Robby Ginepri, the last American standing at this year’s French Open, was sent packing today with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss to Fernando Gonzalez. It’s not like there were very many good Americans in the tourney anyway. The US men had 10 singles players (with only James Blake seeded) in the field of 128, and the US women had 9 singles players (with only the Williams sisters seeded) out of 128 ladies. The other top ranked mens player, Andy Roddick, didn’t even play in Paris this year, as he recovers from an injury.
As the NY Times, reports, “the depth of the European presence at Roland Garros this year is unprecedented. Of the players in the fourth round of singles, 30 of 32 were European, including all 16 women, which is a first at any Grand Slam event since the Open era began in 1968.”
So, what is the reason for the poor showing of Americans in Paris? Well, there are three main factors:
– The first, which we detailed last week, is the fact that Americans generally train on hard courts, which makes it difficult for them to adapt to the style of play required for clay courts.
– The second, which the NY Times nails above, is that tennis is getting more and more popular in other countries. Places like Serbia and Latvia were always focued on sports like hockey, backetball, and soccer — but they have recently begun to produce top tennis players. In fact, three of Serbia’s stars advanced to the quarterfinals on Sunday, including the mens number 3 seed, Novak Djokovic.
– The final reason the outlook for American tennis is gloomy is because the US tennis programs simply aren’t producing the same level of talent as our European counterparts. Rodney Harmon, the director of menâ€™s tennis for the United States Tennis Associationâ€™s elite-player-development program said, “We hope to turn it around in the next three to five years. I think itâ€™s cyclical. Weâ€™re working at it, quietly, peacefully every day.â€