American tennis has been waiting for years for the next great star to arise. Ever since the decline and retirement of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, American fans have been eagerly awaiting someone to return American tennis to its traditional position among the tennis elite. Andy Roddick has been the mainstay for the last ten years, only falling outside the top 10 for 10 weeks since 2003. Roddick has qualified for the World Tour finals each of the last 8 years. The only other person who can say that is a man by the name of Roger Federer.
Federer. He has been, perhaps single-handedly, the downfall of Andy Roddick's career. The Swiss owns a 20-2 career record over Roddick. 8 of those have been in Grand Slams, with 3 of those being in semifinals and 4 being in finals. While we cannot guess who else could have been there or what would have happened, it is not too hard to say that Andy Roddick would have won at least three Wimbledons (2004, 2005, and 2009) instead of losing to Federer in the final. Roddick looked unstoppable on grass in those years; his only problem was that Federer was more unstoppable. Through in a Wimbledon semifinal loss to Federer in 2003 and a US Open final loss in 2006, and we could be looking at a 6-time Grand Slam champion Andy Roddick instead of a 1-Slam wonder. Roddick has still had a great career by any standards, but he has not been the elite player that American fans are accustomed to. And we can blame it all on one man.
James Blake had a pretty good run in the middle of this past decade. He even reached the top 5 for a few weeks in 2006. Still, he has been hampered by injuries his whole career and never really matched up well with the other top players. He never got past the quarterfinals of a Slam and his career-best result in a big tournament would probably be his loss in the bronze-medal match at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
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