American tennis is in a dire
state at the moment and, with the exception of the Williams sisters, there is
not a lot to interest even the most ardent tennis fan.
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, and that is pretty galling.
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
There is no point in other countries pointing and
laughing - the sport desperately needs to have top American players in both the
men and women's games.
The most alarming thing is that the popularity of the
sport is fast diminishing in the States, and that is largely due to there being
a real shortage of inspiring role models around at the moment.
Roddick must be credited with almost single-handedly
carrying the mantle for American men's tennis over the last few years, and his
consistency has been hugely impressive.
Considering there is not much to his game apart from his
enormous serve, it is all the more staggering that he has managed to remain in
the upper echelons of the game for so long.
The other factor which so endeared him to the American
public was his big personality and marketability which made him the chat-show
dream and boosted his popularity and profile beyond measure.
John Isner and Sam Querrey both
have the potential to make a big impact at Wimbledon one year with their big
frames and big games, but that is really clutching at straws.
I thought Isner may have gone a
long way in SW19 this year and, but for his epic record-breaking match, he
might well have.
The fact is, however, neither
Querrey nor Isner have the potential to be real role models in America due to
their understated manners and relatively low profiles.
Mardy Fish is very marketable
with his good looks and gregarious personality but, due to his ranking being
outside the top 10, he will never have the same impact as Roddick has.
The Williams sisters are a
national treasure in America and rightly so, and the hope is just that the pair
can continue to mask the country's shortcomings for another three or four
That may buy a few young and
emerging players to make their presence known but, if the experts in America
are to be believed, there is a dearth of talent which makes the situation all
the more saddening.