Is American tennis on its deathbed?
Gone are the days when the likes of John McEnroe, Andre Agasssi, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors owned the ATP tour. These were unique champions in their own right – Connors was the soft spoken one, McEnroe the loud and aggressive one, Sampras the serve and volley expert, while Agassi added the glam element to the game with his eccentric style of dressing and rockstar-like attitude towards the game.
The period from the late 70s up to the 90s was ruled by US tennis. One would always find an American in the last four of a Grand Slam. But not since Andy Roddick has there been a major champion from the USA. Even Roddick couldn’t go beyond his first Major victory; he had chances to earn more but didn’t really have the all-round game of players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, etc. He relied only on his serve and forehand – a tactic which didn’t win him many matches at the business end of Slams.
The infrastructure is there. The money is definitely present. Talent has always been abundant in American tennis players. Why the sudden demise of American tennis then?
In my opinion, the players in USA lack the killer instinct that at one stage they were renowned for. Look at Rafa or Nole – these two somehow always manage to fight off match points, set points, etc. That’s almost never seen in matches involving American players.
Moreover, the Americans rely too much on their serve and forehand. Just take America’s current No. 1 John Isner; the tall and hard server simply cannot keep up with the top 4-6 players of the world in baseline rallies.
The situation is quite different in the ladies’ section though. Serena Williams is one tough cookie to crack. Her well-built body along with her never-say-die attitude have made her the champion that she is today, and what keep her at the summit of the WTA rankings.
Maybe the young US male tennis players should look up to the likes of Serena and take a leaf out of her book and who knows, one day we may find an American at the top of the ATP rankings. Till then, we’ve just got to sit back and admire the likes of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray.