The day the U.S. Open quarterfinals started without any Americans in singles — the first such event at an event held in 1881 — the man responsible for finding and grooming the nation’s Grand Slam champions tried to see the positive side.
Yes, Martin Blackman, U.S. Tennis Association’s General Manager of Player Development, admitted Tuesday at Flushing Meadows that there were no players in the draws after just a week of play.
He then got around to starting a sentence with one these words, just moments later: “But, when we look at our direction, especially on the men’s side, it’s the best place we’ve been for 15-20 years.”
The numbers are a part of his justification. There are currently 14 Americans in the top 100 ATP rankings. Last week’s second round saw 13 men reach the second round. This is the most since 1994, when there were 15.
“We have a large group of guys there. “We don’t have world beaters,” stated Reilly Opelka of the USA, who was seeded 22nd but lost in Monday’s fourth round. “I don’t believe we will see another Sampras-Agassi era with, just, dominance such as that again. It is rare for any country.”
This is part of Blackman’s view on the matter.
Simply put, there is a lot competition everywhere.
He said that in the 1970s there were five countries playing tennis professionally. He was wearing a blue jacket that had “USA” written in white capital letters above it. It’s a totally different world. At least, the standards for American tennis are not dropping. Grand Slam titles and top-10 players will always be our standards. The challenges are numerous. The game is now more global than ever before.”
The eye test is a part of his optimism.
He likes the 21-year old Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, who was unable to attend the U.S. Open due to COVID-19 testing. The 20-yearold Amanda Anisimova, the 2019 French Open semifinalist, and 17-yearold Coco Gauff, the 2021 French Open quarterfinalist. There are also a few other teens Blackman believes can move in the future, such as Robin Montgomery, Hailey Baptiste, and Hailey Baptiste.
Jenson Brooksby (20 years old), who was flirting with a upset of No. In the fourth round, Novak Djokovic defeated 21-year old Sebastian Korda. He reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in July, but was unable to continue because of food poisoning. Brandon Nakashima beat American John Isner in round one.
Brooksby, Opelka, 23-years-old, and Frances Tiafoe, 23, were the three U.S. men who reached the fourth round in the nation’s Grand Slam tournament. This was the first time the tournament has been held in a decade.
Brooksby was so impressed with Djokovic’s performance that he told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, “America has bright futures in tennis,” after beating him 1-6.6-3.6-1.
The U.S. Open presented a unique opportunity for new players to be seated at the table. Perhaps because of the absence of Serena Williams (“We didn’t have The Queen here”), Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic is currently the only male quarterfinalist to have won a Grand Slam singles title (20), while Barbora Krejcikova, the only female quarterfinalist (this year’s French Open), has one. Karolina Pliskova, the only woman left in the final eight, is the only one with at least one appearance in a major final. She was the runner up at the U.S. Open 2016 and Wimbledon in July.
Two players qualified to advance to the quarterfinals, Botic van der Zandschulp from the Netherlands and Emma Raducanu from Britain. Three quarterfinalists are teens: Carlos Alcaraz from Spain and Raducanu are both 18-years-old, while Leylah Fernandez from Canada is 19 years old.
Blackman knows that you have to go back to 2003 in order to find a Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open for an American man. This was Andy Roddick’s victory in New York.
“We’re all about winning. This is our culture, and it’s our business. Everything we do at the end of each day is binary. Blackman stated that you either win or lose.
He stated, “We need,” to see “better results at the Slams next Year.”