The Young Guns are Coming: Ruud, Munar, McDonald, and Ymer Headline 2018 Australian Open Qualifiers

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Despite fits and spurts of rain that delayed 2018 Australian Open qualifying until a Sunday conclusion, all of the qualifiers were decided before the start of main draw play and they are ready to go as they hope to make their own history in Melbourne. Here is your look at the men’s qualifiers.

Young guns Lead the Way

Young guns had a great run of form in AO 2018 qualifying. 21 year old Quentin Halys won a pair of three setters and then put away Bjorn Fratangelo to reach the main draw. He’ll hope to match his second round result at the AO last year by defeating fellow young gun Casper Ruud. The 19 year old Ruud matched his father as the only Norwegian players to make the Australian Open main draw. Ruud dropped a pair of sets in qualifying but he should be fully ready for his grand slam debut.

20 year old Jaume Munar is also making his Grand Slam debut, the Spaniard has a tough test against Gael Monfils in the opening round, but he didn’t drop a set in qualifying so that should help keep him fresh. Munar is the next great Spanish hope.

23 year old Vaclav Safranek is playing in his second ever grand slam, he’ll face countryman Jiri Vesely after sweeping through qualifying without dropping a set.

Young guns Mackenzie McDonald (USA) and Elias Ymer (Sweden) will face off after they both dropped just 1 set in qualifying. The 22 year old McDonald who went to UCLA, and the 21 year old Ymer, who is coached by Robin Soderling, are both seeking their first ever Grand Slam main draw victory.

Big Servers Brown and Pospisil Make the Cut

Dustin Brown has yet to win a main draw match in Melbourne, but he gritted his way through qualifying, winning all three of his matches in three sets, including a third set tiebreak win in his second round qualifying match. The supreme shotmaker Brown takes on Joao Sousa in the opening round and has at least somewhat of a chance.

Vasek Pospisil is unlikely to match his previous third round showings in Melbourne, he faces Marin Cilic to open the main draw after eking out his second and third round qualifying matches in three sets. Pospisil’s countryman Peter Polansky, a journeyman veteran, made the draw as a lucky loser and faces Karen Khachanov in round 1. Polansky is 0-2 in Melbourne main draw matches.

Italians Make Grand Slam Debuts

Italians Lorenzo Sonego (age 22) and Salvatore Caruso will make their grand slam debuts at the Aussie Open. Caruso had to grind hard to win two out of his three qualifying matches in three sets, and he faces Malek Jaziri in round 1. Sonego ended Bernard Tomic’s qualifying bid in the final round with a three set win, and won his other two qualifying matches without a set dropped. Robin Haase is his round 1 opponent.

Neither player was expected to qualify, but their admission into the draw is a surprise bit of positive news for Italian tennis fans. Italy’s Matteo Berrettini is also making his grand slam debut at age 21, he made the cut as a lucky loser and only has 1 career ATP match under his belt. Veteran Adrian Mannarino is his first round opposition.

Former AO Boys Champions Facing Off in Round 1

Yuki Bhambri will take on the veteran Marcos Baghdatis after India’s top male singles player qualified. Bhambri’s best slam has been the AO, but he has yet to win a match in the main draw, he won two of his three qualifying matches in three sets. As a bit of trivia, both Bhambri and Baghdatis are former AO Boys Singles champions.

European and American Contingent Substantial Yet Again

Austria’s Dennis Novak, Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans, and Germany’s Matthias Bachinger added to the European contingent in Melbourne. Bachinger takes on David Goffin after dropping just one set in qualifying. He’s twice won Grand Slam main draw matches in his career. A stalwart of Belgium’s Davis Cup side, Bemelmans will try for a third time to win a main draw match in Melbourne. He dropped a pair of sets in qualifying and gets Lucas Pouille in round 1. Novak dropped sets in all of his qualifying matches and makes his grand slam debut in an unenviable match against Grigor Dimitrov. Winning in round 1 will be tough for all three players.

America’s Denis Kudla, and Kevin King also made the main draw, showing the depth of American men in singles. Kudla has 1 career win at the AO and faces his countryman Steve Johnson to start things off after dropping just a set in qualifying. King, a former standout at Georgia Tech, didn’t drop a set in qualifying and faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his grand slam debut.

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