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Michael Chang believes the current generation of American male players is the strongest since the 90s

04 Dec 2019, 23:27 IST

Frances Tiafoe
Frances Tiafoe

What's the story?

Speaking with Tennishead, former French Open champion Michael Chang expressed optimism about American tennis. He also described the 90s as the golden era of American men's tennis, and said it's not fair to expect the current generation of players to repeat that kind of success.

In case you didn't know...

During the 1990s, USA enjoyed virtually unchallenged dominance over the tennis world. As well as having 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras leading men's tennis, the country also boasted the likes of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Chang himself.

Pete Sampras (L) and Andre Agassi
Pete Sampras (L) and Andre Agassi

When Andy Roddick won his first and only Grand Slam in 2003, it appeared that American tennis was going to seamlessly transition from the Sampras-Agassi era. That did not happen. No one from Roddick's generation was able to loosen the Big 3's stranglehold over the big tournaments.

The heart of the matter

Chang talked about the post-90s period and suggested that the pressure placed on young American players to eclipse his era's success may have been too much for them.

“It was probably a little bit unfair to compare them with the previous generations because I don’t know long it will be before you have another generation like ours,” Chang said.
“Not only did we have Jim, Andre, Pete and me, but you could also include players like Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington. We had such incredible depth in US men’s tennis," he added.
Michael Chang
Michael Chang

He further talked about how America's long fall from grace has taken away the level of pressure that Roddick's generation faced.

"There’s no pressure on them (the current players) to go out there. Nobody’s expecting them to go out there and win championships," he said.

Chang also hailed the current generation of American male tennis players by saying:

“We haven’t had as good a crop of young Americans since our generation. Hopefully, they will continue to mature, continue to grow and continue to improve."

What's next?

There are undoubtedly several good players in the current generation of American men's tennis. The likes of Frances Tiafoe, Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz have been making some noise on the tour lately, and many expect them to challenge for Slams in the future.

That said, it still appears as though European players will continue to dominate the men's game in the near future. NextGen players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev are all from Europe, and they are the ones winning Masters tournaments right now.

Nevertheless, it cannot be overstated how important America is as a tennis nation. It will only be good for the sport if they can create another men's champion in the future, however distant it may be.

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