South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Bid won't be going to Ginepri
December 17, 2007
Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan twins — the four members of the U.S. Davis Cup team — signed a letter to the USTA, asking that the exchange wild card with the Australian Open be given to Robby Ginepri, but the request won't be granted.
The USTA told them it was sticking with its plan to hold a four-player, round-robin tournament to award the wild card and that Ginepri would not be invited because the protocol is to invite no American older than 22.
It was a particularly unhappy rebuff for Ginepri, whose career has been in a perplexing decline since he reached the semifinals of the 2005 U.S. Open, where he pushed Andre Agassi to five sets.
He won 28 of 39 matches in the second half of 2005, a run that began with a title in Indianapolis and ended with a No. 15 ranking at the end of the season. He couldn't have been in a better position to make a move on the top 10, since he had very few points to defend in the first half of 2006.
But he's 36-45 since the start of '06, and he's dropped to No. 134, which is his lowest point in 5 1/2 years and well beyond getting directly admitted into the Aussie Open. Without the wild card, he'll have to qualify, and that's where we'll find out if all the time he's putting in with coach Jose Higueras in California this offseason will reignite his motivation and his game.
I'd like to think his attitude has changed, and he's simply had a lot of tough-luck draws — Andy Murray in the first round at Canada, Nikolay Davydenko in the second round at Cincinnati, a five-set loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round of the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic in the first round at Vienna, Roger Federer in the second round at Madrid. But you expect him to win at least one of those matches.
Mediocrity of U.S. women
The USTA held an eight-player round robin for the women's wild card into Australia and 17-year-old Madison Brengle won it.
There's a lot of good things to say about Brengle. She competes hard. Everything about her court demeanor says she's driven to win. Her ground strokes are solid and accurate off both sides and she plays good defense. But she doesn't have one major weapon, and with her size (5-foot-4), she must get better at finishing points at the net.
On balance, looking at these eight players performing at the Evert Academy says a lot about the lack of talent U.S. women will be bringing to the women's tour in the next year. This was not a four-day display of impressive tennis.
There's potential out there. Coco Vandeweghe, who just turned 16, is 6 feet tall, athletic enough and has a very big game. She needs to modulate her ground game instead of trying to crash winners from less than optimum positions on court. She lacks right now exactly what Brengle has — the ability to grind.
Alexa Glatch is another 6-foot player who played 19 Challengers this year as she worked her way back from a 2005 scooter accident that left her with broken bones in the right wrist and left elbow. Predictably, she's got a big serve, but she has no confidence that she can stay in the long rallies with grittier players.
One other young player worth mentioning: Asia Muhammad, 16, of Henderson, Nev. Very athletic, excellent court coverage and, physically, needs to get a lot stronger.
It's fine to talk about potential, but there isn't one U.S. teenage girl out there whose game right now suggests a top-20 career.
Charles Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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