There are eight American men in the ATP’s top 100 rankings, four in the top 50 and only one in the top 20. What’s the deal?
Let’s look at how the U.S. men have played so far in 2016:
Twenty five years ago, serving ruled the sport. The top servers were the top ranked players—Edberg, Courier, Becker, Stich, Lendl, Sampras, Forget—the men who dominated with their serves dominated the rankings. Not anymore.
Today it’s the players who can return serve that occupy the top of the rankings and that is where the American men falter. Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Nadal, Nishikori, Gasquet are six of the top 10 in the rankings that are in the top 10 in return games won on Tour in 2016.
Taylor Fritz is the one bright spot so far for the U.S. men in 2016 so far. The 18-year-old reached the final of the Memphis Open in February, losing to Nishikori—his first career final on the ATP Tour. He followed that up with a quarterfinal showing in Acapulco where he lost to fellow American Sam Querrey. Fritz started the year ranked No. 174 in the world and is already in the top 75 (improving over 100 places) in less than five months.
John Isner continues to be the most one-dimensional player in men’s tennis. His serve is right at the top of the game and his return of serve lands at the other end of the spectrum.
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