Trojans compete at the Australian Open

The Australian Open is one of the four biggest tennis tournaments of the year, and this year many former and current Trojan stars qualified and showed out on the court.  (Photo courtesy of Christian Wittman)

Seven Trojans competed in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Australian Open this year. Six alumni played in the main draw, but the newest Trojan, freshman Learner Tien, dominated the junior draw. Tien, who will join USC this spring, was the singles runner-up and the doubles champion in the prestigious junior tournament. Here are the former and current USC players who played in the 2023 Australian Open and their results. 

Brandon Holt — Men’s Singles

This Australian Open was Holt’s second appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. In the first qualifying round, Holt beat Radu Albot, the third-ranked seed in the qualifiers draw. Holt then dominated his opponent in the second qualifying round, winning in two sets with scores of 6-3, 6-0. Holt also won the third and final qualifying round in two straight sets, which advanced him into the main draw. 

In the round of 128, Holt beat Aleksandar Vukic in a five-set match. Holt then faced No. 25-ranked Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Holt was up at the beginning of the match and won the first two sets 6-4, 6-2, but he lost the following three sets and was eliminated from the tournament. 

Learner Tien — Junior Men’s Singles and Doubles

17-year-old Tien will start playing for the men’s tennis team this spring. His play was exceptional in the Junior Championships, where he made the finals in both singles and doubles. In singles, Tien coasted through the first three rounds. He then beat No. 2 seed Iliyan Radulov 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and Tomasz Berkieta in the semifinals. Tien then played in the finals against No. 3 seed Alexander Blockx, but lost after forcing a third set.

However, Tien and his partner Cooper Williams won the doubles finals as the No. 7 seeded team. They dominated throughout the tournament and beat the No. 1 seeded team in the finals 6-4, 6-4. 

Kaitlyn Christian — Women’s Doubles 

Christian graduated from USC in 2014 and has a WTA doubles ranking of 65. She played doubles with Montenegrin tennis player Danka Kovinić at the Australian Open. However, the pair did not make it past the first round. 

Christian and Kovinić were tied with their opponents at 6 in the first set, but then lost the tiebreak 7-2. They went on to lose the second set 6-2, allowing Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi to advance to the round of 64. 

Yannick Hanfmann — Men’s Singles

Hanfmann, part of the class of 2015, dominated in the men’s singles qualifying rounds. He beat Maximilian Marterer in the first qualifying round with a 6-4 walkover. Hanfmann then swept his opponent away in the second qualifying round 6-2, 6-2. He faced some challenges in the first set of the third qualifying round, after losing the set tiebreak against Facundo Diaz Acosta. However, Hanfmann rebounded and won the following two sets, advancing him to the main draw. 

Although he lost, Hanfmann played a lively 5-set match against Australian and eventual men’s doubles champion Rinky Hijikata in the round of 128. Hanfmann won the first two sets 6-4, 6-4, but Hijikata began his comeback by winning the third set. Hanfmann persevered and tied the fourth set at six games, but lost the intense tiebreak 7-5. He then lost the final set 6-3, which eliminated him from the tournament. 

Angela Kulikov — Women’s Doubles 

Kulikov has a WTA doubles ranking of 58 and played with Sophie Chang this Australian Open. They played a competitive game against their opponents in the first set and were tied at four all, but eventually lost the set 6-4. Kulikov and Chang, however, did not play as close of a game in the second set and ended up losing the first round match.

Robert Farah — Men’s Doubles 

Farah, currently ranked No. 27 in the world for doubles, paired with Juan Sebastián Cabal as the No. 12 seed. Farah had high chances going into this tournament as a two-time doubles Grand Slam champion. He also won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon finals in 2019. He only made it to the third round of this year’s Australian Open, but still had some eventful matches. 

Farah and Cabal had a close 6-8 tiebreak in the second set of the first round, but they pulled through and won the match. The pair also had a significant comeback in the second round and won the final two sets 6-3, 6-1 after losing the first set 6-4. However, Frenchmen Benjamin Bonzi and Arthur Rinderknech fought to win the third round match. The first two sets had close tiebreaks, but the French players won in the end, saying goodbye to Farah and Cabal. 

Giuliana Olmos — Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles

Olmos, currently ranked No. 8 in the world for doubles, was busy playing women’s and mixed doubles in this Grand Slam. She made it to the third round of women’s doubles with her partner Anna Kalinskaya. Olmos and Kalinskaya swept through the early matches in the first two rounds. However, their luck ran out in the third round, as the duo lost against the No. 3 seeds. 

In the mixed doubles event, Olmos played with Marcelo Arévalo and made it to the second round. Both teams played competitively and ended up with split sets, but Olmos and Arévalo persevered and won the 10-point tiebreak 10-6. Their second round match against David Vega Hernández and 2017 Roland Garros singles champion Jeļena Ostapenko was full of excitement. Olmos and Arévalo won the first set in a 7-4 tiebreak but lost the second set in an 8-6 tiebreak. At one set each, Hernández and Ostapenko pulled through and won the 10-point tiebreak 10-6.