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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

USA and Oz : Empires in decline
Monday, 9 June, 2008
Written by Ronald Atkin

Perhaps nothing has been more surprising at The Championships in recent years than the comparative decline of the English-speaking world in the men's singles competition.

Among Britons the decline can be summed up in a word: catastrophic. Seventy-two years have now passed since Fred Perry posted a ‘home’ victory on Centre Court, but the absence of winners from previously dominant nations like the United States and Australia is a dramatic indication that other countries have caught up, and sometimes surged past, the former giants of grass.

In the 22 years between the resumption of The Championships after World War II in 1946 and the advent of the Open era in 1968, the men's champion on 19 occasions was either American or Australian.

Even the beginning of the Open era suggested this trend would continue. But Rod Laver (1968-9) and John Newcombe (1970-1) actually represented the last great flourish for Australian tennis at Wimbledon. Since then, only Pat Cash in 1987 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 have been Australian-born singles champions.

Hewitt’s victory was the highlight of a mini-revival in Australian tennis. Pat Rafter had been runner-up in 2000 and 2001 prior to Hewitt’s win while Mark Philippoussis reached the final in 2003, only to become Roger Federer’s first final victim.

The Americans have enjoyed two spells of Open-era domination. Between 1972 and 1984, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe and John McEnroe all won Wimbledon titles. They would have been more successful except for the emergence of Bjorn Borg.

It was 1992 when Andre Agassi won his only Wimbledon, followed by Pete Sampras’ domination of the tournament — a seven times champion between 1993 and 2000.

There were other noteworthy Americans in the Sampras decade. Jim Courier was part of an all-American final in 1993 and Agassi contested the last all-American final, with Sampras in 1999.

Following Sampras, Andy Roddick, runner-up to Roger Federer in 2004 and 2005, has been the best performed American man and even he could only manage the quarter-finals in 2007.

Wimbledon is not the only Grand Slam to highlight the decline of the Australian and American men. Agassi (1999) is the only American champion of Roland Garros over the past 16 years, while no Australian since Laver in 1969 has lifted the French Open trophy.

This year there were no English-speaking players in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in either the men or women’s draw.

The last home champion at the Australian Open remains Mark Edmondson in 1976. Americans have done much better at the US Open, thanks to the likes of Agassi, Sampras and Roddick, the last 11 years have seen a home-grown men's champion just three times.

It is an indication of the atrophy of tennis in these formerly great tennis nations that Hewitt and Roddick still represent their countries’ best hope.

Hewitt, the only Australian in the world's top 50, and Roddick, still one of the top ten, both have had recent injury concerns.

Hewitt has a persistent hip problem, while Roddick missed Roland Garros because of a problem with the shoulder of his serving arm.

In fact, perhaps the best English-speaking bet for the 2008 Championships could be a Scot, Andy Murray.

Australian Tennis Rankings:
1. Hewitt (28) 2. Guccione (92) 3. Jones (149) 4. Luczak (152) 5. Smeets (153) 6. Sirianni (155) 7. Ball (214) 9. Groth (240) 8. Ebelithe (247) 10. Lindahl(252) 11. Feeney (288) 12. Coelho (295) 13. Junaid (307) 14. Klein (334) 15. Armstrong (342)
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:13 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

`This year there were no English-speaking players in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in either the men or women’s draw' -


2007 was even worse - all the American men were knocked out of RG by the 2nd round. Pitiful!

Now that the Williams sisters seem to be in recession, there are virtually NO American women tennis stars on the horizon. Ashley Harkleroad? Vania King? I don't think so.

Last edited by sanshisan; 06-10-2008 at 12:34 PM.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:15 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Originally Posted by sanshisan View Post
`This year there were no English-speaking players in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in either the men or women’s draw' -


This was too kind - As I remember, all the American men were knocked out of RG by the 2nd round. Pitiful!

Now that the Williams sisters seem to be in recession, there are virtually NO American women tennis stars on the horizon. Ashley Harkleroad? Vania King? I don't think so.
Robby Ginepri made the 4th round.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

I would like to see players from Asia and Africa to flourish on the circuit

Australian Tennis Rankings:
1. Hewitt (28) 2. Guccione (92) 3. Jones (149) 4. Luczak (152) 5. Smeets (153) 6. Sirianni (155) 7. Ball (214) 9. Groth (240) 8. Ebelithe (247) 10. Lindahl(252) 11. Feeney (288) 12. Coelho (295) 13. Junaid (307) 14. Klein (334) 15. Armstrong (342)
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:44 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Robby Ginepri made the 4th round.
Yes you are right, I was thinking of RG 2007.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 11:50 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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I would like to see players from Asia and Africa to flourish on the circuit
A lad from Taiwan won the RG juniors, so maybe there is your hope. There are several chinese women doing well, and one Indian doing well and a couple of Japanese women have done well and a couple of Indonesian women have had some success. I don't know of any Africans on the tour since the Blacks and Noah. Oh yeah, isn't Kevin Anderson from South Africa? Lisl Huber too, no?
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 12:39 PM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Originally Posted by sanshisan View Post
`This year there were no English-speaking players in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in either the men or women’s draw' -


This was too kind - As I remember, all the American men were knocked out of RG by the 2nd round. Pitiful!

Now that the Williams sisters seem to be in recession, there are virtually NO American women tennis stars on the horizon. Ashley Harkleroad? Vania King? I don't think so.
Nobody knows where they are...they can never win another slam and they can dominate them for the next 3 years..unpredictable. The WTA is in a rutt completely.

As for mens well hasn't this been obvious for the last 5 years?

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 12:39 PM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

kevin andersson could be the answer for africa, in asia the development of tennis is growing every day, don't surprise if in a couple of years the tour is full asians...
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-09-2008, 10:59 PM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

Shouldn't it be "native English-speaking world".

I've heard many of the quarterfinalists speak English, some quite expertly (Federer, Djokovic, Jankovic).
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 12:03 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

yeah... asia will boom pretty hard soon and this article will be just another reminder of what the world tennis scene was once like...

while it is huge issue with me - the fall of aussie tennis, i could talk for fukn hours - i'm not blind to see that there are many more positive to come out of that situation...

not all the time do u need your own countrymen involved to fully appreciate a tennis match...

helps tho of course...

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why are you so seriously
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 03:24 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Nobody knows where they are...they can never win another slam and they can dominate them for the next 3 years..unpredictable. The WTA is in a rutt completely.

As for mens well hasn't this been obvious for the last 5 years?
Kinda reminds me of that old Beetles song - `Money Can't Buy Me Love'. All the money in the world can't buy the US, UK or OZ a Grand Slam champion tennis player right now, male or female. Yet look at little Serbia - sanctioned for over 10 years til their economy was in complete collapse, bombed by NATO and their infrastructure destroyed, their country piecemealed away and look what they are doing in world tennis - out of sheer guts and talent.

Meanwhile the Brtish Tennis Assn paid Brad Gilbert a million dollars to make a GS winner out of Andy Murray and he couldn't do it. The entire tennis world is scratching their heads in disbelief. What's gone wrong? I love to hear the US commentators talk about `CLAY'. How hard it is for Americans to play on clay, blah blah. Well we didn't seem to have much problem winning on clay back in the day...what about then?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 03:50 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Kinda reminds me of that old Beetles song - `Money Can't Buy Me Love'. All the money in the world can't buy the US, UK or OZ a Grand Slam champion tennis player right now, male or female. Yet look at little Serbia - sanctioned for over 10 years til their economy was in complete collapse, bombed by NATO and their infrastructure destroyed, their country piecemealed away and look what they are doing in world tennis - out of sheer guts and talent.

Meanwhile the Brtish Tennis Assn paid Brad Gilbert a million dollars to make a GS winner out of Andy Murray and he couldn't do it. The entire tennis world is scratching their heads in disbelief. What's gone wrong? I love to hear the US commentators talk about `CLAY'. How hard it is for Americans to play on clay, blah blah. Well we didn't seem to have much problem winning on clay back in the day...what about then?
a total lack of foresight and understanding by the governing bodies in the respective countries to the basic needs in grooming a champion tennis player is the primary factor in my opinion...

in australia i know that there has been a systematic death of clay court venues... it would seem to tough to turn the clock back to how things worked back then - players plying their trade on claycourt venues in the country regions, with only the best getting to the grasscourt events in the cities. such a simple system was the blueprint for building well rounded and skilled players...

in the states... i feel it would be in their best interests to hold a masters series event on clay before the euro clay season starts...

but... i think the day has passed where that could ever be the case...

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 04:56 AM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

Old news. This has been discussed before. USA, England, Australia, France, Germany, even Spain and Sweden really developed the game of tennis. It makes sense that for most of tennis history they would have the best players and most successful programs because the tennis infrastructure was much more built up in these countries. Availability of courts, top-notch instructors/academies, wisdom/knowledge of former pros, professional tournaments, and of course funding all meant that juniors in these countries were more likely to turn into a top pro than those in developing/less tennis-friendly nations.

In the last 15-20 years or so it's not that the tennis infrastructure in these countries has deteriorated, but that it has significantly improved elsewhere. At least in the U.S. (not sure about Australia, UK, Sweden, and Germany), the tennis infrastructure has actually improved, especially with the rise of more academies and more structured junior competition. However, the tennis infrastructure has improved dramatically in places like eastern Europe and South America.

This is most likely due to increased political/economic stability. Is it really just a coincidence that Russian tennis became so powerful approximately 10-15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union? With the excecption of the ongoing Kosovo incident, which isn't nearly as severe as the events in the mid-90's (I'm not familiar at all with Serbian history so if I'm wrong just correct me), Serbia has been pretty stable for the past 10 years, which has allowed the tennis infrastructure to build up. Novak, Ivanovic, and Jankovic are around 20-22 years old. Is it surprising that they were around 10-12, the age when most players start training seriously in order to become a top player, when the events in Serbia ended? Economic conditions in Latin America have certainly improved in the last 20 years, and sure enough there are a ton of South Americans at the top of the game.

The tennis infrastructure is improving in Asia now, not so much as a result of increased political/economic stability, although China and India are certainly doing much better economically than they were 20 years ago, but rather because of more interest in the game. Look at the juniors, there are a ton of Asian players. We're gradually going to see more Asians in the top 100.

There is obviously a fixed number of players in the top 100, so it's natural that as these trends in which players not from the traditional powerhouse countries reach the top of the game it's going to be at the expense of players from those historically very tennis-successful countries.

To be honost, as an American and a fan of American tennis, I'm not particularly worried about any "decline" in American tennis. I'm pretty sure that there will always be a decent number of Americans in the top 100, with at least one top player. Sure, tournaments have been slowly leaving, but the creation of the US Open Series and the success of IW/Miami will limit future departures. The USOS has also increased TV viewership/attendance during the summer hardcourt season and therefore has increased sponsorship revenue. It's not surprising that ESPN has outbid USA Network for the rights to show the US Open. More viewership = more advertising revenue, and ESPN wants to tap into that. That extra revenue from sponsors, ticket sales, and the sale of TV rights all gets reinvested by the USTA back into the development of American tennis. I know the USOS doesn't gain much attention overseas, but in the US it's already been a big success and will become even more succesful in the future. That's why I'm not worried about American tennis. I'd be much more worried if I was a fan of German, Australian (although Tomic looks like he'll be the real deal), Swedish, and especially British tennis.

Last edited by Chip_s_m; 06-10-2008 at 05:10 AM.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 12:04 PM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

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Old news. This has been discussed before. USA, England, Australia, France, Germany, even Spain and Sweden really developed the game of tennis. It makes sense that for most of tennis history they would have the best players and most successful programs because the tennis infrastructure was much more built up in these countries. Availability of courts, top-notch instructors/academies, wisdom/knowledge of former pros, professional tournaments, and of course funding all meant that juniors in these countries were more likely to turn into a top pro than those in developing/less tennis-friendly nations.

In the last 15-20 years or so it's not that the tennis infrastructure in these countries has deteriorated, but that it has significantly improved elsewhere. At least in the U.S. (not sure about Australia, UK, Sweden, and Germany), the tennis infrastructure has actually improved, especially with the rise of more academies and more structured junior competition. However, the tennis infrastructure has improved dramatically in places like eastern Europe and South America.

This is most likely due to increased political/economic stability. Is it really just a coincidence that Russian tennis became so powerful approximately 10-15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union? With the excecption of the ongoing Kosovo incident, which isn't nearly as severe as the events in the mid-90's (I'm not familiar at all with Serbian history so if I'm wrong just correct me), Serbia has been pretty stable for the past 10 years, which has allowed the tennis infrastructure to build up. Novak, Ivanovic, and Jankovic are around 20-22 years old. Is it surprising that they were around 10-12, the age when most players start training seriously in order to become a top player, when the events in Serbia ended? Economic conditions in Latin America have certainly improved in the last 20 years, and sure enough there are a ton of South Americans at the top of the game.

The tennis infrastructure is improving in Asia now, not so much as a result of increased political/economic stability, although China and India are certainly doing much better economically than they were 20 years ago, but rather because of more interest in the game. Look at the juniors, there are a ton of Asian players. We're gradually going to see more Asians in the top 100.

There is obviously a fixed number of players in the top 100, so it's natural that as these trends in which players not from the traditional powerhouse countries reach the top of the game it's going to be at the expense of players from those historically very tennis-successful countries.

To be honost, as an American and a fan of American tennis, I'm not particularly worried about any "decline" in American tennis. I'm pretty sure that there will always be a decent number of Americans in the top 100, with at least one top player. Sure, tournaments have been slowly leaving, but the creation of the US Open Series and the success of IW/Miami will limit future departures. The USOS has also increased TV viewership/attendance during the summer hardcourt season and therefore has increased sponsorship revenue. It's not surprising that ESPN has outbid USA Network for the rights to show the US Open. More viewership = more advertising revenue, and ESPN wants to tap into that. That extra revenue from sponsors, ticket sales, and the sale of TV rights all gets reinvested by the USTA back into the development of American tennis. I know the USOS doesn't gain much attention overseas, but in the US it's already been a big success and will become even more succesful in the future. That's why I'm not worried about American tennis. I'd be much more worried if I was a fan of German, Australian (although Tomic looks like he'll be the real deal), Swedish, and especially British tennis.

You make some good points. Right now there is a stunning gap betw the English-speaking countries who were formerly the major powers in world tennis and Europe/Sth Am. I can't help feeling that the the USUK and OZ have lost The WAY. You mention Bernard Tomic of Australia - born in GERMANY of CROATIAN parents, Tomic is a good example of a NON Australian making it good in tennis-poor Australia. Jelena Dokic is another example - born in Croatia of Serbian parents who were forced to emigrate during the Yugoslav civil war when Croatia ethnically cleansed all Serbs in 1995 (Operation Storm). Dokic was the leading Aussie women's player and rose to #4 in the WTA before the wrangling between her parents and the Aussie Tennis Assn destroyed her career.

You know that the British Tennis Assn tried to BUY Djokovic?! That's right - the Brits are so-oo desperate for a winner they offered Djokovic British citizenship and bigtime sponsorship in 2006 when he was rapidly moving up the ranks. Fortunately for Serbia Djokovic declined.

You mention that the decline of the USSR has brought many East Europeans more prosperity so they can have access to tennis courts. Actually the opposite is true. The Communists heavily subsidized sports and that whole program fell apart, many nations such as Belarus fell into DEEP poverty. For Yugo/Serbia the collapse of the old SU has been a CATASTROPHE.

Many times Ivanovic tells about how she had to practice in a drained SWIMMING POOL because that was all they had in Belgrade, there was no tennis center, no subsidizing of young juniors to go around Europe and play. It costs alot to do that. Many times the Serbs couldn't even GET OUT to play because of the extreme sanctions against Serbia. As Tipsarevic says `We came from MUD. No one helped us but our parents.'

IMO - the English speaking countries have lost The WAY. We need to think deeply about the directions our youth are taking. At my local high school we have 5 beautiful tennis courts. We often go there on weekends to play and 99% of the time the courts are EMPTY.

Last edited by sanshisan; 06-10-2008 at 12:08 PM. Reason: spell
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-10-2008, 12:15 PM
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Re: Interesting Article - USA and Oz: Empires in decline

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanshisan View Post
`This year there were no English-speaking players in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros in either the men or women’s draw' -


This was too kind - As I remember, all the American men were knocked out of RG by the 2nd round. Pitiful!

Now that the Williams sisters seem to be in recession, there are virtually NO American women tennis stars on the horizon. Ashley Harkleroad? Vania King? I don't think so.
Robby Ginepri made it past the 2nd round all the way into the fourth round (I think).
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