American Tennis after the US Open by Jacopo Tezza Another amazing session of the US Open has come to an end and it is time to draw some conclusions from it.
Although most of the tennis fans and non around the world were cheering for Roger Federer (myself included), I must say it was refreshing to see 2 new faces taking over the final act of the last Grand Slam of the year.
It was 2005 last time we had a final without the big 4 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray) in it. This generation of magnificent champions is far from seeing the end of it, but few players are slowly closing the gap that separates them from those top competitors.
I must be honest, Cilic has been a surprise to me.
We all have noticed his remarkable season with the addition of Goran Ivaniseveic in his staff, but raise your hand if you picked him to win the whole tournament. This major achievement in his career can be the first step towards his final maturation process.
We will see now how he deals with the pressure of being one of the favorites. Nishikori has showed his game is up to par to anyone on a given day, but his serve needs to get better if he wants to be a top 5 player on consistent basis.
It is also time to draw some conclusions about American tennis.
The Men’s and Women’s American tennis have never been so far apart. On one side you have Serena Williams adding another major title to her magnificent career, and behind her many young Americans women trying to make a statement for themselves.
On the other side, there were no American players in the 4rd round in the men’s singles draw. This trend is alarming. It has been the case for quite some time now. John Isner has been the only consistent man in the top 20 for the past years, and simply put it is not enough for the American Tennis.
Despite this major down-moment, I believe there is some light at the end of this dark tunnel, but it will take some time. What worries the men’s side is the lack of depth of young top 20 potential kind of talent.
Jack Sock is the number 1 candidate on this list. He has the talent and he has the strength. His serve and his forehand are already top 20 material, but he needs to mature mentally to make the final step. At times, that can be the toughest step but if guided properly Jack can really be a lock in the top 20 in the near future.
The US has experienced great success at the Junior level recently.
Stefan Kozlov and Noah Rubin have done a great job collecting prestigious victories in the Junior Grand Slams tournaments. The transition from junior to pro is not easy though. The game changes, it becomes faster, more physical, more powerful, mentally tougher and more stressful.
History speaks clearly here, telling how not every great junior has gone on to become a great professional tennis player.
Both Stefan and Noah have a lot to work on, but they are on the right track. Next year will be extremely important for both players. Behind these 2, there is Francis Tiafoe, arguably the most talented of all the young American players.
He can generate tremendous power from the baseline and with his serve, he is very athletic and he promises well physically. He is only 16 years old, but there is great potential already. Let’s make sure that the lack of recent success of American Tennis does not put all the pressure on these young guys.
Let’s give them the time to mature, and develop.
Let’s give them the time to make mistakes and learn from it. It would be a mistake demanding too much too soon out them. There is some potential, let’s leave them the chance to express it.
There is not easy fix for the US Tennis, you do not make a champion in a year; it takes talent and years of hard work. Is there a talent for a future number 1 in the world in here? That I am not sure, but this up and coming generation has the potential to be very successful.
The American Women’s tennis is on the opposite side of the scale instead. The future after Serena does not worry as much. Obviously, it is going to be almost impossible to have another Serena (arguably the greatest tennis player of all time), but there is a lot of talent and depth behind her.
Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys are respectively 21 and 19.
They are both steadily in the top 30 already. They already have the game to be top 10 in my opinion. Sloane forehand and movement skills are rare to find in the WTA circuit, while Madison’s serve and power from the baseline are lethal weapons.
Once they acquire the needed experience and maturity they will be ready to win Slams. I can see a rivalry growing with Bouchard in the future with the 3 of them.
The good news for women’s tennis are not over.
Behind Madison and Sloane there are several players that can make a statement next year.
Lauren Davis is only 21, and despite her smaller size, she keeps improving and making a name for herself.
Her fighting skills are as good as they come; her backhand is already top 10 level. Shelby Roger possibly plays the best tennis of all the Americans; beautiful technique with tremendous timing and power. Recently she has found a new comfort level with her tennis and has started to beat several top 50 players.
I really like her chances to be the surprise player of the 2015 year. Coco Vandeweghe is only 23 years old, but looks like she has been around for decades already. She plays big, her serve and her forehand are extremely hard to deal with and when she is on, she is hard to stop.
Christina McHale has also showed good things this year.
I like her professional mentality and the drive to success; she has a solid game and I can see her taking her tennis to the next level this following year. I would like to mention also Jamie Hampton, who was doing great things before running into several injuries.
She has the talent and the drive to return where she was and even better. If this was not enough, there is a very strong generation semi-hiding in the back seat: Taylor Townsend, Alicia Black and CiCi Bellis are same names to look for in the near future.
I particularly like Taylor, who expresses a very entertaining style of play. She has a very atypical game for the women’s tour. She plays extremely well at the net, she can slice and she generates great power from the baseline; her game is going to throw a lot of players off.
Let’s be honest, there is not going to be another Agassi, Sampras, Courier, Martin, Chang and etc.
kind of generation, but it is mandatory to expect more from the USA. Some people say it is the lack of training-structure at the top of the chain. Some people blame it on the lack of talent in this generation and some others on the “soft society which is shaping this new soft-players”.
That is an interesting question that needs some deeper reflections, for now let’s just hope to see some major improvements a year from now. .