Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe opened their respective bids to become the first American man to win a Grand Slam title in 20 years with routine victories at the U.S. Open on Monday.
The top-ranked Americans were hardly tested as ninth seed Fritz crushed compatriot Steve Johnson 6-2 6-1 6-2 in Louis Armstrong Stadium after Tiafoe, the 10th seed, beat American Learner Tien 6-2 7-5 6-1 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
There have been 78 consecutive Grand Slams played since Andy Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open, and hopes that an American man can snap that title drought at one of the sport’s blue-riband events have fallen largely on the shoulders of Fritz and Tiafoe.
Fritz, the American number one since the end of 2021, set the tone early, using a dominant five-game stretch during which he won 20 of 23 points to open up a 5-1 lead before closing out the 23-minute set with a hold at love.
It was more one-way traffic in the second set as Fritz continued to attack Johnson’s serve and faced little resistance the rest of the way, proving far too strong as he wrapped up the encounter in 80 minutes without facing a single break point.
Fritz acknowledged there were a lot of expectations on him.
Tiafoe faced a tricky opening test in Tien, who at 17 was the youngest player in the main draw and earned a U.S. Open wild card after winning a second consecutive USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship.
But Tiafoe, who made a surprising run to the New York semis last year, took the first set without dropping serve, wrapped up the second with a hold at love and then raced through the third set by winning six consecutive games.
Another American hopeful, 17th seeded Tommy Paul, had a business-like 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-1 win over Italian Stefano Travaglia.
Paul fired 14 aces and broke Travaglia’s serve nine times to advance to a second-round meeting with Russian Roman Safiullin in a draw that looks favorable to the New Jersey native.
Paul, who beat world number one Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters of the Canadian Open earlier this month, said he and his compatriots were feeling the love in New York.
Christopher Eubanks, the 28th seed who made waves when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July, beat South Korean Kwon Soon-wo 6-3 6-4 0-6 6-4 on Grandstand to advance.
The biggest American to fall on the men’s side on Monday was Sebastian Korda, who came out on the losing side of a marathon 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 match against Marton Fucsovics that took nearly four-and-a-half hours.
The Hungarian peeled off his sweat-soaked shirt and flexed his muscles for the crowd after dispatching the tournament’s 31st seed to set up a second-round meeting with Australia’s Rinky Hijikata.