Tramlines: End of the line for USA?
Eurosport - Mon, 09 Aug 19:37:00 2010
Andy Roddick's loss in the third round in Washington last week ensured that there are no American men ranked in the world's top 10 for the first time.
It is 37 years ago that the world ranking system was devised and since then a long line of Americans have reached the higher echelons of the game.
But as if Roddick tumbling out of the top 10 wasn't bad enough, American heartache was compounded by the fact that no home talent reached the last eight in Washington for the first time in the tournament's 41-year history.
The US now have just six men ranked inside the top 100, only two in the top 20, and it has been an incredible 27 Grand Slams since Roddick became the last American man to win a major - at the US Open back in 2003.
A quick look at the women's rankings show much the same problem with only five women inside the top 100. In fact, excluding the Williams sisters who are surely just enigmas, the highest ranked player is teenager Melanie Oudin down in 45th.
So is this just an inevitable lull in American tennis, or is it a symptom of something more sinister, something deeper?
In Tramlines's opinion it's more of the former than the latter.
Sure, the heady days of Agassi and Sampras's battle at the very top are long gone but the US's current slump is not due to a lack of talent.
Nor is it due to a lack of youngsters coming through as Sam Querrey and John Isner are finally coming good and look set to challenge for titles for some time yet.
It's unfortunate for the Americans that they live in a time when two of the greatest ever players - you know who they are - are at their peak. And quite simply, no-one can compete with that.
That's not to say the players should absolve themselves of all responsibility - the American style of play has a fair amount to do with a big serve. It's present in all of their games these days - Roddick, Querrey, Isner, Dent. Even Fish, Blake and Russell have big serves, although not quite so big as some of their compatriots.
These guys are solid players and obviously considerably better than the majority of the world could ever hope to be, Tramlines included, but solid simply isn't enough when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal exist in the world.
You need flair, genius and an all-round game that boasts no weakness whatsoever. Hard work can only get you so far, which is unfortunately America is finding out at the moment.
A spot of complacency is perhaps also to blame as the USTA basked in the glory of the Sampras-Agassi era and failed, early enough, to look beyond the end of their careers and that of Roddick, who was already in place to succeed them.
Yes,it’s a slump, and yes, it's no doubt concerning for the powers that be in American tennis. But no, it's not as terminal as some would have you believe.
Getting as many young players a possible involved in the USTA will eventually pay dividends. It’s simply going to take time.
The top six men remain the same but there's a fair bit of change lower down the top 10 with Tomas Berdych swapping places with the injured Juan Martin Del Potro in seventh and eighth. Fernando Verdasco also moves up one place to ninth, as does Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while Roddick drops those two places to 11th.
Further down the order, Marcos Baghdatis jumps back up into the top 20 after contesting the final in Washington, while David Nalbandian rockets 72 places up the rankings to 45 having picked up the Washington title.
It’s a similar story over in the women's game where the top 10 are unchanged apart from Agenieszka Radwanska and Vera Zvonareva switching places in ninth and 10th respectively.
Svetlana Kuznetsova is the week's big mover as she finds herself back in the top 20, at 14th to be precise, courtesy of her first title in almost 10 months in San Diego.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Winner: "Thought if I watch Titanic that it will make me sleep in like 0,000004 seconds.The ship will start to sink soon and I am still AWAKE..sigh". - Janko Tipsarevic, it turns out, is NOT a fan of the late-90's disaster movie.
Runner-up: "New #ATP Rankings=No Top 10 Americans. Who is to blame? Or is there anyone to blame? More importantly... how to fix it?" - Amer Delic ponders the big question of the week - yes, we know, a shameless bit of support for subject of this article!
Wooden spoon: "Look how cool are the sneakers that Adidas made me for winning the World Cup! Do you like them?" - Tramlines wasn't aware you were part of the World Cup-winning Spanish team Fernando Verdasco.
A-BOG v A-BOG
Alex Bogdanovic was in action in a Vancouver challenger last week, but lost in the first round to American Lester Cook. Bogdanovic took the first set 6-3 before squandering that advantage and going on to lose 3-6 6-2 7-6(5).
Alex Bogomolov Jr on the other hand opted to try and qualify for Washington. However, in true A-Bog style, the American also lost his first match, going down 7-5 6-2 to compatriot Ryan Sweeting (who, by the way, went on to make the third round of the tournament proper before losing to Fernando Verdasco).
So who gets this week's point, I hear you cry. Well, quite frankly, both of these results are so disappointing that Tramlines refuses to reward mediocrity any longer and is taking the decision that neither player should get the point this week. So the standings will remain the same.
Standings: A-Bog (US) 12-10 A-Bog (GB)
The run-in to the US Open gets properly underway this week as the men's tour moves to Toronto for the sixth Masters Series tournament of the year, aka the Rogers Cup.
All the big names are involved with the exception on Juan Martin Del Potro, who remains on the sidelines as he struggles to recover from that pesky wrist injury.
For the women, it's Cincinnati that is attracting all the top players, although both Serena and Venus Williams are skipping the event as they battle foot and knee injuries respectively. World number five Sam Stosur is also not in attendance as she was forced to withdraw after picking up an arm injury in San Diego.