February 14, 2009

The Hard-Hitting Heartthrobs

In the spirit of Valentine's Day -- or something like it -- I've dediced to dedicate today's post to my American boys.

The U.S. men had a spotty showing in Australia. While Andy Roddick made it to the semifinals and the Bryan brothers took home the doubles title, other supposed standouts found it more difficult to advance. The second best American, my dear James Blake, made it to the fourth round before being ousted in straight sets, and upstart Sam Querrey, who'd made it to the finals in Auckland just the week before, was stopped short in the first round by Philipp Kohlschreiber.

This week in San Jose, though, the top U.S. players were on their home turf, ready to show their stuff. In a draw of thirty-two players, ten were American-born and they claimed five of the eight seeds. Roddick was hoping to win his fourth title at the SAP Open and Blake was looking to take his first championship in over a year. The two put in a strong showing early and, by the weekend, they along with Mardy Fish -- who defeated former champ Lleyton Hewitt in the first round -- had earned three of the semifinal spots.

It's been a while since U.S. men were at the top of their game. The last time an American has won a Grand Slam was in 2003 when Roddick beat Juan Carlos Ferrero at Flushing Meadows. Compare that to the 1990s when Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and -- believe it or not -- Jim Courier combined to take an amazing twenty-one major titles.

I've mentioned before that there are some promising youngsters in our arsenal that could, in a few years, be the country's best hope. But in the meantime, it's on the likes of Roddick, Blake, Fish and even Querrey that our best hopes lie. And with a few good results in San Jose, they might be able to make a case for themselves, and the state of American tennis.

'Til then, Happy Heart Day!

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