Will the Americans go into the top 5?

Taylor Fritz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

We can talk about Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal and then we will find out who has more Grand Slam winners. It is tied, 22 huge wins, but they cannot play until June, at Roland Garros. So that is months from now. Instead, it is more important to find out who can try to reach into the top 5 this year, and beat the those nearly untouchable players.

No. 8 Taylor Fritz does has a chance to repeat at Indian Wells in March and Frances Tiafoe have another opportunity to win his first ATP 1000. The No. 15 Tiafoe has been better over the past year and a half, but he also can be inconsistent.

Fritz looked very good going into the Australian Open, after he beat four good players. But in the second round in Melbourne, he went down against Alexei Popyrin. That was a big shocker. If he can re-set immediately, then he can start to turn on the jets. Coming up, he will play in the Dallas Open,

Tiafoe, who looked stellar in Melbourne until the third round, when he went down to the resurgent Karen Khachanov.

Another American, Tommy Paul, had a fantastic two weeks at the Australian Open, as he reached into a Grand Slam semi for the first time. He has so locked in, and his forehand and his backhand were more than muscular. However, in the last two sets, Djokovic wiped him out. For Paul, he finally made it into the top 20, and for sure, if he wants to leap into the top 10, then he will have to continue improving.

The American men have not won a Grand Slam since 2003 when Andy Roddick grabbed the US Open. That is almost 20 years ago. Eventually, someone will, but this year at RG, Wimbledon, and the US Open? That would be a somewhat astonishing, such as beating Djokovic, Nadal, and the teenager Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. Or you can throw in Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the Aussie Open final. In the two out of three, it is possible to play great and upset the opponent, but in the three out of five, then you have to sit there for hours. If you get tired, or you become nervous, then you can slip in the fifth set. It has happened so many times.

This week in Dallas, there are lots of players competing such as Brandon Nakashima, John Isner, J.J. Wolf, and Marcos Giron. Whomever wins can think that when he eventually goes to Indian Wells, he will be totally pumped up and ready to chop down everyone.

Breakthrough: Alycia Parks wins first title
Speaking of which, who would have thought that Alycia Parks won her first WTA singles title in Lyon, upsetting Caroline Garcia, 7-6(7), 7-5? Last year, the American was going up and down, winning and losing a lot. Yet in the fall, the 22-year-old kept going into the net, and putting away losts of volleys. Plus, she is fast, and her strokes go deep. Last year, she beat Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari in Ostrava. After that, she knew that she could be much more daring on the court.

“I think the key was to stay focused and take my time,” Parks said. “Every time I passed myself, I kind of lost points, so I told myself to slow down. All this week I’ve been kind of chilled this week and just kept playing my game and getting into it.”