Category Archives: US tennis

WIMBLEDON: U.S. Tennis Just Can’t Man Up

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Bobby Reynolds was the last American man standing at Wimbledon

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

So now it’s down to this: Not only aren’t there any U.S. men capable of winning a tennis major, but there aren’t any ready to compete. And there isn’t even a representative to ask about it.

So it falls on some guy named Bobby Reynolds. He was the last American man standing at Wimbledon but lost Thursday to Novak Djokovic. It’s the first time an American man hasn’t reached the third round of Wimbledon since ’12.

That’s 1912, when the Chicago Cubs World Series winless streak was up to … three years. One thing: No American men even entered that year.

“I knew a couple Americans played today,” Reynolds said after his match. “I don’t feel like I’m carrying the U.S. flag, the lone guy left. I just happened to play the last match.”

True enough. So it was bad luck that he had to be the one to turn out the lights. Well, these one-time fluke things happen sometimes. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those

Please read the rest of the column here

 

 


WIMBLEDON: Finally, Reason for Hope for Future of U.S. Tennis (Women Only)

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

By now, two days into a tennis major, the US media usually have rushed in to talk about all the new hope in American tennis. Why the rush? Because the future is now! No, really it’s because in two more days, everyone but Serena Williams usually would be out.

So it’s now or never. And I’m usually ridiculing the rush. But this time, for the first time in years, the hope looks realistic. On the women’s side, that is. With men? Not so much.

On Tuesday, 18-year old American Madison Keys beat young Brit hope Heather Watson, 6-3, 7-5, in the first round. It was Keys’ first match ever at Wimbledon, even though she already is ranked No. 52. And that match probably didn’t draw much attention.

But while everyone is watching Williams and Maria Sharapova (and maybe Victoria Azarenka), a new and very real battle is taking place in the next tier down.

It’s an incredible opportunity for all young players from any country, really. But the news is that the Americans suddenly are in position to consider the opportunity theirs, too.

The women’s tour has a massive quality gap after the top three players.

Please read the rest of the column here at FoxSports.com


OLYMPICS: Andy Roddick’s Career is Stuck. He’s Going to be Great TV Analyst, Though

REPORTING FROM THE LONDON OLYMPICS

WIMBLEDON (Aug. 1) – It’s getting hard to watch Andy Roddick play tennis. You can’t figure out what his spot is anymore. What his role is. Is he the great American tennis star? No. Well, sort of, maybe.

He isn’t going to win another major or get anywhere near the mountaintop again, but he’s still the only men’s player to be a star in U.S. pop culture, married to Brooklyn Decker, swimsuit model. Can he win a big match? Maybe one. He’s not coming, he’s not going. He hasn’t stayed too long, but it’s hard to know what he’s staying for. Maybe he just likes it.

But he’s sort of just suspended there, killing time. And it could go on, uncomfortably, for a while.

“I feel like it’s extremes with me right now,’’ he said after getting crushed Tuesday by Novak Djokovic in the Olympics at Wimbledon. It was 6-2, 6-1 in 54 minutes. “If I win one, it’s like Career Appreciation Day. Then if I lose one, it’s like we should take him out in the field and shoot him in the head.’’

Roddick is going to be a great TV analyst. That’s where he can mean the most to U.S. tennis now, if he brings his sharpness and his brutal honesty with him. You might not know it, but privately he is thoughtful about all sorts of issues. His sarcasm and meltdowns can become selling points for TV, too.

Please read the rest of my column at FoxSports.com


FRENCH OPEN: Yes, Andy Roddick Lost Again. But it’s not His Fault No Other Americans are Good Enough to Boo

Andy Roddick loses again at the French Open

At some point, routines just become ruts. And while watching Andy Roddick in the first round of the French Open Sunday, you might have gotten annoyed at him. Irritated. Frustrated. You were in the rut.

It has been years of feeling that way about Roddick, especially at Roland Garros. But the truth is, it’s time to get off Andy Roddick’s back.

He’s not the present anymore. He’s the past. And it’s not his fault that no other American player has been good enough to move into the present and take the torch of U.S. tennis from him. Roddick, aging, stands there holding it, judged by it.

He lost 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to Nicolas Mahut, the guy known for losing the marathon 2010 Wimbledon match to John Isner, 70-68 in the fifth set. Mahut is 30, and a journeyman. Before Sunday, in his long career, he had won just one match in the main draw of the French Open.

Please read the rest of my column at FoxSports.com


AUSTRALIAN OPEN: U.S. TENNIS, R.I.P.

John Isner, now the best American player

And, poof, just like that, American tennis is gone. No, not just from the Australian Open, where the last American man standing, John Isner, lost before the first weekend of the year’s first major. US tennis is gone from the world map, too.

The top players have faded, and the bottom ones aren’t good enough. This is the moment US tennis has been nervous about for years:

Not one American man is good enough even to contend for a major championship. Forget Wimbledon. Forget the US Open. And only one woman, Serena Williams, is good enough. She will hide the problems in women’s tennis in the United States for a little while longer.

But the men? They are a vacuum.

It has been coming for years. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors passed the baton to Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who passed it to Andy Roddick, who managed to win just one major. But still, he was a top player. And now? Roddick has crossed the finish line and put the baton on the ground somewhere. No one will take it. You want it? It’s yours.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Was this Andy Roddick’s Last Run?

Andy Roddick

Reporting from the U.S. Open for FoxSports.com

FLUSHING, NY – Whatever Andy Roddick is, he’s energy. Either he’s an overachiever reaching No. 1 without much talent or an underachiever winning young and then letting the game pass him by. But he’s emotion.

Either he’s a feisty competitor or a creep, but he’s passion. And that spills over into the crowd, which wants to cheer him on or curse him out. Sometimes both.

Either way is fine with Roddick. With him, everything is an argument.

But on Friday in the world’s biggest tennis stadium, in the world’s loudest city, in the quarterfinals of maybe the world’s most important tournament, the US Open, the crowd did something different.

It sat there quietly while Roddick was crushed by Rafael Nadal.

Crickets.

And it was so strange that it threw Roddick off, made him suspicious about what was going on and why.

“I think you’d rather be booed than have silence,’’ he said after losing 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.

“You know, it’s an empty feeling.’’

The match, as well as the crowd, was the sound of one hand clapping.

And you can’t be certain what thousands of fans are thinking. They might be thinking thousands of things. But they all acted as one, and I’m pretty sure I know why:

American tennis fans felt sorry for Roddick. Not just for the moment, but also for the realization of where his career is. This was Roddick’s last stand. Jimmy Connors’ famous run? Andre Agassi’s? Pete Sampras’?

This was Roddick’s. The last stand for the longtime face of American men’s tennis.

 

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Fairy Tale Over, Donald Young Makes a Real Move

Donald Young

From my column in FoxSports.com:

 

John McEnroe ruined Donald Young. Young’s parents ruined Donald Young. His own bad, lazy attitude ruined him. His agent, IMG? Ruined him. The media: Ruined him. The U.S. Tennis Association?

Ruined Donald Young.

Young has been a study in all the different ways to screw up an American tennis phenom. He was supposed to be tennis’ Tiger Woods. By 2007, The New York Times dubbed him a failure with a story in its Sunday magazine entitled: “Prodigy’s End.”

He was 17 at the time.

But the last, last, last straw didn’t come until this spring, when things dropped so far that Young wrote on his Twitter account: “F— USTA” and they’re “full of s—.” Only he didn’t use dashes.

So it’s a little hard to figure out how Young, now 22, is the story of this year’s US Open, after Serena Williams that is. He has beaten two seeded players to reach the fourth round, the final 16. He beat Stan Wawrinka in a classic fifth-set tiebreaker, tennis’ ultimate test of mind, body and guts. Tuesday, he’s scheduled to play No. 4 Andy Murray for a spot in the quarterfinals.

“Everybody’s light comes on at their own time,” Young said. “Hopefully, mine is coming on now.”

These phenom stories are all mapped out. Either a sudden emergence, or a straight arrow to the top. Anything less is how a 17-year old winds up being labeled a failure.

There has always been too much reality in Donald Young’s fairy tale. Is it possible to take all the wrong steps to the mountaintop?

Please read the rest of this column on FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: From Hardest Moment, Sloane Stephens Rises on Biggest Stage

From my column at FoxSports.com

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens tweets about her nails, about arguing with her brother, about debating with her mom over what kind of car to buy. Typical 18-year-old things. But Stephens, the American tennis hopeful, also loves to deliver short-order philosophies in 140 characters or less:

“Count your blessings, not your worries.’’

And: “Things fall apart so that other things can fall together.’’

Her little daily affirmations would make a Hallmark card writer proud.

But on Thursday night, after her breakthrough victory in the US Open — 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), over 23rd seed Shahar Peer — her words came straight from her heart:

“2 years without you here with me, I miss you dad! I know your always with me! You would have been so proud of me today! I love you.’’

The US Open is always going to be a conflicted place for Stephens.

She is the daughter of former New England Patriots running back John Stephens, who died in a car accident two years ago this week, days before his daughter would play at her first Open.

“I still think about that,’’ she said recently. “Like I say, I played on Court 11 when I came back from the funeral, and it was crazy. I don’t even know how I played.

“I woke up. I came back late at night. I woke up the next morning and played the second or third match on. It was crazy. Like the emotions and everything were crazy.’’

The story is deeper.
Please read the rest of the column here


U.S. OPEN: One Last Run Left for Venus Williams? No. Great American Tennis Story About Done

From my column at FoxSports.com

 

We’re not ready for tennis’ Great American Story to end. Venus Williams deserves one last good run, one more major championship, one more leap of glory.

She’s not going to get it.

Williams is 31 years old, a senior citizen to tennis, and her body is breaking down. Injuries and health issues are taking her away from the game. On Wednesday, she withdrew from the US Open an hour before her second-round match against young German Sabine Lisicki, a Wimbledon semifinalist.

She later issued a statement saying she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, “an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue, but right now I am unable to.”

She said she was just glad to finally know what’s wrong. With Sjogren’s, which usually affects women, white blood cells attack healthy glands. The disease is manageable.

But Williams’ body is betraying her now. It’s that time. And it’s just so hard for any athlete, especially a superstar, to accept. That body has always done what it was supposed to do, climbed every mountain, won every Wimbledon. It was there to be counted on, perfected.

Now, Williams has lost nearly two years of tennis because of it. She will drop out of the top 100 in the rankings, mixed in with a group of players no one has ever heard of.

Please read the rest of the column here


U.S. OPEN: Is American Tennis Crazy to Bank on Mr. Crankypants, Ryan Harrison?

 

 

Ryan Harrison kicks a field goal at the US Open

 

The future of American tennis threw his racquet into a tree at the French Open qualifying tournament this summer. He took a divot out of the grass court at Wimbledon qualifying. In Cincinnati, he angrily hit a ball over the stands, out of the stadium and into the food court.

“I mean, I wasn’t like out of control when I hit it,’’ he told me at the time. “I wasn’t in a frenzy.’’

No frenzy in Savannah, either, where he called his opponent, Wayne Odesnik, a weasel (truth is no defense)? Or in Winston-Salem, where he threw his racquet into a parking lot? Or on Monday, when he threw the racquet at least half a dozen times and kicked a ball into the stands while losing to 27th seed Marin Cilic in the first round of the U.S. Open? It was 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6). On Tennis Channel, Mary Carillo called Harrison Mr. Crankypants.

“I didn’t break any racquets,’’ he said. “I didn’t say swear words on court. I didn’t really go nuts.’’

Are we nuts to be counting on this guy as a great American hope? Continue reading


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