Last weekend, I was watching the Wimbledon Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. It turned out to be a great 5 set match that Djokovic won for his 7th Grand Slam title. I didn’t care who won, but was leaning towards Federer to win number 18.
It was awesome tennis and fun to watch. We’re living in an age now where there are these 4 great tennis players – Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal – who seem to be winning all the majors.
Here’s a stat for you. Since 2004, there have been 43 Grand Slam tournaments and the winner of those tournaments have been one of those four players in all but 4 of them.
None have been an American though.
The last American winner was Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open and Andre Agassi won the 2003 Australian Open earlier that year.
11 years without an American winning a Grand Slam tournament. That is the longest drought in like forever. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Williams sisters American tennis for both genders would be sucking big time. American tennis is clinging to the Williams sisters last years of playing and hoping that someone, anyone, will be able to fill the void.
This year in Wimbledon an American male didn’t advance to the third round for the first time since 1912. 1912??!! And that year Americans didn’t even play in Wimbledon.
Why can’t Americans make it in tennis now?
The most obvious reason, and you could use this for a few sports especially soccer, is that the best athletes are not playing tennis. They are playing football, basketball, baseball, probably soccer, and maybe a few others before they start playing tennis.
Tennis is an international sport. A quarterback isn’t having to compete against quarterbacks from other countries. Plus, tennis is more valued in a lot of other countries than ours. Thus, it goes back to the best athletes choosing to play other sports.
Another reason that can’t be taken lightly is that tennis is deemed a “country club” sport. Basically, in order to get good at tennis you need to have some money to pay for equipment, but more importantly get coached up effectively. I can go outside and shoot hoop all day and get better there. Doesn’t cost anything. Or throw a football with someone and practice routes with another person.
Tennis is tough. I had a tennis court at my house and we played basketball on it. I still can’t serve a tennis ball real well. You need coaching and that costs money which some of the better athletes who have an interest in tennis might not have. My slice sucks. My topspin is awful. I could practice that for years on my own and probably not get any better.
Nick Bollettieri has been credited for coaching up some of the biggest names in tennis at a young age – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Jim Courier. A lot of them played at his tennis academy while growing up. Bollettieri said the secret to their greatness was being able to get all the best young junior tennis players training at one place and beat the sh!t out of each other.
There’s a thought. Does that even happen anymore?
I don’t know what the answer is, but American tennis might be going the way of the dodo bird. You hear every so often, “oh there are some good young American tennis players on the rise.” But then nothing happens.
11 YEARS?? And if you don’t count the Williams sisters (which I know you can’t), but if you did that drought is even longer for female Americans.
It doesn’t bother me much. I enjoy watching these great players play regardless of what country they are from. But, it would be nice to see an American in the fray on a consistent basis. Just one! Is that so much to ask?