James Blake and Michael Chang on the State of American Tennis



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James Blake and Michael Chang on the State of American Tennis

Former World No. 4 James Blake and former French Open champion Michael Chang believe that Frances Tiafoe has the best chance to win a Grand Slam among the current set of American players on the tour. In an interview with Tennishead, when asked who the best bet among the Americans to win a Grand Slam title are, Blake responds, "In my opinion, it’s probably Frances Tiafoe.

I think he’s got the most tools. Right away that puts more pressure on him, so I feel like I probably shouldn’t say that! But he’s a good athlete, he moves really well, he works really hard. I think he still has ways to improve, which makes it exciting for me to see how he gets better and matures and grows on the court”.

Chang agrees that Tiafoe is the best prospect but says others like Jared Donaldson and Tommy Paul also have a shot. “We haven’t had as good a crop of young Americans since our generation. Hopefully, they will continue to mature, continue to grow and continue to improve.

It’s been great to see some of their results and hopefully, we’ll see more and more of that”. Chang says the current generation of American players have less pressure as compared to earlier generations who were compared to the Sampras-Agassi-Courier-Chang era.

He says, “It was probably a little bit unfair to compare them with the previous generations because I don’t know long it will be before you have another generation like ours. Not only did we have Jim, Andre, Pete and me, but you could also include players like Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington.

We had such incredible depth in US men’s tennis. There’s no pressure on them (the current players) to go out there. Nobody’s expecting them to go out there and win championships”. Blake was also of the same opinion.

"I think this generation is similar. Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Frances Tiafoe, Opelka – all those guys get along great. They help each other, they push each other. And whichever way makes you the most successful, I think it does help to have that group mentality.

I think the pressure’s off [the current generation of Americans] until they get into a situation where they’re going to get asked about it. When they get to the quarter-finals or semi-finals of a Grand Slam and there’s more talk about 2003 being the last time this happened, I think there’s going to be a lot more pressure.

Right now there’s a group of them in a similar situation. Once one of them breaks out and becomes the certified star, the one where the hope is put on their shoulders, then it’s going to be a matter of that person really needing to be able to handle that pressure pretty well.

I think overall American tennis is still in a strong position. The Davis Cup team has done fairly well, John Isner has had a lot of good results, when Jack Sock’s healthy he’s had some good results, the young guys coming up, like Tiafoe, Opelka and Fritz, I think they’ve got chances. But it’s going to take a little bit more time”.