What is the deal with American men’s tennis? Why aren’t we dominating the scene like we did in the 90s? This is an enigma to most tennis experts as no American male has won a Grand Slam title in 7 years and this drought will probably continue for at least another decade..
It was a tough day at Wimbledon today on the men’s side for the USA. The final 2 Americans left in the men’s draw, Andy Roddick and Sam Querrey, went down. Roddick’s loss was especially tough, in that his opponent only had one break point opportunity the entire match, and converted on it to beat Roddick 9 to 7 in the fifth. Generally when you give up one break opportunity over the course of an entire match, you are cruising. Not on this day for Mr. Roddick, who has really had tough luck with the majority of his career.
For those of you who do not remember, Andy rose to number 1 in the world for a short time in the late summer of 2003, when he went on a hot streak and captured his lone Grand Slam Title (the US Open at Flushing Meadows). Since then, Andy has stayed in the top 10, and generally found himself in the top 5, but he has been unable to convert on a Grand Slam Title. He has failed in 3 Wimbledon final’s appearance and 1 US Open final’s appearance since 2003. This in large part has been due to the phenomenal play of guys such like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. As I stated on an earlier blog post, Andy’s game is better now than it was in 03 when he reached number 1. Roddick was a guy who once was questioned for his work ethic. This has not been the case for years as he has taken it upon himself to considerably improve the weaknesses in his game such as his backhand and sometimes lack of patience during big time points. These are no longer problems. Roddick unfortunately has been a victim of the times (very tough players at the top).
Do not feel too bad for the guy though. He is rolling in money and his wife is a definite DP (dimepiece), having appeared on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Brooklyn Decker). Roddick is starting to become an elder statesman on the tour though, in that he is 28 years old. So who is the next great American? We were spoiled in the 90s by guys such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Expectations are very high and they are not being reached.
Sadly for the men, we have only 2 players outside Roddick ranked in the top 25 in the world (Roddick is 7th). Though Isner played in an epic Wimbledon match this year, he does not look ready to capture a Grand Slam title anytime soon or even crack the top 5. Then our next guy in line is Sam Querrey, who lost today. Querrey looks similar to Isner and does not appear to be cracking the top 5 anytime in the near future (he is a solid player though). Then we have 4 other guys ranked between 70th and 100th in the world. Fat chance any of these guys will really be making any big time noise anytime soon unfortunately. So the hope for American men to get back into the limelight of men’s tennis appears to not be happening in the next decade.
Then on the women’s side, things are not a whole lot better. The top 2 players in the world are the Williams sisters, who are both above the age of 28. Then after them, Melanie Oudin is the next highest ranked American female at 35th, followed by Vania King at 71st, and Jill Craybas at 100. So there are only 5 American women ranked in the top 100 in the world! And the Williams sisters could honestly retire at anytime in that they are getting older and really do not have much left to prove.
So the future of American tennis is looking pretty bleak on both sides of the spectrum (especially for the men). Any thoughts on why this is? And I will state that it is not due to a lack of enthusiasm from American youngsters in that tennis is more popular than it has ever been in the states with more USTA members than ever. I will give you one reason though. Many of the “foreign” men’s and women’s players train and spend the majority of their lives in the United States at tennis academies. And then they still are considered to be a “Russian” or “Australian” player, even if they have spent the majority of their lives in the United States. Outside of that though I really have no reasons why the American tennis game has really fallen off the map. It is a serious mystery.
What do you all think the issue is?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.