In a field absent of U.S. male tennis stars, I looked forward to a great return by Andy Murray. That’s not what we got.
Cutting through the upsetting amount of coverage regarding Serena Williams’ wardrobe choices, there’s some tennis being played at the U.S. Open. I mean, seriously, Serena Williams is a dominant tennis player who was unphased and unbothered by the banning of catsuits in the French Open. If you’re focusing on her attire, you’re kind of missing the point of Serena Williams. Forget the clothes, and gear up for the always exciting matchup of Williams v. Williams tomorrow. One American will advance. One American will lose.
The real travesty of tennis today as an American fan is the complete absence of American male tennis stars. With Tennys Sandgren (currently ranked 61) playing Novak Djokovic (currently ranked 6) in today’s Round of 64, an American advancing from this matchup requires a huge upset. That leaves American Frances Tiafoe (currently ranked 44) playing Australian Alex de Minaur (currently ranked 45) as the USA’s lone chance of getting anything done in this U.S. Open. Tiafoe is the fourth-youngest player to crack the top 50, so his future is potentially bright, but as American fans, that leaves us waiting for a few years.
In the absence of an American great, as an American fan, I feel a sort of kinship to injury-plagued Andy Murray. The 2012 U.S. Open champion had a short run on his Grand Slam return after 14 months, being beaten by the Spanish Fernando Verdasco. Suffering from an injury-prone hip, Murray’s rehab program saw him working on changing his play style to prevent further damage. This primarily meant that Murray, known for his defensive game, had had to shift his focus to an offensive strategy.
Clearly, that didn’t go as planned.
Far from a favorite to win, 31 year-old Murray, prior to this Open, had met Verdasco 14 times, losing only twice. 14 months after a hip surgery, his return delayed several times, the only word to describe this comeback is disappointing. Visibly frustrated throughout the match, shouting an expletive when Verdasco broke the rules, according to Murray, by talking with his coach mid-match, it seems unlikely that Murray will be able to come back from injuries in the style of Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, who are all playing remarkably well, with Nadal and Federer ranked one and two, respectively.
While I’m disappointed in Scottish Andy Murray, I’m more disheartened by the lack of American talent. In recent memory, we have vague recollections of a young Andy Roddick, whose time at the top of the rankings was a short-lived flash in the pan, and no clear star coming up the ranks. Take to the courts, men of the USA. At least we can appreciate the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens, and Madison Keys in the meantime.
By: Dan Burkett