The next Grand Slam winner in the US will likely come from Florida

The next Grand Slam winner in the US will likely come from Florida

The best American tennis players are formed in Florida. In the ever-warm Sunshine State, a hopeful new generation of men from the United States will play a home game this week at the Miami Open, a major stop on the calendar.

Quinn van der Velden

With the Indian Wells championship, just earlier in Western California, Miami is vying for its unofficial fifth major championship title. Since 2019, the largest games have been held at the Miami Dolphins football stadium, as the organizers built a smaller stadium, which still has a capacity of 14,000 spectators. The rest of the lanes are in the parking lot.

The fact that US tennis is experiencing a new boom can be seen in the field of participants in Miami: no fewer than thirty Americans started the singles tournament last week. Fourteen men and sixteen women among them. Almost all of them were trained in Florida, an influential state in American and world tennis as well.

Most of the great American players (players like Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Coco Gauff) live in the state, where many former players also remain after their careers. In Miami, Serena Williams, who stopped last year, is enjoying her retirement. Miami was Novak Djokovic’s second residence until a vaccination refusal prevented him from entering the country. The Serb is missing in Miami, as he was missing in Indian Wells.

Politeri School

Florida has become a breeding ground for American tennis due to its pleasant climate, which has attracted leading coaches to the state. Jamie Evert was a pioneer, mentoring his daughter Kris (an eighteen-time Grand Slam winner) and others in Fort Lauderdale.

In 1977 Nick Bollettieri opened his famous tennis school in Bradenton. The American, known for his carnal discipline, has coached compatriots Andre Agassi and Jim Courier to the world’s top, but has also taken foreigners like Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Marcelo Rios and Tommy Haas under his wing. Politieri passed away late last year at the age of 91 in Bradenton, where his school lives under the name IMG Academy.

Almost every American tennis success story has its origins in Florida. The Williams sisters trained (in part) there, and Pete Sampras perfected his game there. With Sampras, Agassi and, to a lesser extent, Courier and Michael Chang, the Americans dominated men’s tennis in the 1990s. What followed was a two-decade drought. The final cramp came in 2003 when Andy Roddick won the US Open. Roddick remains the last American Grand Slam winner.

“We get asked a lot about it and it’s a little annoying,” world number 10 Fritz said in Miami. “But maybe it’s because we now have more favorites to win a major. It can now happen in any major championship.”

Sebastian Korda was frantic after defeating Hubert Hurkacz at the Australian Open.AFP photo

In the last two major tournaments, an American has reached the semifinals: Francis Tiafoe at the US Open, Tommy Paul at the Australian Open. Young Sebastian Korda (22) and Ben Chilton (20) reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne. In the last edition of Wimbledon, 8 of the last 32 players held US passports.

The American tennis players know each other from the National Training Center in Florida. In 2017, the USTA Tennis Association opened a new complex in Orlando with one hundred courts, some with data technology, for nearly €60 million. Major racket manufacturers Wilson, Head and Babolat test their latest discoveries there. The training center aims to push American tennis to new heights.

Nine in the top fifty

The men are striving to achieve the success that their female colleagues have enjoyed in recent decades, although it has been almost exclusively due to Venus and Serena Williams. Neither the new Pete Sampras nor Andre Agassi has risen yet, at the moment the American men are mainly excelling in the show. Nine Americans are in the top fifty of the world rankings, more than any other country. Only 25-year-old Fritz is in the top 10, the first American since Roddick in 2009.

The Tiafoe ceiling, but particularly on the Korda and perhaps the Shelton, seems to be higher. America’s hopes rest on them. Korda, the son of former Grand Slam winner Peter Korda, has the best chance of following in Roddick’s footsteps, according to former TV player and analyst John McEnroe.

Also promising is Chilton’s lead, the world No. 39 who fell outside the top 500 a year ago. Before he traveled to the Australian Open earlier this year, the southpaw’s Shelton had never left the United States. Immediately reached the quarterfinals. At the Hard Court Championships in Miami, he traveled to the second round this past weekend.

The American won the national title in college tennis last year on behalf of the University of Florida, where he was coached by his father, former pro Brian Shelton. Ben, who stands at 1.93m, won the championships on familiar ground: the Orlando Training Complex track. It was in Florida, like many before him, that he began his professional career.

See also  Alcaraz wins first grassland title over Queen's, overtakes Djokovic in world rankings, boosts confidence at Wimbledon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *