John Isner Lone American Standing; Serena Williams Survives Scare in Cincinnati
MASON, Ohio — American men’s tennis is in a bit of a slump, to say the least. This is the first week in the 40-year history of the ATP rankings that no American man has been in the top 20, with John Isner ranked the highest at No. 22. It seems that American men are setting new lows often these days, and it is a trend that they surely would love to stop.
This tournament is no different than the rest of the past few years in this sense. The 56-man draw in Cincinnati started with eight Americans. Four of them won their first-round matches; after the second round, Isner is the lone man standing.
Isner was a bright point today, though, winning a tough matchup against No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet with relative ease. The first set was tight throughout, with neither man able to make headway on the other’s serve. Isner fell behind by a mini-break early in the tiebreak, but he managed to regain it and take the set on a Gasquet double fault. Isner broke Gasquet in each of the Frenchman’s first two service games in the second set and cruised from there.
Cincinnati has not been nearly as hot and humid this week as it usually is, and those conditions suited Isner well.
The No. 1 American said, “I absolutely love this weather. When it’s really hot and really humid, that’s when I struggle. So this is very welcoming for me. I hope this keeps up. It was perfect out there.”
He will have a tough match in the next round against Milos Raonic, last week’s Rogers Cup runner-up, and more weather like this will help him. Expect lots of easy holds and tiebreaks in that match.
But John Isner cannot carry the American flag alone. Others need to step up. And, as Mardy Fish said on Monday, we all miss Andy Roddick.
Serena Survives Early Scare
It looked like another early exit might be in the cards for Serena in Cincinnati. She rarely does well at this tournament. After today, Serena has a career record of just 5-3 in Cincinnati since this tournament became a Premier Five event.
She played very poorly in the first set, and Eugenie Bouchard did well to take advantage. Serena said about one shot that “I thought I’d never hit a shot like that professionally. I have maybe in practice with my eyes closed.” She tightened her game up in the final two sets, taking them with relative ease.
A Roof is Coming to New York
A big headline from the day was that the USTA announced plans to build two new courts and to put a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium. No clear timetable was given for when the roof will be built, but it will not be any time soon.
Player reactions to the news were mixed. Defending US Open women’s champion Serena Williams and John Isner were both quite pleased with the announcement. Serena said “It’s good to know that they’re going to go for it.” Isner said that the tournament needs it because “over a two-week period in the summer… chances are it’s going to rain at least a little bit.”
Defending US Open men’s champion Andy Murray was not as enthusiastic. He conceded that “for certain reasons it’s great,” but he also said that “I don’t particularly like going from indoors to outdoors to indoors.” Murray felt that rain delays used to be part of the majors, but “now that’s kind of going away gradually.” He also said that “if it did rain for three, four days straight, which is possible, then it would become a bit unfair for some of the guys [not playing on a court with a roof].”