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Australian Open spotlight on U.S. Olympic men’s tennis qualifying

As Paris Olympics beckon, Tirico reflects on 2023
As 2023 nears an end and another Olympic year awaits, Mike Tirico reflects on the gold standards of Simone Biles, Mikaela Shiffrin, Sha'Carri Richardson, Ilia Malinin, Caeleb Dressel, Jordan Stolz, Erin Jackson and more.

A recent resurgence in U.S. men’s tennis means that a highly ranked American will not qualify outright for the Olympics.

Frances Tiafoe is the man on the outside more than halfway through qualifying.

Even though Tiafoe went into the Australian Open ranked 17th in the world, he leaves Melbourne with a (small) deficit to make up to get into the Olympic field of 64, which is capped at four players per nation.

Four of the top five American men played their second-round matches at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Ben Shelton, Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda all advanced.


Tiafoe’s defeat meant that Tiafoe will finish the Australian Open no better than fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying, a year-long points race that runs through the French Open in May and June.

The top four Americans after the French Open qualify outright for the Paris Olympics, which will also be held at Roland Garros.

Shelton leads qualifying with 1,790 points, with 720 of them coming from his U.S. Open semifinal run last September.

He’s followed by Fritz (1,520), Tommy Paul (1,370, with his Australian Open second-round match slated for Thursday) and Korda (1,155). Tiafoe is 55 points behind Korda.

Shelton, Fritz and Korda can each add another 100 points if they win their third-round matches Friday. Paul adds 50 points if he beats 55th-ranked Brit Jack Draper on Thursday.

The competition for the four spots will continue into the spring, especially at Masters-level events where tournament champions receive 1,000 points and even a couple of match wins can make up Tiafoe’s current deficit.

The U.S. women’s Olympic qualifying picture is clearer.

Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys have a considerable cushion. Emma Navarro is in the driver’s seat for the fourth and final spot, more than 500 points ahead of the rest of the field.