The first week of the Australian Open is now history. After Serena’s loss to a player ranked in the 50’s, not a single American is left in either the men or women’s singles draw going into the second week. Something is wrong.
Based on grand slam results from the last few years, I had no real expectations of an American man advancing into the later rounds. That’s disappointing and frustrating but not surprising. Something is wrong.
Tentatively, I pinned my hopes on Serena Williams, a five time Australian Open champion. Though she could not possibly have been at the top of her game, I had to hold on to something for our country. The health issues she suffered during much of last year are well documented.
This year, in this tournament, an ankle injury obviously impaired Serena’s movement. And her serve, widely considered the best ever in women’s tennis just wasn’t working. Even worse, the usually assertive Serena was being dictated to throughout the match. Her opponent kept her pinned behind the baseline scurrying about playing the role of defensive retriever, a role she is unaccustomed to. Something is wrong. Something is woefully wrong at the elite level of American tennis. Simply put, we can’t win slams.
There is an adage that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words if whatever is being done is working well don’t tamper with it. In our sport, if the methodology is producing positive results, by all means, stay the course. But I say, “If it is broke, for Christ’s sake, fix it!” American tennis is broken. Something is dreadfully wrong and we need to fix it.
For now, as an emergency move, I honestly think the USTA (United States Tennis Association) needs to assemble a contingent of the top American teaching pros and coaches and send them to European tennis academies to find out what the hell they know that we don’t.
If success is equated with the amount of money earned, then our top pros are doing quite well. I can’t argue with that. But if hoisting the winners trophy at the most prestigious events is the measuring stick, then all I can say is, something is wrong, terribly wrong with American tennis.