What’s happened to America?
Bobby Reynolds, a 30 year old qualifier, walked onto Centre Court yesterday evening preparing for the match of his life against world number one Novak Djokovic. Unwittingly though, he was not only playing for himself but almost a whole nation as he was, surprisingly, the last American man remaining in the Wimbledon draw.
Unfortunately, the spirit of Darcis and Stakhovsky wasn’t with the game challenger, and he was swiftly dispatched by an efficient Djokovic who restored order to the wacky world of Wimbledon of 2013.
Reynolds’s demise meant that the USA didn’t have a single male player in the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 1912. Granted John Isner’s injury was completely out of the blue, but a nation as ingrained into tennis’s history and landscape shouldn’t be relying on a player ranked outside the top 20 as their best hope for a good run in a tournament.
There are a couple of good players coming through such as Denis Kudla and their brightest hope Jack Sock who reached the third round of the US Open last year. But if you want examples of how things can go wrong, look at Donald Young and Ryan Harrison. These men who were talked up as the next bright light and have simply faded away into the black spectre of the challenger circuit.
In the women’s game things are starting to improve with Sloane Stephens at the forefront, but in the men’s game we know that it now takes a long, long time for a young gun to break into the top 30 for example. So unless Harrison can suddenly find a eureka moment, it’s going to take another half of a decade for the US to have any breakthrough in the quest to find their new male major winner.