MELBOURNE, Australia – There were 23 Americans in the Australian Open qualifying draws.
Twelve were on the women’s side, and 11 on the men’s side.
By the end of the even on Friday, only four made it all the way through to the main draw.
Three men – and only No. 23 seed Varvara Lepchenko on the women’s side.
There certainly were few overwhelming favorites. In fact, there wasn’t a single American among the top 15 seeds in either draw.
The top American seed was No. 16 Jennifer Brady, who lost in the final round to lefty Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.
Grand Slam debut for Eubanks
Among the men who qualified was Christopher Eubanks, who will be making his Grand Slam main-draw debut.
The 22-year-old, at NO. 171 just five off his career best, had a bit of good fortune in the second round when he came up against 18-year-old Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Auger-Aliassime had been dealing with a knee issue, the product of yet another little growth spurt in the last few months.
The Canadian won 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round of qualifying at the US Open last August. On Thursday, Eubanks played brilliantly in dispatching Auger-Aliassime by nearly the same score – 76 (4), 6-3.
He then had to get by Pedro Martinez, a 21-year-old from Spain who plays a lot more on clay than he does on hard court. And he did, in straight sets.
— Christopher Eubanks (@chris_eubanks96) January 11, 2019
Mitchell Krueger was one of the last to qualify Friday, which he did with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over Marco Trungelliti of Italy. All of Kruegers’ victories were three-set grinds.
The final qualifier was 24-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, who came back from a set down in his last two matches and pulled out deciding tiebreaks in both.
Fratangelo has now qualified three of the four times he’s come to the Australian Open. His next move will be to win a main-draw match.
Here are the matchups:
Lepchenko: [Q] Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)
Eubanks:  Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)
Frantangelo:  Gilles Simon (FRA)
Krueger:  Novak Djokovic
Lepchenko squeezes though
Lepchenko, 32, has been in the top 20 in her career, back in 2012.
But she’s fallen on tougher times, and is currently ranked No. 134 after ending the 2017 season at No. 62.
She has played the Australian Open 12 times before. And only once since 2010 had she had to play the qualifying (2012). She made the third round in both 2015 and 2016.
She barely made it. Lepchenko needed a deciding match tiebreak to get past countrywoman Christina Mchale, after Mchale served for match in the third set.
In the first round against young Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova, she had to do he same thing.
Here’s the difference between a first round and a final round.
Other Americans struggle
Here’s a gallery of some of the other Americans who played this week.
Of note was J.C. Aragone, who squeezed in as an alternate with his current career-high ranking of No. 253.
It was the first time in his career that the Argentina-born Aragone had made even the qualifying at a major on his own ranking; his college success at the University of Virginia got him wild cards into the US Open qualifying the last two years, where he qualified in 2018 after beating now No. 17 Marco Cecchinato in the first round.