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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Kei Nishikori Issues Fitness Update Ahead Of New Season

After a difficult season where he could only win two matches, the world No.41 is hoping to get back on track next year.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori says he is eager to start competing against the best in the world again after what has been a troublesome season.

 

The 30-year-old has only been able to play four tournaments this year due to a combination of injury, the pandemic and illness. Nishikori underwent surgery on his shoulder in October 2019 which subsequently resulted in him missing the start of this season. Then he was forced to pull out of his planned return at the US Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Eventually he returned to action in Kitzbuhel during September but had to close his season early a few weeks later after injuring his shoulder at the French Open.

“We had a few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Kyodo news quoted Nishikori as saying on Friday. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

Overall, Nishikori won just two out of six matches played on the Tour in 2020. Scoring wins over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome and Britain’s Dan Evans at Roland Garros. The highest ranked player he faced was No.22 Christian Garin, who he lost 6-0, 6-3, to in Hamburg.

Despite his setbacks, the Japanese player insists that he is now back on track and his shoulder is at ‘a decent level.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”
“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

One of Nishikori’s goals for next year will be the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo for the first time since 1964. The Games have to be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nishikori is the only player from his country to have won an Olympic medal during the Open Era after winning bronze in 2016.

I think it’s hard for athletes and the public to think about the Olympics right now. I just want to prepare well,he said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nishikori has been ranked as high fourth in the world but is currently in 41st position. So far in his career he has won 12 ATP titles and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2020 ATP Awards

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Nominees have been announced for the ATP Awards for all player-voted categories (Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the year, Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award) and Coach of the Year. 

 

The Fans’s Favourite Award and and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award Award will be announced later this month. Fans can vote for their favourite singles player and doubles team through 11 December. 

Three-time winner and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will be up against 2020 Rome finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist Diego Schwartzman, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and John Millman in the Sportsmanship category. 

Schwartzman is among the nominees in the Most Improved player category and will be against Ugo Humbert, five-time ATP Tour titlist Andrey Rublev and 2020 Sofia ATP Tour champion and 2019 Next Gen ATP Tour champion Jannik Sinner. The Most Improved player of the Year reached a higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and showed an increasingly improved level of performance through the year. 

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are Kevin Anderson, Andrey Kuznetsov, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. The Compeback Player of the Year has overcome a serious injury in re-establishing as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

The contenders for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Carlos Alcaraz (winner in three Challenger tournaments in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante), Sebastian Korda (winner of his first Challenger title in Eckental), Lorenzo Musetti (title in Parma and third-round in Rome Masters 1000), Jurij Rodionov (first Challenger titles in Dallas and Morelos) , Emil Ruusuvuori (semifinalist in Nur Sultan) and Thiago Seyboth Wild (first title in Santiago de Chlle)

The Coach of the Year Award contenders are Juan Ignacio Chela (Diego Schwartzman), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Nicolas Massu (Dominic Thiem), Riccardo Piatti (Jannik Sinner) and Fernando Vicente (Andrey Rublev). 

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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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