American tennis is in a great place right now with 23 players ranked in the Top 100 - nine on the men’s side and 14 on the women’s side - and after such a successful 2017 season, there could be big things in store for a lot of them in the new year when it comes to Grand Slams and the rankings.
Here are just seven of the many Americans on the verge of something big in 2018 (in no particular order):
1. Sloane Stephens - breaking the Top 10. After spending nearly a year on the sidelines due to a foot injury, Stephens made an incredible return to the tour this past summer, going all the way to her first major at the US Open. She set her career-high ranking of No.11 in 2013 - she’s currently ranked No.13 with no points to defend until next summer, so finally breaking the Top 10 is well within reach.
2. Jack Sock - a Grand Slam breakthrough. Whether it’s reaching his first quarterfinal or going even deeper - maybe even winning one - if Sock’s post-US Open results are anything to go by, he’s ready for a Grand Slam breakthrough in 2018. In his last two tournaments of 2017 he won his first Masters 1000 in Paris and reached the semifinals of the ATP Finals - and finished the year at No.8.
Here’s what Sock is capable of, from his win over then-No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals:
3. CoCo Vandeweghe - her first Grand Slam final. Vandeweghe, who broke the Top 10 on the year-end rankings in 2017, not only reached two Grand Slam semifinals this past year, at the Australian Open and US Open, but in both tournaments she upset the reigning World No.1 along the way. So why can’t she make it one step further to her first major final in 2018 - or even to her first major title?
4. Madison Keys - her first Grand Slam title. The former World No.7 has been to the quarterfinals or better at every major except the French Open, coming extremely close to her first major twice before - she was a semifinalist at the 2015 Australian Open, falling to Serena Williams in a tight two-setter, and a runner-up to Stephens at the 2017 US Open. Is 2018 the year she gets her first major?
5. Sam Querrey - his first Grand Slam final and breaking the Top 10. He’s been so close to both so far, reaching his first major semifinal at Wimbledon this year and reaching a career-high of No.13 in the fall, like Vandeweghe he’s got a penchant for beating World No.1s - he’s achieved the feat at Wimbledon in both of the last two years (Novak Djokovic in 2016 and Andy Murray in 2017).
Here are some of Querrey’s best moments from his latest win over a World No.1 at a major:
6. Serena Williams - winning her first major as a mom. She’s done just about everything there is in tennis, but winning a Grand Slam title as a mom would be a first for Serena. Only three players have achieved the feat in the Open Era, namely Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters - whether Serena returns to action in Australia or later in the season, can she become the fourth?
7. Venus Williams - oldest player to win a major or rank No.1. Should Venus win a major or return to No.1 in 2018, she wouldn’t just be the oldest woman to achieve either feat in the Open Era, she would be the oldest player, period - male or female. The World No.5 was just a win away from winning two of the four majors in 2017, and she was a finalist at the WTA Finals, too - a great omen for 2018.