Sport Tennis US Open: The Aussie tennis stories we keep forgetting about
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US Open: The Aussie tennis stories we keep forgetting about

Ash Barty
Ashleigh Barty has been one of the feelgood Australian tennis stories of the past few years. Photo: Getty
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Too often it can be easy to lose sight of the good stories in Australian tennis.

Most headlines are chewed up by Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, who, when they can be bothered, mope from one tournament to the next, occasionally showing glimpses of their obvious talent before reverting to tantrums or indifference.

If they aren’t making news on the court, they’re doing it in front of the cameras, telling us what they don’t like about Tennis Australia, the sport itself and even each other.

Sport is dominated by cliche-ridden press conferences so Kyrgios and Tomic stand out.

There’s no room for BS in their brutally honest world; a habit that probably sees them receive more criticism than they warrant.

But amid all the frothing at the mouth that occurred this week after both bombed out in the first round at the US Open, many other Aussies quietly went about their business.

Ashleigh Barty, the prodigiously talented Queenslander who took 18 months off tennis to play cricket, has reached the third round of the women’s singles.

Still only 21, Barty has won 34 of 47 matches on the WTA Tour in an excellent 2017, highlighted by her first title in Kuala Lumpur, and a win against Venus Williams in Cincinnati last month.

Barty is ranked 43rd, largely because of her lengthy lay-off, but with a CV that includes four grand slam finals in women’s doubles, and a girls’ singles title at Wimbledon at just 15, her star – and ranking – will surely only rise.

Her US Open started with a come-from-behind win over 21st seed Ana Konjuh and was followed by a straight-sets triumph against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

A third-round meeting with American Sloane Stephens is to come, and it looms as a very real possibility that Barty will run into Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals.

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Daria Gavrilova is now the top-ranked Australian women’s player. Photo: Getty

Daria Gavrilova also broke her WTA title duck in 2017, winning in New Haven only last week.

She was a second-round loser in New York, falling in three sets to Shelby Rogers, but has enjoyed a career-best year.

The good news stories aren’t limited to the ladies.

Though he lost in the second round, Jordan Thompson’s first-up win over Jack Sock cannot be underestimated.

Facing the tournament’s 13th seed on his home patch, Thompson burst out of the blocks, faded and rallied again to win an epic five-setter in a shade under four hours.

Thompson, ranked 73rd, described it as “incredible” and that it “meant the world” to him, but Tomic’s latest snap stole the attention.

Like many of his compatriots, the 23-year-old is putting together an excellent year.

He has emerged as a crucial part of Australia’s Davis Cup bid (he also beat Sock in April’s quarter-final win over the United States) and he derailed Andy Murray’s Wimbledon preparations too, knocking the Scot out at lead-up event Queen’s.

And then there’s John Millman.

The 28-year-old from Brisbane, who turned pro in 2006, has dropped like a stone in this year’s rankings after stomach surgery-induced inactivity.

johnmillmanusopen
John Millman will play Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri in round two. Photo: Getty

He reached a career-high of 60 last year, but is now 235th and followed up an upset win over Kyrgios with a straight-sets triumph over Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri on Friday morning (AEST).

Millman, who was supremely diplomatic after beating Kyrgios, stating it was a “hollow victory” given his compatriot’s shoulder injury, was surely jumping for joy after setting up a third-round clash with either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Santiago Giraldo.

Should he win, Millman will pocket $A181,000 and feature in the tournament’s second week for the first time.

It would be a deserved reward for a player who has scrapped and fought through his whole career.

Believe it or not, there are Aussie tennis players willing to do that. You just have to look a little harder.

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