By Nick Georgandis
Sam Querrey was knocked out in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday, but he said that doesn't mean American tennis has gone downhill.
"We're doing our best," Querry said. "I don't think the state of American tennis is poor, you know, I think it's pretty solid if you compare it to most countries. You can argue we're in the top five overall, maybe."
That's one heck of an argument considering no American male has won a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick's U.S. Open crown in 2003.
Granted, 13th-ranked John Isner and 27th-ranked Mardy Fish both had to miss the Australian Open, but Querrey's statements seem a little delusional, the kind made by a guy who grew up on Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras and doesn't realize just how long it's been since those two icons were at the top of their games.
The U.S. might have the best youth academies and the nicest facilities, and between the Williams Sisters, Varvara Lepchenko, and Sloane Stephens (all ranked in the top 30), one could definitely make a case for U.S. women's tennis being in the top 5 in the world, but the men?
Sorry, Sam, but in this case the numbers do not lie.
Besides the three men mentioned above, the highest-ranked American who isn't retired is Brian Baker, currently No. 57. Not a bad rank, but Baker is 27, and he's never been higher than No. 52. Beyond him is the great American hope, Ryan Harrison, ranked No. 62 and 20 years old. Harrison climbed to 43rd in the world last year after Wimbledon, and is the best shot the U.S. has at another great player, but it's tough to load so much pressure on one guy, it's like having a can't-miss pitcher in the minor leagues - the possibility that he might not be the next Nolan Ryan scares you to death.
The last of six active Americans in the Top 100 is Michael Russell at No. 94. Russell was born in 1978. That's all you need to know.
Is that resume good enough for a top 5 program in the world? Let's take a brief spin around the globe and see.
America can't top Spain, which has three of the top 11 and seven of the top 45; France, two in the Top 10, three in the Top 20 and eight in the top 60; Serbia only has three guys in the Top 100, but all are in the Top 40, with one the best player in the world and a second in the Top 10; Argentina, with two guys in the Top 12, one of whom won't be 25 until September, and seven total in the Top 100; the Czech Republic, with No. 6 Tomas Berdych, plus No. 34 Radek Stepanek, and No. 75 Lukas Rosol; or Switzerland, who has the greatest player of all-time and another ranked 17th.
That's already six, and the Americans are at best on par with Russia, with two in the top 40 and two more in the top 85; and Italy, which has two in the Top 50, including No. 23 Andreas Seppi, and six total in the Top 100.
That's not top five, that's clinging to the bottom of the Top 10 -- a spot that Isner, Fish and Roddick before them have been clinging to for the last few years as American men try to stay relevant.
Posted: 1/19/2013 10:39:09 AM