With the ATP World Tour hitting Memphis and Delray Beach over the next two weeks and both the men’s and women’s tours swinging into Indian Wells and Miami in a few short weeks, American tennis is in the spotlight - and for a number of reasons it’s the strongest it’s been in a long time. Why?
1. Serena Williams. Not only has Serena spent almost all of the last four years as World No.1 on the WTA Rankings (189 of the last 209 weeks to be exact), but she’s done it by winning the biggest tournaments on the calendar again and again - she’s actually won 10 of the last 19 Grand Slams (and among the nine Grand Slams she didn’t win, she reached two more finals and two more semifinals).
The reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion is next scheduled to play at Indian Wells.
2. There are 25 Americans in the men’s and women’s Top 100s combined. There are currently eight American men in the Top 100, with four of them in the Top 30 (No.21 Jack Sock, No.23 John Isner, No.29 Sam Querrey and No.30 Steve Johnson). Compare that number to five years ago, when there were three Americans in the men’s Top 30, and 10 years ago, when there were also three.
As for the women, there are 17 Americans in the Top 100, including four in the Top 20 (No.1 Serena Williams, No.9 Madison Keys, No.12 Venus Williams and No.20 CoCo Vandeweghe). Five years ago there was just one American in the Top 20 (Serena), and 10 years ago also just one (Serena).
3. Sam Querrey and CoCo Vandeweghe’s giant-killing heroics. At Wimbledon last year, Sam Querrey upset then-No.1 Novak Djokovic in the third round, ending his 30-match Grand Slam winning streak, the longest in the Open Era. And at the Australian Open a few weeks ago, CoCo Vandeweghe upset then-No.1 Angelique Kerber in the fourth round in the German’s first Grand Slam as No.1.
Querrey was the first US man to beat a No.1 at a major since Andre Agassi beat Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 US Open semis, and Vandeweghe was the first US woman other than the Williams sisters to beat a No.1 at a major since Jennifer Capriati beat Martina Hingis in the 2001 French Open semis.
4. Venus Williams. Fresh off the 15th Grand Slam final of her career in Australia, Venus is proving she’s still going very strong, and with Serena and Vandeweghe joining her in the semifinals, it was the first time three American women were in the final four of a Grand Slam since the US Open in 2002.
Like Serena, Venus’ next scheduled tournaments are Indian Wells and Miami, and she’s had particular success in Miami - the former No.1 is a three-time champion there in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
5. The next generation is already here. Of those combined 25 players in the men’s and women’s Top 100s, four of them are age 20 or under (Frances Tiafoe, Jared Donaldson, Louisa Chirico and CiCi Bellis) and there are another eight age 20 or under in the No.101-No.200 range (including Taylor Fritz, who only dipped out of the Top 100 this week when his Memphis points from last year came off).
Also, looking even further ahead, Californian Kayla Day is the No.2-ranked junior girl in the world
Ten Americans are playing the Memphis Open this week - watch all the action from Memphis starting on Friday on Tennis Channel (check the listings here!)