As I watched Novak Djokovic defeat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, I wondered how many of my friends know who either of these men are. A few of my sports-fanatic friends did indeed know who each was; however most struggled to connect name with sport. Surprisingly, many mentioned they knew some old-timers such as Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Why did they know these men? Answer: They’re Americans. What’s different about these Americans than the ones playing today? Answer: They’re winners.
As Americans, we want our own to win tennis championships similar to how we want the red, white, and blue to win gold at the Olympics. We take great pride in our home of the brave! Christina Aguilera knows what I’m talking about. Anyway, regarding tennis, there are four “grand slam” tournaments every year – the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open. To win just one of these tournaments brings along adulation and respect only reserved for those very elite athletes.
Now, there are many American tennis players that have been relatively successful recently, such as Mardy Fish, John Isner, and James Blake. But none of these men have the celebrity status and expectations that Andy Roddick has. In 2000, he started his men’s singles career with a bang as he came off a #1 world ranking for juniors. Just three years later, he gave the U.S. what they wanted (and on their home-court) when he won the U.S. Open. He attained – once again – the #1 world ranking but this time for men. Excitement spread throughout America as this new hotshot captured the attention of many households. Roddick even received many Sportsman of the Year nominations by different organizations. However, within 4 short months, Roger Federer had taken over the reins as the master of the tennis world. Roddick has always remained in or close to the top 10 rankings in the time since his 2003 victory. Yet, he has not won a single Grand Slam tournament since that monumental day.
Andy Roddick’s Grand Slam results from the past 5 years:
|2007||Semis-lost to Federer||1st round||Quarters||Quarters-lost to Federer|
|2008||3rd round||DNA||2nd round||Quarters-lost to Djokovic|
|2009||Semis-lost to Federer||4th round||Finals-lost to Federer||3rd round|
|2010||Quarters||3rd round||4th round||2nd round|
|2011||4th round||DNA||3rd round||TBD|
It’s painful to admit, but when Roddick has to play against the big boys on the big stage, he crumbles faster than LeBron James in the fourth quarter. By continuing to tease us with his greatness and becoming nothing more than “potential,” Roddick is suffocating American interest in tennis. Now look, I know I might come across as a Roddick-hater but that’s not the case at all. He has unluckily been playing tennis during a time that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have combined to be 26 of the last 33 grand slam champions – that’s pure dominance. I wish Roddick could’ve been the athlete we all wanted him to be, and I hope maybe he still can be. But unfortunately, we aren’t interested in seeing our guys be consistently…well, inconsistent! This is because without a dependable, strong, U.S.A. player in these individualistic-type sports, we tend to lose interest. Just look at Tiger Woods. As Tiger began to emerge as a dominant force, households began to follow golf. People watched tournaments simply to see him play! However, ever since those unfortunate events late in 2009, Tiger has become fairly irrelevant, and interest in golf has suffered greatly. (Although, there appears to be a sliver of light as fascination grows for the young Rory McIlroy, but it is undoubtable that interest in golf is far from what it used to be.)
Because of my brother’s interest in playing and watching tennis, I started watching at an early age. It’s a fast-paced game that requires speed, quick reactions, and power. I love it. Unfortunately, it is considered by almost all as a “minor sport” behind many others. Today, it’s practically impossible for a tennis match to upstage an NFL game. So, if Roddick is indeed our key American competitor, and he keeps falling short at critical times, then there is little chance professional tennis will catch fire here in the States. As an admirer of the sport, I just hope somebody can fill the void and blast an ace for America – and the world – instead of Roddick’s persistent double fault.
Ignite the Site!