The top 10 U.S. tennis players heading into Indian Wells

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After a dry spell that lasted through virtually the entire 2010s, American men’s tennis has begun to make up for lost time. Last March, Taylor Fritz became the first U.S. man in 21 years to win at Indian Wells. Then Frances Tiafoe became the first U.S. man in 15 years to reach the US Open semifinals last September.

At the Australian Open in January, Sebastian Korda, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul became the first trio of American men to reach the quarterfinals in 23 years, with Paul reaching the semis in the process. A week ago, Fritz became the first American male in the ATP top five in 14 years — and there are currently 10 American men in the top 50.

There might actually be greater depth on the men’s side than the women’s at the moment, which feels jarring to say. But No. 3-ranked Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, who made the French Open final last year, appear close to a first Slam title in 2023. Meanwhile, veterans Madison Keys and Danielle Collins aren’t far from a top-15 standard. Then there’s a trio of early-20s youngsters — Amanda Anisimova, Alycia Parks and Caty McNally — who have flashed increasing potential in recent months.

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, kicks off on Wednesday, and the ATP and WTA tours briefly blend together. Now’s a good time to take stock: Which Americans on both tours are playing the best tennis right now? Who has the best chance of doing damage in March and beyond?

Here are the 10 best American tennis players, men and women, at this very moment.

Women

1. Jessica Pegula
WTA ranking: 3
Tennis Abstract ranking: 5
2023 record (vs. top 50): 13-4 (7-4)

Not even Iga Swiatek has made the quarterfinals of five of the past six Slams like Pegula has. But Swiatek has proved to be a big obstacle for the 29-year-old: Pegula is 2-12 lifetime against the world No. 1, and 1-5 over the past year.

Pegula stomped Swiatek 6-2, 6-2 in the United Cup, and Swiatek responded with a one-upping 6-3, 6-0 win in Doha. Any chance Pegula has of crossing “Slam title” off her to-do list — it’s basically the only thing that remains unchecked — will require both the steadiest possible play and a potential Swiatek upset. It hasn’t worked out just yet, but Pegula remains the best American tennis player.

2. Coco Gauff
WTA ranking: 6
Tennis Abstract ranking: 8
2023 record (vs. top 50): 11-3 (5-3)

Growth doesn’t tend to be linear, but don’t tell that to Gauff. Still only 18 for another week, she finished 2019 ranked 68th, then ended 2020 ranked 48th. She nearly doubled her point total in jumping to 22nd at the end of 2021, then jumped even further, to seventh, last year after a run to the French Open final. Two months into 2023, she is sixth, and while her 2022 season was excellent, she doesn’t have many points to defend in Indian Wells and Miami. Everything is set up for her to make another jump heading into clay season.

She is just so steady. Over the past year she has gone only 2-10 against fellow top-10 players, but five of those losses were to Swiatek, and Gauff is also an upset-proof 25-0 against players outside the top 50. It takes an elite performance to beat Gauff, and if her improvement continues as it has, even that won’t get it done for much longer.

3. Madison Keys
WTA ranking: 20
Tennis Abstract ranking: 16
2023 record (vs. top 50): 10-3 (4-3)

Keys has finished six of the past eight years ranked between 11th and 19th, once going higher (eighth in 2016), once lower (56th after an injury-plagued and form-challenged 2021). Few are better at lurking around in a draw, as evidenced by the fact that she has reached a Slam quarterfinal in five different years, a semifinal in four.

It seems a run at some point in 2023 is possible, too. The 28-year-old fell to Victoria Azarenka in the third round in Australia (and dropped from 13th to 23rd as a result in the process), but she was outstanding in the United Cup in January, and she made the Dubai quarterfinals in February.

4. Danielle Collins
WTA ranking: 31
Tennis Abstract ranking: 20
2023 record (vs. top 50): 8-7 (3-5)

Collins rose as high as seventh in the WTA rankings last year, in large part due to her Australian Open finals appearance. She reached three other quarterfinals, but after falling to eventual finalist Elena Rybakina in the third round of this year’s Australian Open, her ranking briefly plummeted out of the top 40 before rebounding.

Collins, 29, hasn’t played all that poorly of late, but she has been inconsistent, dropping a set in four of her last six wins and losing every match she has played against a top-25 opponent this year. And after winning 45% of her return points and breaking 38% of the time in 2022, she’s at 39% and 25%, respectively, in 2023. That obviously needs improvement.

5. Lauren Davis
WTA ranking: 47
Tennis Abstract ranking: 52
2023 record (vs. top 50): 12-5 (3-2)

The 5-foot-2 Davis ranked 105th at the start of the US Open; it was basically par for the course for the 29-year-old, who had risen into the top 40 in 2017 but battled inconsistency since.

Now? She’s back in the top 50. She won January’s tuneup tournament in Hobart as a qualifier, and she has won five of her past nine matches against top-50 opposition. She might have the best return game outside of the American top two (Pegula and Gauff), and while her height impacts her ceiling, she’s in excellent form right now.

6. Shelby Rogers
WTA ranking: 40
Tennis Abstract ranking: 39
2023 record (vs. top 50): 9-6 (2-5)

After missing much of 2018-19 with a knee injury, Rogers, now 30, slowly worked her way back into top-50 form in 2021-22. After a rough run on clay and grass last year, she won eight of 10 matches in one stretch during the summer US Open run. She bounced back from a poor draw at the Australian Open (she ran into eventual champ Aryna Sabalenka in the second round) by beating Leylah Fernandez to reach the Abu Dhabi quarterfinals.

In a short-points battle, Rogers is as powerful as almost any American. She is a threat to win at least two or three matches in every tournament she enters.

7. Amanda Anisimova
WTA ranking: 35
Tennis Abstract ranking: 40
2023 record (vs. top 50): 3-5 (1-4)

From the start of 2022’s clay-court season through Wimbledon, the 21-year-old was one of the best players in the world. She won at least three matches in five of six tournaments, reached the second week at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon and surged from borderline WTA top 50 to a career-best No. 22.

She broke a toe in the hard-court run (which included a first-round US Open loss), however, and she has struggled to find a rhythm in 2023. She beat No. 19 Liudmila Samsonova in Adelaide, and she took Azarenka to a third-set tiebreaker recently in Dubai, but she has won just seven matches since Wimbledon.

8. Alycia Parks
WTA ranking: 55
Tennis Abstract ranking: 59
2023 record (vs. top 50): 7-4 (2-1)

Over the past year, Parks has won 63% of service points and held 80% of the time. Among top-50 players, only Caroline Garcia, Rybakina or Sabalenka (if her recent service rebound is sustainable) could claim a more effective serve.

The 22-year-old stormed into the top 50 in February, beating Garcia to win the Lyon title. She hasn’t handled expectations well, losing four or five matches since. But including a run through 125-level events in the fall, she has won 20 of her past 26 matches, and she has beaten her past three top-20 opponents (Garcia, Maria Sakkari, Karolina Pliskova). Upside, upside, upside.

9. Caty McNally
WTA ranking: 73
Tennis Abstract ranking: 68
2023 record (vs. top 50): 5-3 (1-1)

Still only 21 years old and already a top-20 doubles player and two-time US Open doubles finalist, McNally finished 2022 in the top 100 in singles and moved into the top 75 with a run to the semifinals in Merida last month.

McNally has won 19 of her past 25 matches, and while most of those wins came against lower-level opponents, she has also won three of her past six against top-50 players. She took Ons Jabeur to a third-set tiebreaker in August, and she created more break points than she faced in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Swiatek in October. Her solo game is rounding into form.

10. Bernarda Pera
WTA ranking: 42
Tennis Abstract ranking: 67
2023 record (vs. top 50): 5-6 (1-1)

A late bloomer of sorts, the Croatian-born 28-year-old finally cracked the WTA top 100 in 2018 at age 23 and finally won her first WTA event (two, actually) last summer at age 27.

Pera went on a clay-court heater in 2022, winning a pair of 250-level events — she beat Anett Kontaveit, No. 2 at the time, to win Hamburg — and going 19-6 overall on the surface. That could make her awfully intriguing to follow come clay-court season. But she has labored of late on hard courts, losing four of her past five matches, three to players outside of the top 80, since an upset of Qinwen Zheng in Melbourne.

Men

1. Taylor Fritz
ATP ranking: 5
Tennis Abstract ranking: 11
2023 record (vs. top 50): 14-4 (7-2)

You know your career is coming along nicely when you reach the “underwhelming but still winning” stage. Fritz has been inconsistent in 2023 — he was upset by Alexei Popyrin in Australia and by Yibing Wu in Dallas, and, more forgivably, by Paul in Acapulco, and he has dropped a set in four of his past 10 wins. And yet, he beat Hubert Hurkacz and Matteo Berrettini in January’s United Cup, won Delray Beach and just entered the ATP top five for the first time. Just imagine if he actually finds his rhythm!

The 25-year-old still has work to do in the return department. He pummels second serves but has won just 29% of first-serve return points this year, third worst among the top 10 — and his attention span comes and goes. But his upside and perseverance levels have proved elite over the past year. Now he attempts to become the first man to repeat at Indian Wells since Novak Djokovic’s 2014-16 trifecta.

2. Frances Tiafoe
ATP ranking: 16
Tennis Abstract ranking: 20
2023 record (vs. top 50): 10-3 (3-3)

From 2017 to 2020, Tiafoe won between 49.1% and 49.5% of his points each year on tour and finished around a top-50 level on average. He raised that percentage to 50.3% in 2021 and zoomed into the top 20.

So far in 2023, he’s at a top-10 worthy 52.8%. He has won 22 of 31 sets, too. It’s not all great news — he fell to a smoking hot Karen Khachanov at the Australian Open, lost back-to-back quarterfinals in Dallas (to J.J. Wolf) and Acapulco (to Fritz), and has lost six in a row to top-20 opponents since his dramatic US Open run. But we’re to the point where losing in the quarterfinals is disappointing. That’s growth.

3. Tommy Paul
ATP ranking: 19
Tennis Abstract ranking: 22
2023 record (vs. top 50): 12-4 (4-3)

After his first-round loss in the 2022 French Open, Paul was 6-11 all-time in Slams. He had climbed into the ATP top 40 but had advanced past the second round in a Slam just once.

Now, he has done it three consecutive times. He reached the Wimbledon fourth round, took eventual finalist Casper Ruud to five sets at the US Open and beat Jenson Brooksby, Ben Shelton and two seeded players in reaching the Aussie Open semifinals. Then he beat Fritz to reach the Acapulco finals, too. He has no dominant traits, but he is above average on serve and excellent in return. He is 9-8 against top-20 opponents over the past year, and at 25 has perhaps not yet reached his peak.

4. Sebastian Korda
ATP ranking: 26
Tennis Abstract ranking: 7
2023 record (vs. top 50): 8-2 (6-2)

At the end of the Australian Open, Korda might have been ranked No. 1 here. He looked like a borderline top-five player in Melbourne, manhandling defending runner-up Daniil Medvedev in straight sets and taking down Hurkacz in five. In the Adelaide tuneup before that, he took the first two sets to a tiebreak in the final against Djokovic before ultimately losing the match. He had reached three finals overall since October, and everything seemed to be clicking for the 22-year-old and “worst athlete in the family.”

In a nip-and-tuck quarterfinal battle with Khachanov at the Australian Open, however, he injured his right wrist, and hasn’t played since. He will miss Indian Wells but is aiming for a return at Miami. If this isn’t a long-term issue, Korda could make a top-10 charge soon.

5. J.J. Wolf
ATP ranking: 44
Tennis Abstract ranking: 38
2023 record (vs. top 50): 8-5 (3-1)

After going a combined 2-6 at ATP-level events in 2020-21, the former Ohio State Buckeye went 15-13 in 2022 and reached his first tour final in Florence in October. Two months into 2023, he has already won eight more matches, including three in both Melbourne (where he upset Diego Schwartzman) and Dallas (against Tiafoe).

At 6 feet tall, the 24-year-old is as much grinder as power hitter, but his forehand is one of the best in the American player pool, and his serve is above average. He has played almost entirely on hard courts, but he showed well in both Indian Wells and Miami last year and could do the same this month.

6. Maxime Cressy
ATP ranking: 37
Tennis Abstract ranking: 43
2023 record (vs. top 50): 7-6 (3-4)

The 25-year-old is a French American dual national, but he has an extremely American game: His stature (6-foot-7) and serve are both big. He serves and volleys more than anyone on tour, and he has held 92% of the time in 2023, fourth among top-50 players. (Don’t ask about his return stats.)

Cressy made the fourth round in Australia in 2022 and beat Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon. He has made three 250-level finals since last summer, winning one (he beat Isner and Alexander Bublik to win Newport). After losing to Holger Rune in Australia, he took down both Rune and Borna Coric on the way to the finals in Montpellier in February.

7. Jenson Brooksby
ATP ranking: 49
Tennis Abstract ranking: 39
2023 record (vs. top 50): 5-2 (2-2)

Thanks to a left wrist injury, the 22-year-old hasn’t played since losing to Paul in Australia, but he made quite the impression in January, reaching the Auckland semifinals before thumping Ruud in Melbourne.

Brooksby might already be the best returner of all American men; among the current top 50, his 27% break rate is tied for ninth best. Occasional gamesmanship and a weak serve (confusing considering his 6-foot-4 frame) make him rather odd to watch. But he still has plenty of time to patch the holes in his game, and he has beaten both Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas (and reached the finals in Atlanta) in the past year.

8. John Isner
ATP ranking: 39
Tennis Abstract ranking: 29
2023 record (vs. top 50): 4-4 (1-2)

At 37, Isner is still mostly Isner. He is winning the highest percentage of service points, with the highest ace percentage, of anyone in the top 50. He reached his 31st career final in Dallas in February, and he took Fritz to three sets in Acapulco on Monday.

He is also 37. Outside of the Dallas run, he is 0-3 in 2023. He fell in the first round in Melbourne and hasn’t passed the third round in a Slam since 2018. The serve has assured that he has aged gracefully, but time eventually catches us all.

9. Mackenzie McDonald
ATP ranking: 52
Tennis Abstract ranking: 52
2023 record (vs. top 50): 11-6 (5-5)

The onetime UCLA Bruin has found a new level of consistency at age 27, and he scored his biggest upset, taking down an admittedly injured Rafael Nadal in Australia. He has reached five quarterfinals and two semifinals since September, going 8-8 against top-50 opponents in the process, and, well, going .500 against top-50 players suggests you’re a top-50 player!

It’s fair to wonder about McDonald’s ceiling in comparison to other Americans here. He lost to Tiafoe, Fritz and Paul in straight sets over the last month, and Nadal match aside, he has won just two sets in his other nine matches against top-20 opponents in the past year.

10. Ben Shelton
ATP ranking: 41
Tennis Abstract ranking: 49
2023 record (vs. top 50): 5-5 (1-2)

The 20-year-old Floridian won the NCAAs last spring, walloped then-No. 5 Ruud in his second ATP tournament last August, won three Challenger tournaments in a row last fall and stormed to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, just his second Slam (and first trip outside of America), in January.

Shelton has hit a bumpy patch since his Melbourne breakthrough, losing in straight sets to fellow American Marcos Giron in Delray Beach and falling in three to No. 10 Rune in Acapulco. But he has already almost cracked the ATP top 40, and his big serve, 6-foot-4 frame and athleticism make his potential incredibly high.

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