On The Decline Of American (And Australian) Men’s Tennis - UBITENNIS
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On The Decline Of American (And Australian) Men’s Tennis

The best player from the US, John Isner, is 35 and ranked outside the world Top 20, while the only truly great prospect seems to be 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima – this might be the lowest point for American tennis.

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A few days ago, a reader sent us some interesting observations: “While sifting through the latest ATP Ranking, I asked myself: who is the highest-ranked American? How high is he? When I realized it was John Isner, sitting at N.23, I thought of the famous Latin phrase, ‘sic transit gloria mundi.’ When I was young, the Yankees dominated along with the Australian’s, who seem to be on the rocks themselves. Is it just my impression? If it isn’t, which could be the reasons for such a decline?

 

It seems to us that the topic may be of interest to many, so we decided to answer the first part of the question, starting from some statistical data obtained by:

· The first ATP Ranking released in 1973.

· The first ranking of the four following decades.

· The most recently released rankings.

Here is the result:

Here are some observations.

The first ITF global report in 2019, which was elaborated by 195 national tennis federations, shows that there are about 87 million tennis players in the world; in the areas of our interest the numerical distribution is this:

 USAEUROPAAUSTR.
    
Number of practitioners (millions)18272.3
Number of male practitioners (m)8.2161.4

In Europe, there is a Top 100 player every 235,000 men; in Australia, one every 280,000; in the USA, one every 911,000 (we think that is appropriate to reflect on these data, dear parents and kids, before making a decision vis-à-vis whether or not trying to follow the path of professional tennis).

In 1973, the United States occupied 23 of the Top 100 positions and 6 of the Top 20; at the beginning of the following decade, their edge over the rest of the world was equally if not more overwhelming. In the last thirty years, however, this prominence has gradually disappeared: first in terms of quantity and then of quality; the last American to occupy top spot was Andy Roddick on January 26, 2004, and the last one in the Top 10 was John Isner on January 27, 2019. The new faces of American tennis do not appear to point to the imminent advent of an American Male Renaissance: among the 9 players present in the top 100 today, the youngest is Frances Tiafoe, who will turn 23 next January and occupies the 63rd spot; the best-positioned teenager is 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima at N.203, followed by his peer Jenson Brooksby at N.299; far behind is Govind Nanda, N.709. Given such premises, it will be difficult for the US to get back to winning ways in the Davis Cup, a competition in which their record tally is stuck at 32 since 2007. 

Australia cannot yet be called a bygone men’s tennis power, since it hasn’t been that long since they boasted the best player in the world, i.e. Lleyton Hewitt on May 12, 2003 – he was also the last Australian to make the Top 10 in July 2006. However, this is a far cry from the age when this nation competed with the United States for the sceptre of world tennis. To give a more complete idea of ​​what Australia represented in the past for tennis, between 1950 and 1967 they won the Davis Cup 15 times (the USA won the remaining three); since 1973, the Aussies have bagged six more, the last one in 2003. For the foreseeable future, they can count on twenty-one-year-old Alex de Minaur, ranked 29th in the world, and on the wayward moods of Nick Kyrgios, currently 43rd; further down the line, they can count, to a lesser extent, on Alexei Popyrin, a peer of De Minaur, but more untested at high levels, but mostly they will have to rely on the Divine Providence, since the best-ranked Australian teen is 19-year-old Hijkata at N.672.

The numbers tell us that, since 1973, Europe’s trajectory has been almost specular to the Australian one. At the beginning of the 1980’s, men’s tennis in the Old Continent was going through a period of severe crisis, from which it was able to brilliantly recover – since February 2004, a European has occupied the throne in the world rankings with no interruptions. At the team level, since the beginning of the new millennium, a European country has lifted the Davis Cup 16 times out of 19. There are no credible alternatives to this sporting dictatorship on the horizon: among youngsters, the sole Denis Shapovalov (who has European origins himself) seems to have the potential to be able to aspire to a Major win; extending the analysis to the very young – i.e. the top ten tennis players born after January 1, 2001 – the tune is the same, since five of them are Europeans including the three most promising:

1.      Sinner, Italy, 46     

2.      Musetti, Italy, 123          

3.      Alcaraz, Spain, 136           

4.      Nakashima, USA, 203     

5.      Tseng, Taiwan, 288

6.      Draper, UK, 297            

7.      Brooksby, USA, 299        

8.      Zeppieri, Italy, 317          

9.      Baez, Argentina, 330               

10.  Cerundolo, Argentina, 345      

Countries belonging to the former Iron Curtain (and Yugoslav) block have been giving a significant contribution at the success of the European tennis for a long time; as a matter of fact, there are 19 representatives of these nations in the top 100:

  • Serbia 5          
  •  Slovenia 1         
  • Russia 3           
  • Poland 1          
  • Moldova 1        
  • Lithuania 1         
  • Hungary 2       
  • Czech Republic 1                       
  • Croatia 2          
  • Belarus 1     
  • Bulgaria 1          

At the end of our analysis, we believe that the feelings of our reader have been largely confirmed.  However, the second part of the question (the most important) he posed to us remains unsolved: if the USA and Australia are really in decline, what are the causes?

Website CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and his good friend Steve Flink, with their deep knowledge of the top tennis systems, could try to give us an answer in one of their future videos. We are simply humble scribes of the editorial staff – lacking such knowledge and aware of the fact that the vision that is drawn from the numbers we have presented is partial, because of the limited sample examined. All we can hope for is that our work can at least offer some interesting food for thought.

Original article by Roberto Ferri; translated by Matteo Pelliccia; edited by Tommaso Villa

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Daniil Medvedev Can Improve Further After US Open Win, Says Coach

Gilles Cervara has overseen the rise of the world No.2 since 2017 and he believes there is still more to come.

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The 2021 Men's Singles Champion, Daniil Medvedev at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

The team of Daniil Medvedev are already looking into ways the Russian can improve his game less than a week after he won the US Open, according to his coach Gilles Cervara.

 

On Sunday the 25-year-old defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to claim his first-ever Grand Slam title and become the first Russian man to win a major since Marat Safin in 2005. Impressively Medvedev only dropped one set in the tournament which was against Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

Guiding Medvedev to glory in New York was his coach Cervara who has been working with him since 2017. The Frenchman was recognized for his work with Medvedev back in 2019 when he was named ATP coach of the Year. Speaking to Tennis Majors earlier this week, Cervara believes part of the success they have had is due to the desire to continuously improve.

“It’s huge to have won the US Open. But Daniil, me and the whole team, we are always focused on performance,” he said. “It’s a way of life, of thinking, which means that I will always be drawn to the idea of doing better, and therefore of winning the next tournament. To make this possible, I have to set up workouts to be even stronger and respond to more situations, to win even more.”

It is hard to question the approach taken by Cervara when you look at Medvedev’s results on the hardcourts. According to the ATP, the world No.2 has won 147 matches and 12 titles on the surface since 2018 which is more than any other player. The next best player is Djokovic with 115 wins and 10 titles.

Medvedev could end the year as world No.1 but it will be far from easy. He is currently more than 1300 points behind Djokovic in the standings. If he wants to overtake him he will need to win or reach the finals of key events in Indian Wells, Paris and the ATP Finals. Although it is hard to project an exact route as it is unclear as to what tournaments will be played.

“I tell myself that it involves work and improving many things on a daily basis. The team has already started to think: yes, he wins a Grand Slam, but we can see a lot of things to improve,” Cervara commented. “These things represent the concrete aspects to be deployed with a view to a potential future great result. To be number one and win other majors, you have to achieve concrete things, at work, every day.”

Just because Medvedev has won a Grand Slam doesn’t automatically mean that he will go on to dominate the Tour. 12 months ago at the US Open, it was Dominic Thiem who triumphed at the tournament. However, the Austrian admitted that he struggled over the following months after achieving one of his career goals. Thiem didn’t play in this year’s US Open due to a wrist injury.

“I don’t think that will happen to him, but if we want to use what has happened for others, then yes it is a point of attention. It’s too early to know. If that happens, we will look for solutions,” Medvedev’s mentor commented.

One of the most unique aspects of Medvedev’s game is how far he stands behind the baseline during points. In one research article conducted by UbiTennis on the 2020 ATP Finals, the average player stood 1.9 meters behind the baseline. However, Medvedev’s return position was between 4.51 and 5.51 meters. Interestingly the analysis found that the further he stood behind the more he won.

Cervara admits that initially he tried to stop Medvedev from standing so far behind the baseline but the Russian refused to do so. His initial fear was that the tennis player was opening himself up to too many angles which his opponent could use. However, he soon came to realise that this wouldn’t be the case.

“I tried to get him to return closer to the line, but he refused,” he said. “He felt that as he got closer to the line, things just stopped happening for him. I think I had the intelligence to listen to him and put myself in his shoes, not to deconstruct something that is advantageous for him thanks to his size, his eye and his playing intentions. And the stats tell us that it pays a lot.”

Medvedev is set to return to action in just over a week at the Laver Cup. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 44-9.

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Top Seed Tennys Sandgren Defaulted From Match Two Games In At Challenger Event

The tennis player was on court for less than 20 minutes before the incident happened.

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Tennys Sandgren’s appearance at the Atlantic Tire Championships Challenger event in Cary was a very brief one after he was disqualified from his first round match for hitting a lines official with a ball.

 

The world No.103 was taking on Christopher Eubanks in the first round on Tuesday and got off to a promising start by breaking in the first game before working his way to a 40-30 lead in the second. However, Sandgren then landed himself in hot water after hitting a tennis ball which struck one of the court officials. At the time the American was frustrated after hitting a forehand error.

The bizarre incident wasn’t caught on camera by the tournament livestream but Sandgren gave his version of events shortly after. He said a ball thrown to him by a ball kid hit him in the genitals and after that he slapped a wayward ball towards the fence. However, that wayward ball ended up hitting the ‘tushy’ of a court official.

https://twitter.com/TennysSandgren/status/1437933892456140809

Immediately after the incident, the tournament supervisor was called to the court by the umpire. Following a brief discussion on the court, Sandgren was then disqualified from the match for an action which he later took full responsibility for.

“Just to be clear, this was all totally my fault,” he wrote on Twitter.

It is not the first time a player has been disqualified for hitting a ball which then struck an official. The most famous incident took place at last year’s US Open when Novak Djokovic was disqualified from his fourth round match after hitting a ball which hit the lineswoman in the throat. In another incident, Denis Shapovalov was disqualified from one of his Davis Cup matches after unintentionally firing a ball into the umpire’s eye.

Sandgren, who is a two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist, has experienced a disappointing 2021 season so far. The American is yet to win back-to-back matches at a tournament and has only recorded a total of eight wins overall. Since January he has fallen more than 50 places in the ATP rankings.

Full video (go to the 19-minuite mark)

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Daniil Medvedev Marks US Open Milestone With FIFA-Inspired ‘Dead Fish’ Celebration

In his own words, the new champion produced an ‘L2 + Left’ celebration after defeating Novak Djokovic in New York on Sunday.

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Daniil Medvedev reacts to winning the Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

Daniil Medvedev’s reaction to winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open wasn’t random. In fact, he has been thinking about his FIFA-inspired celebration since Wimbledon.

 

On Sunday the world No.2 defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to become only the third Russian man in history to win a major title. The triumph caused heartbreak for his opponent who was on the verge of achieving the elusive Calendar Slam which last happened on the men’s Tour back in 1968. Leading 6-4, 6-4, 5-4, Medvedev sealed victory after a Djokovic return slammed into the net. Prompting him to literally drop to the ground in a somewhat unusual way.

“Only the legends will understand, what I did after the match was a L2 + Left,” he said during the trophy presentation.

The reference was to the game FIFA with L2 + Left being the code for what is called by some as the brick fall celebration or what Medvedev describes as ‘dead fish.’ When a player would just drop to the ground on his side after scoring a goal.

“When I was running through [the draw at] Wimbledon… I was really confident about my game. I think it was one night, you know, you cannot fall asleep. Five, 10 minutes you have crazy thoughts, like every other person,” he said.
“I was like, OK, if I’m going to win Wimbledon, imagine I win it against Novak or whatever. To not celebrate is going to be too boring, because I do it all the time. I need to do something, but I want to make it special.”

Medvedev’s planned celebration was no secret with him openly speaking with others in the locker room leading up to the US Open. No names of who he spoke to were mentioned by the Russian who says his peers described the idea as ‘legendary.’

“I like to play FIFA. I like to play PlayStation. It’s called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you’re going to do this. You’re going to score a goal, you’re up 5-0, you do this one,” he continued.
“Yeah, I talked to the guys in the locker [room], they’re young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, ‘That’s legendary’. Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that’s legendary. That’s how I wanted to make it… It’s not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I’m happy I made it legendary for myself.”

It certainly was legendary from Medvedev.

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