American Men make a run the first week

By Tom Doneleson BASN Columnist
Updated: September 5, 2011

Editor note: The Donelson made their annual trip to US Open for the opening two days. As mention in past notes, the first two days of a Tennis tournament can be the most interesting since everyone is there and no one is yet eliminated. You can see any number matches and it is like a smorgasbord for tennis fans.)

IOWA CITY, IOWA, (BASN)—In 2003, Andy Roddick had probably the greatest hard court season as he swept though the summer hard court matches before concluding with his only major win, the U.S. Open. From that point, Roddick was the king of the American Male Tennis players. In the shadow and often struggling to be in the top thirty with an occasional top 20 appearances was Mardy Fish.

Coming into this Open, Fish is now the number one American Tennis player as he took the mantle this year from Roddick. Fish opening match was against the German Tobias Kamke and he showed a little nerve as he lost the opening game to the German. After that, it was Fish’s night as he easily dominated the match to win in straight set.

What the first week showed, there is now potential for America Tennis on the male side. Jack Sock won his first major victory before losing to Andy Roddick in a battle of former Cornhuskers and Don Young showed that he may be ready for prime time as he marched to the second week.

Donald in action

Donald in action

The big story of the first week was the rise of another teen tennis prodigy Donald Young who made it to the second week after winning three tough matches including defeating 14th rank Stanislas Wawrinka in a five setter before beating veteran Juan Ignacio Chela in three straight set. A former number one world youth champion, Young never seemed to fulfill the potential promised but in this Open; he is making a run. Young disadvantage is that he is under 6 feet but he does have foot speed and pop in his shot that competes with the elites of the game. At 22, he may have finally reached the potential long promised.

In the first afternoon session, Young American star Ryan Harrison showed that at 19, he is not quite ready for prime time as he needed to play a near flawless game to advance against Marin Cilic. Harrison looked like a kid against a grownup but as my daughter reminded, Harrison is still a kid. Cilic shots were more powerful and more accurate, which explains why Cilic took only three sets to win. Harrison did not really become competitive until the third set when he lost in a tiebreak. Harrison shows promise to be a solid player but no one is ready to crown him as the next best thing for American Tennis.

As for Sock, he won his first match versus French player Marc Gicquel in four set and showed that he might be next great thing for United States Tennis. With a big booming serve and natural foot work, he showed all of this against Gicquel. Socks showed that he is not quite ready to beat the elites but he showed the potential with the needed skills to take his game to elite levels.

As for Roddick, he moved through toward fourth round as he started to put his game together after a summer that featured injuries that kept him from playing Along with Mardy Fish, Roddick represent America’s best hope in the second week but for the first time in a long time, American Tennis has three players in the second week.

James Blake showed flashes of the old Blake in the first round as he beat Holland Jesse Huta Galung in four sets. Using speed to maneuver his way around the courts, Blake outplayed and out thought his opponent. In bit of tennis brilliances, Blake forehand often nailed corners of the court, and beating his opponent to the punch. Galung had his moment in the fourth set to win but Blake held off Galung charges to secure his victory. Blake would fall to the fifth seeded David Ferrer in his next match.

Fish rise to the top of American Tennis came as a result of new dedication to the sport and extensive training that allowed him to win those long matches that he often lost before. For many years, Fish spent years around the top 20 while Roddick was consistently among the top five of the world elites and occasionally make runs for major titles.

Roddick often fell short since his magical run in the summer of 03 and this year, injuries have kept him from being in the top twenty. After a first rugged match, Roddick performance against Socks showed some of the old Roddick magic back. As for Fish, he defeated German Tobias Kamke in three easy sets, proceeded to take out Malek Jaziri in another three setters before defeating South African Kevin Anderson in three tight sets with two ending in tie break victories.

On the women side, Venus Williams is out due to an autoimmune disease and only Serena Williams is left standing going into the second round. The Serena Williams of old is back as she dominated the field with only the second set against number 4 seed Victoria Azarenka in which Azarneka took Williams to a tiebreak after Williams dominated the first set.