The Great American Breakdown

There have been cycles of domination in tennis. In the beginning it was the British and the French, and then came the Aussies, followed by the Americans and now the Europeans. With such a continuous cycle running – China is likely to be the next destination, keeping in mind the number of Chinese tennis players coming up on the tour ladders.

The American decline has started. Since the days of Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang and Andre Agassi, the men’s tour has only seen an Andy Roddick and the Bryan brothers winning in the tour consistently and keeping the American flag afloat. In the same vein since the winning ways of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles (after both were accepted by the U.S.) and Jennifer Capriati, only Lindsay Davenport and the William sisters are the saving grace. But even that has been quite inconsistent

The William sisters are never short of surprises and can make some really daring comebacks to win the biggies. But then again, those victories are far and few in between. They have other interests to keep them occupied and at their age, their careers seem to be heading towards retirement in about a few years. Till that time, how many Grand Slams they can collect is anybody’s guess. There is a certain unpredictable quality attached to these sisters which can never allow even the most dismissive critic to discount their chances at big tournaments. They are very injury prone which makes them inflict the tour with their absence. This too adds to their very erratic display of tennis.

Lindsay Davenport delivered some very strong results and then settled into holy matrimony and motherhood. Though on her comeback she has won quite a few low profile tournaments. Her days on the tour are numbered and like the William sisters, she has nothing to prove. She is now playing for herself rather than for the Honours. But after these legendary women, who takes their place? If truth be said, after these ladies – there are no American women here to last in a tour flooded by uncountable Russians, Chinese and the increasing tally of European starlets.

In the men’s side, Andy Roddick is the one to watch out for. But now that he is already in the wrong side of the twenties, his days are numbered on the tour and the opportunities for him to win another Grand Slam have been vanishing with regularity. Giving him company is James Blake, but then again – his one-dimensional power hitting game has seen regular detractors in the tour and has often fallen prey when he should not. He hasn’t had any encouraging performances at the Grand Slams and his winning one is a remote possibility. Few years back he had a shot at glory with a final appearance at the Masters Championship but after that he has hit a plateau.

The Bryan brothers (doubles spaecialist) are also on the late side of the twenties. Though they are the number one pairing in the world and have a very good record at the Grand Slams, they have only a few years left in them, unless they elongate their career. Post those, hardly an Americans are doing well in the doubles circuit.

Looking beyond these obvious names, only a handful forms the men’s side but from the women’s side none approach the mind. John Isner, Sam Querry, Donald Young and some other young players have been getting some positive reviews on their games but their results are not encouraging. Robby Ginepri has had a good result at the French open but he is tremendously inconsistent.

With such a future ahead, the USTA needs to revamp its old ways to get back into the winning mode. With other Asian countries like India, it has a programme to bring about a Grand Slam winner by 2018, China and Japan climbing the ladder with regularity, the American dream of tennis superiority will be short lived and might just have to take a backseat.

Sayan Das

[Image Source:]