Improving American women making up for men's decline

Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:11am EST
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By Simon Cambers

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - For American tennis, it seems that when one door closes, another opens.

The retirement of Andy Roddick, illness of Mardy Fish and injury to John Isner meant that Sam Querrey is the only American to be seeded on the men's side at the Australian Open.

But in the women's event, four American women including the Williams sisters are seeded, six have made the second round and 10 began the tournament ranked in the top 100.

With Madison Keys making it through to round two, the Americans are scheduled to have 11 in the top 100, their best representation since 2007.

"It's a big plus for American tennis to have so many," rising U.S. player and 21st seed Varvara Lepchenko told reporters after her 6-4 6-1 win over Polona Hercog of Slovenia on Tuesday.

"We're all trying to compete hard and do our best and improve out there and do as much as we can.

"All the girls are looking up at each other and saying, ‘I'd been playing with her, I'd been competing with her, I've been playing on the same level,' so we push each other and it gives a lot of confidence to others and everybody improves."

When Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were winning most of the grand slam titles in the early 1980s, the U.S. dominated women's tennis.   Continued...

Madison Keys of the U.S. reacts after missing a point against Li Na of China during their women's singles match at the Sydney International tennis tournament January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz