Latest Stories

Tennis: Decade after Roddick, US men stuck in Slam drought

John Isner, from the United States, returns a shot from Juan Martin Del Potro, from Argentina, during a semi-final match at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Mason, Ohio. AP

NEW YORK CITY – American men’s tennis, once the envy of the world with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi atop a generation of stars, has not produced a Grand Slam singles champion in 10 years.

Serena Williams is the women’s world number one while Mike and Bob Bryan top the doubles rankings and own all four Slam titles plus Olympic gold, but not since now-retired Andy Roddick won the 2003 US Open has a US man won a Slam singles crown.

The top American men’s hope when the US Open begins Monday will be 14th-ranked John Isner, a big-serving 2.08m standout who has been ranked as high as ninth and who won last month in Atlanta and reached finals earlier this month at Cincinnati and Washington.

“I don’t feel an extra amount of pressure,” Isner said of his status as the US number one. “American fans need to temper their expectations given how deep the game is today. Given how long it takes players to develop these days, you have got to give us a little time.”

It’s a hefty legacy to uphold. Sampras won 14 Slam singles titles. Agassi captured eight. Jim Courier took four and Michael Chang won the 1989 French Open and reached three other Slam finals. And Todd Martin reached two Grand Slam finals.

“I don’t see us dominating again soon,” said American James Blake, a former world number four now ranked 100th in the world.

“The generation of Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang and Martin – I don’t think anyone will see that. I think American fans got spoiled with that.”

At Wimbledon, no US man reached the third round, the worst American showing there since 1912. And on August 12, there was no US man in the world top 20 for the first time since the ranking system began in 1976.

“Just one week. I mean, it happens. I don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Sam Querrey, the US number two at 29th in the rankings.

“We just didn’t do well enough to get as many points to get up there. I don’t really have a good reason.”

American Ryan Harrison, ranked 97th in the world, uses such numbers as inspiration to work harder.

“It’s something that can fire you up,” he said.

Roddick retired after a fourth-round loss at last year’s US Open. He reached four Slam finals after his 2003 US Open win, losing each to Federer.

“We miss Andy for sure,” said Mardy Fish, who reached ninth in the world but has battled heart issues the last two years. “There’s no doubt some guys need to step up.”

The past decade of men’s tennis has been dominated by Roger Federer, whose first Slam title came at Wimbledon in 2003, plus 12-time Slam winner Rafael Nadal, six-time Slam winner Novak Djokovic and reigning US Open and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

“It has been a while since anyone has won a Slam outside of the ‘Big Four.’ We’re in a time where a few guys are dominant,” Blake said.

“I feel like American tennis is doing fine. John won another tournament, Sam was in the top 20 and we have the best doubles team in the world.”

The Bryans, 15-time Slam winners in doubles, are trying to become the first doubles team to complete a calendar year Slam sweep since Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951, the only men’s duo to achieve the feat.

“They are the greatest team of all time,” said Serbian doubles standout Nenad Zimonjic. “If they do it, it will be an unbelievable achievement.”

But it won’t be a singles Slam crown.

Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, whose 2009 US Open title was the only Slam crown since the 2005 Australian Open not claimed by the current “Big Four,” sees hope for the future.

“Isner won in Atlanta and nobody wants to play against him,” Del Potro said. “Maybe in the future, with the young players, (Americans) can have another Grand Slam champion.”

He could be 15-year-old Macedonian-born American Stefan Kozlov, who made his ATP debut last month at Newport.

“He’s going to be really good,” Harrison said. “I’m 100 percent sure he’s going to make some impressions on the tour. I don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen, but he can play.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Andre Agassi , Andy Roddick , Athletics , John Isner , Pete Sampras , Sports , Tennis

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays lose to Vietnam, try to salvage 7th place
  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Marketplace