Thursday, February 12, 2015

Memphis Time Machine: 1990s Style Success for American Men

It's no secret that American men haven't exactly been dominating the sport for the last decade.  Even the occasional bright moments have been few and far between, as it's hard to remember the last time an American man made even the quarters of a grand slam.  (Fish and/or Isner making the quarters of the US Open 3-4 years ago sounds vaguely familiar).  However, there must be something in the water in Memphis, as five of the eight quarterfinalists are American. 

We have the (somewhat) usual suspects in Isner and Querrey, who are set to play each other in the quarters.  Then we have the steadily improving Donald Young and Steve Johnson, who both seem to have settled in nicely on the ATP Tour.  Most surprising is 24 year old Austin Krajicek, who qualified and beat Karlovic on his way to the quarters.  Krajicek, a former Kalamazoo champion, has been slowly working his way up the rankings since starring for Texas A&M.  He's closing in on the top 150, and should pass that mark following his strong week.

We also got a glimpse of the future, as young guns Jared Donaldson and Stefan Kozlov battled in the first round.  The older and higher ranked Donaldson prevailed in straights, before going down easily to Querrey in the second round.  Donaldson and Kozlov may end up being the best of the bunch, but are still likely a few years away from making serious noise on the ATP Tour. 

Fans of American tennis should probably enjoy this while it lasts, because it's quite possible only Isner/Querrey will be standing by the semis.  Krajicek will likely go down easily to Nishikori, Young will have his hands full against Tomic, and Johnson has already lost to Kevin Anderson this year.  Regardless, it's nice that Americans are showing some positive signs, even if it is just a 250 level tournament in Memphis.  If they keep this up, we may start feeling like we're back in the 1990s.

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