Monday, August 9, 2010

The Doldrums Continue For U.S. Men's Tennis

Sooner or later it had to happen.

This week marks the first time in 37 years (or since the computer rankings began) that an American men's tennis player is NOT in the Top 10. Andy Roddick, the lone viable American in the past few years, fell to No. 11 in the latest rankings, issued today.

Don't get me wrong, No. 11 is still good, but the fact that no American is in the Top 10 speaks volumes for the state of American men's tennis.

Roddick has been America's lone wolf for quite some time now, taking the baton from Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. He held the No. 1 ranking for a respectable 13 weeks from Nov. 3, 2003 to Feb. 1, 2004.

Roddick relinquished the No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer on Feb. 2, 2004 and thus began the most dominant era in tennis history for Federer. Federer would hold the No. 1 ranking for an incredible 237 consecutive weeks (from Feb. 2, 2004 to Aug. 17, 2008). Then on August 18, 2008, the Rafael Nadal era made it's first appearance. Nadal first held the No. 1 ranking for 46 weeks, then gave it back to Federer for 48 weeks and currently has held it for the past 11 weeks.

But throughout the Federer-Nadal era, Roddick has maintained himself in the Top 10, until this week. An early third round exit in his last tournament (The Legg Mason Tennis Classic) pretty much meant an exit out of the Top 10 for Roddick.

But it's not all Roddick's fault. Good players have been an endangered species here in the U.S. for the past few years. Roddick has pretty much held the fort for American men for the past 7 years. Besides him, James Blake had a decent run in the Top 10 from 2006 to early 2009, but Blake, who is 30 years old, has faded in the last year and a half and is currently out of the Top 100. So it's safe to say, at his age, Blake's days of being viable are over.

Roddick himself turns 29 soon, so his days are numbered also. In the world of tennis, once you pass 28, you're pretty much in "Jamie Moyer" territory.

And looking down the line, there are a couple of Americans who are pretty decent-- John Isner, currently No. 19; Sam Querrey, currently No. 21 and Mardy Fish, currently No. 34. The three have combined to win 7 tournaments this year, albeit, none have been Grand Slam tournaments. Their poor performances in Grand Slam events has prevented them from making a push into the Top 10.

Fish at 28, has gone as far as he's going to go. I wouldn't count on him taking the baton from Roddick. Isner, at 25, hasn't shown he's the guy either and his clock is ticking. In tennis, if at 25 all you've mustered is a No. 19 ranking, then chances are you're not a future No. 1 player.

So I guess Querrey, who's only 22, is America's next great hope. Of the combined seven titles won by all 3 this year, Querrey has won 4 of them, so I think he's worth keeping an eye on.

But like I said, neither Querrey, Fish nor Isner have made any significant noise in any of the 4 Grand Slam events over their careers and until one of them does, the weight of American men's tennis is still on Roddick's shoulders.

And based on his performances in his last few tournaments, it seems like it's getting to heavy for Roddick also.

So in the upcoming U.S. Open we shall see exactly where American men stand--

And right now, Querrey is our guy. I just wonder if he knows that?

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Andy Roddick photo courtesy of Life Magazine

1 comment:

  1. Top 10 latest ATP Tennis Rankings

    1. Rafael Nadal,Spain,10,925 points

    2. Roger Federer, Switzerland, 7,215

    3. Novak Djokovic, Serbia, 7,085

    4. Andy Murray, Britain, 5,305

    5. Robin Soderling, Sweden, 4,830

    6. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia, 4,195

    7. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic, 3,950

    8. Fernando Verdasco, Spain, 3,430.

    9. Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina, 3,170

    10. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, United France, 3,095
    (As on August 16, 2010)