Friday 15 December 2017 / 11:39 AM

Australia’s Grand Slam Drought

As Andy Murray lifted the coveted Wimbledon trophy, Great Britain rejoiced as it broke a 77-year male Grand Slam drought.

Not since Fred Perry has a British male won a Grand Slam title and bar John Lloyd’s appearance in the 1977 Australian Open final (he lost to Vitas Gerulatias), no British bloke came close until Murray (Tim Henman made 6 semi finals but no Grand Slam finals).

Ironically while Wimbledon, the US, Australian and French Opens’ are the pinnacle tournaments in tennis, each countries playing stocks are struggling to uphold the eminence of these four countries.

Except Andy Murray, no other British male is ranked in the ATP top 250.

No United States player has won a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick’s hometown triumph in 2003. Additionally, for the first time this year, no American male player had made it past the third round of Wimbledon.

While France currently has 13 players inside the top 100, Yannick Noah in 1983 remains the last Frenchman to achieve Grand Slam glory.

What about Australia?

From our heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s when Aussie men captured 51 of the 80 available Grand Slam titles and 14 Davis Cup titles, Australia has been dragged down by global and local competition.

Since 1969, when Rod Laver completed his second individual grand slam, only six men have taken home a Grand Slam trophy (Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Mark Edmondson, Pat Cash, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt) – no triumphs in the last decade.

We have also seen a decline in the amount of top players in this nation, with only one player ranked in the Top 50 at the moment.

Tennis in this country suffers from the irresistible dollars of the four football codes, along with the globalisation of the game in which more countries are putting extra money into developing talent.

Add an incompetent administration that focused on maximising profits of the Open rather than game expansion and you have a perfect recipe for becoming irrelevant.

Lleyton Hewitt is 32, and while we still expect him to lead our Grand Slam and Davis Cup charge, he is physically almost gone.

Who is Australia’s next male Grand Slam champion and when will he emerge?

The easy answer to that question is the eccentric Bernard Tomic.

The brash 20-year old was at one stage the only teenager inside the top 100.

Tomic’s good Australian Open and Wimbledon campaigns have been marred by controversy and his inability to break through at other major tournaments.

However, he is still raw and after seeing him at Wimbledon this year, he is a great chance of being Australia’s best player for the next decade.

Behind Tomic, there is a lot of promising, yet unknown talent that may emerge over the next five years.

Marinko Matsevic has shown he has the game to mix it with the best, but he needs to actually win in the first round of a Gland Slam before setting his sights on glory.

James Duckworth, Matthew Ebden and John Millman all have shown some promise but are yet to capitalise on it.

At junior level, Luke Saville and Nick Kyrgios have at times dominated the junior scene, although haven’t begun playing full time senior tennis, which has proven to be a difficult transition for many.

While there are nuggets of gold out on the tour, a lot of dirt needs to be cleared off them.

With that in mind, there is no sure-fire answer as to when Australia will next taste male Grand Slam glory.

Australia is in a state of flux as the golden generation is lost to incompetence and the new kids on the block slowly, but surely make a name for themselves.

Hopefully those on the rise will succeed.

Only time will tell.

 

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John Hunt

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