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American hopes at the 2024 Australian Open: Gauff, Shelton, Tiafoe and more

Sofia Kenin was the last American to win the Australian Open back in 2020, and the wait for an American men's singles champion in Melbourne stretches back to 2003, when Andre Agassi came out on top.

But heading into 2024, there should be faint optimism about another American champion down under, especially in the women's draw.

As the new season's first Grand Slam approaches, here is a look at some of the players flying the flag for the USA who could make an impression.

Shelton looking to build on 2023 Grand Slam success

At +5000, Ben Shelton is the shortest-priced American in the men's outright betting at the Australian Open with only eight players above him.

That is pretty impressive given that this time last year, the Georgia-born ace was preparing for his first ever Australian Open appearance.

On his debut in Melbourne, Shelton progressed all the way to the quarter-finals, taking down Zhang Zhizhen, Nicolas Jarry, Alexei Popyrin and JJ Wolf en route before losing to compatriot Tommy Paul in four sets.

That propelled Shelton up 45 places in the ATP world rankings to 44th and he climbed even higher later in the year when he defied expectations to reach the US Open semi-finals.

Shelton has shown he is a player for the big occasions, saving his best performances for the Grand Slams, and with a key season of success under his belt, he is worth monitoring in Melbourne.

Fritz, Tiafoe and Paul all outsiders in Melbourne

Further down the men's outright betting for the 2024 Australian Open, punters will find the usual suspects looking to lay down a marker for the USA.

Taylor Fritz, who is the highest-ranked American in the ATP rankings in tenth spot, is a +6600 shot, although his performances at Grand Slams still leave plenty to be desired.

Fritz reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last year but that was only the second time he progressed to that stage of a major and last year's Australian Open campaign finished with a fourth-round exit.

Although +10000, Tommy Paul may resemble a greater chance of glory given he became the first American man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since 2009 last year.

However, he failed to go beyond the fourth round of the remaining three Grand Slams last season, exiting the French Open in the second and Wimbledon in the third.

Paul also failed to pick up a single title in 2023, so it is understandable he is being quoted at a three-figure price.

Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda are other options at +8000.

Tiafoe is typically at his best on the hard courts, although his best performance at the Australian Open - a run to the quarter-finals - came back in 2019.

And while 23-year-old Korda reached that stage of the tournament only last year, the Floridian still feels a bit raw and lacked consistency on the ATP tour last season.

Gauff offers greatest hope of American triumph

The women's Australian Open offers far more hope for American fans than the men's.

In +700 shot Coco Gauff, the USA have a genuine shot at glory in Melbourne with only Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina above her in the betting.

Swiatek's aversion to the hard surface also plays into the hands of Gauff, who won the last hard-court Grand Slam - the 2023 US Open.

That was a remarkable achievement from the 19-year-old, who held her nerve in front of a home crowd to take down Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2 in the final.

The weight of expectation on Gauff's shoulders has also seemed a little unfair but she showed she can cope with it at Flushing Meadows and there is no reason why she cannot repeat the trick in Melbourne.

Keep an eye on consistent Pegula

Jessica Pegula is the next American in the women's outright betting at +1600 and she has evolved into a picture of consistency on the WTA tour.

Pegula has reached the quarter-finals of all four Grand Slams and progressed to that stage of the Australian Open in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

It is undoubtedly her favourite Grand Slam and she is another fine hard-court talent worth keeping an eye on.

Pegula also heads into the new year in relatively high spirits, having finished as runner-up at the end-of-season WTA Finals, although her 6-1 6-0 hammering by Swiatek in the final was not ideal.

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