American men's tennis drought not as bad as you think -- it's worse
When it comes to the appeal of American men's tennis, there is no set standard for the public. Over the course of the Open Era, we've embraced class (
Truth be told, though, I can think of better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching
(Not really. That matchup was unspeakably horrid. Perhaps
There's nothing inherently wrong with Isner and Querrey, impressively ranked 21st and 22nd in the world, respectively, after Querrey's 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory. If you've seen enough of
It's just that there's nothing ... there. The serves are massive, but the groundstrokes -- while perfectly decent -- pale in comparison to the Cilics, Del Potros and Murrays of the world (to mention Federer would be, as always, cruel). This match was utterly devoid of artistry, and while that isn't a prerequisite for greatness -- think
It's probably a good thing that Isner and Querrey will comprise the heart of the American Davis Cup team scheduled to play Serbia in the first round March 5-7. That's the best way to get in tune with a player's passion, patriotism and sense of the occasion. It's just that, to me, the U.S. is no closer to a singles champion in the majors than it has been over the past six years, or since Roddick had his fleeting ascent at the 2003 U.S. Open.
Blake has tossed out too many disappointments, at all the wrong times, to be considered a serious contender. Give Roddick a ton of credit for his relentless competitiveness, absolutely battling his heart out in every single match when a lesser man, haunted by the spectre of Federer and some hard-to-fathom defeats, would be winding it down. But he's not going to win the French. Federer will take care of Wimbledon. There are way too many hardcourt threats for Roddick to win seven straight matches at Flushing Meadows. Then the cycle starts all over again, and at 27, Roddick and his rocket-serving right arm are running out of time.
In 1982, there were 43 American men in the top 100, and now there are eight, with Roddick on top at No. 8. The bottom four -- No. 68
Asked about America's bleak prospects recently, Roddick countered, "I would disagree strongly with that. Isner's been playing great recently, and he's shown in the last couple of Grand Slams that he's able to compete. Sam started a bit slow, but you see his ranking's moving up. And I have confidence in James to get back."
Sampras, interviewed at roughly the same time, countered, "It's a little thin. A down cycle right now. The game has spread all around the world, and players are showing up from everywhere. It might take five, 15, 20 years for the U.S. to get back -- hard to tell. I think people got pretty spoiled in the '90s, when there was me, Andre and
Rare, for certain, and don't forget
First it was
Put simply: As long as most of us have been alive, the United States has been a force in men's tennis, always with at least two unquestioned giants of the game. Today, we have none. Most insiders believe that among those who have played at least one professional tournament, there isn't a single man or boy capable of reaching that status.
By the way, on behalf of
That, friends, is a generation.