin will now play each other in the first round, with the winner likely meeting former world No. 1 and 17-time major winner Roger Federer in Round 2. Escobedo will face Daniil Medvedev of Russia, Opelka meets 11th-seeded Belgian David Goffin and Tiafoe squares off against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

Among the women, Brady will play Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in the first round and Boserup will face former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone for a spot in the round of 64.

In total, 20 Americans are in action on Day 1, including Venus Williams, Jack Sock and John Isner.