I wanted to wait a few days before posting this to let the dust settle from Saturday’s men’s matches at the U.S. Open, most of them featuring current, future and possible stars of men’s U.S. Tennis. While some have commented that a shift is underway, I actually think the status quo will stick around for some time.
While Jesse Witten’s improbable run from the qualies into the third round of the Open and Taylor Dent’s remarkable comeback from back surgery were the feel good stories of the first week, it’s highly unlikely either of them will ever break into the top fifty. Robby Ginepri’s woes continue despite a nice title win in Indianapolis and few expect another semifinal Grand Slam run from him.
James Blake, who is coming back from a foot injury, was probably hoping for a nice run at the Open to get him back into the groove. But his loss in three sets to Tommy Robredo, in spite of a very late start time, does not bode well for his future. Blake, despite having a solid career, will never win a Grand Slam. He may hang around the top thirty for awhile, but he will really need to get to another level to reach the top ten again. And it’s shame because of any of the top players, Blake had all the gifts to really be number one. But, for whatever reason, it was not meant to be.
Despite John Isner’s dramatic breakthrough win against Andy Roddick, you have to realize that at 24, Isner is just now finding his game. His consistency and fitness is getting better as evidenced by his five set win, but it’s unlikely he will play every match serving 38 aces. Unless his forehand and/or serve and volley game become a major weapon, he will end up like Ivo Karlovic, a tough serving opponent, but someone who never gets past the quarters of big events.
Sam Querrey has had a great summer and is on the cusp of entering the top twenty. Whereas his serve and movement have improved, he still needs that something “extra” that the very top players have. I don’t know if Querrey has that yet. Maybe he will be like Andy Murray who matured and developed a stronger serve and great defensive skills. Querrey is only 21 so he still has time. He will probably be the American number two for a very long time.
Which leaves the American number one Andy Roddick. 2009 will go down as a great yet disappointing year for Roddick. Despite improved results, including reaching another Wimbledon final, Roddick still yearns for that elusive second Grand Slam title. Will 2010 finally be the breakthrough year? Maybe. Let’s put it this way. Andy Roddick is in amazing shape and barring injury will probably stay in the top ten for many years. But so will Roger Federer. And we all know how that matchup has gone.
Whether you love or hate Roddick, he will be the face of American men’s tennis for quite some time. What he does during then will be entirely up to him.