Does US tennis have an issue in the women's game too?
It has been a staggering 20 years since an American man last won a Grand Slam when Andy Roddick triumphed at the US Open in 2003. US tennis has been in a slump since, and Roddick himself was the last man to even reach a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2009. There are talented players on the ATP Tour, but none have risen to the top amid the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal over the last 20 years.
The problem could be starting to spread towards the women’s game too. The top four contenders for the US Open tennis latest odds are from competitors based in Europe, while Jessica Pegula was the player with the best price in the women's Wimbledon 2023 odds before her exit at the quarter-final stage.
Lack Of Success
Since Serena Williams won the last of her 23 Grand Slams at the 2017 Australian Open, only two US players have triumphed, the last of which came in the 2020 Australian Open, while Sloane Stephens lifted the US Open in 2017 after beating her compatriot Madison Keys.
But, there has been a quality issue in competing against the rest of the world. Williams has left a sizable void in a similar manner to Pete Sampras. The drop in quality between the best player of all time and her compatriots is significant, to say the least.
Pegula is the highest-ranked women’s player in the United States, sitting fourth in the WTA World Rankings. And although she has been consistent in the Slams, reaching the quarter-finals in five out of the last seven tournaments, the 29-year-old has not been able to conjure a breakthrough to secure her maiden crown amid the fierce competition at the highest level. Pegula did win the Guadalajara Open to clinch her first WTA 1000 Event win, but her best achievements on the court have come in doubles competitions.
There have been four players to reach the Grand Slam finals out of the United States, including Jennifer Brady and Danielle Collins. Both players made surprising runs at the 2021 and 2022 Australian Open finals respectively but were ultimately beaten by Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty. For so long the US had the dominant player in the game to rely on to sweep up seemingly every major on offer, but the lack of success since her retirement has shown how balanced the game has become across the world.
Even victories on the WTA Tour have been fleeting as Pegula’s win at Guadalajara is the only one in the last year, while only Stephens and Keys have recorded victories in tournaments since 2018 at Miami and Cincinnati.
There’s no reason for US tennis to go into panic stations yet as there is ample talent around, and the women’s game tends to be slightly more unpredictable than the men’s game where Djokovic’s stranglehold has denied numerous upstarts their moment in the sun. But, the drought does need to end sooner rather than later to prevent it becoming an issue as it has done in the men’s game.
As showcased in Netflix’s Break Point, Taylor Fritz put himself under immense pressure ahead of the 2022 US Open only to lose in the first round.
Winning Grand Slams is hard enough without having the expectations of a nation on your shoulders. For a country that has prided itself on success in the world of tennis, it has been far too fleeting of late.
Something needs to change in the near future to prevent a potential tennis crisis in the US.
Cover Credits: Tennisnet.com