American twin towers stand a chance?
May, 18, 2010
By Ravi Ubha, ESPN.com | ESPN.com
3. What hope for the American men?
Remember 2007, when the U.S. men went 0-for-9 in the first round at Roland Garros? It was the first time since 1973 at the Australian Open no American men landed in the second round at a major -- and none was entered that year in Oz.
Although the French Open isn't about to become the U.S.'s most successful Slam, there's reason to be optimistic days before the 2010 edition begins, and that's largely due to the towering duo of John Isner and Sam Querrey.
Isner won his first title in Auckland in January and backed up his showing at the U.S. Open, getting to another fourth round at the Australian Open. The 6-foot-9 slugger hasn't stopped: He was a point away from winning a title on clay in Belgrade and reached the third round in Madrid despite a hellish journey from Serbia to Spain.
Querrey flourished last year, only to be derailed in the fall because of an arm injury suffered in bizarre fashion. Three straight losses greeted the 6-foot-6 Californian to start 2010. Beginning in San Jose, Querrey resumed his rise and topped Isner in Belgrade.
Expect both to at least live up to their seeding, which means getting to the third round. How far they go beyond that is the question. Isner and Querrey are still in the early stages of their careers and keen to climb the rankings, but playing four straight weeks heading into the French (Rome, Belgrade, Madrid and the World Team Cup) isn't advisable, especially for Isner. Given the good friends want to qualify for the year-end championships in doubles, they will probably play doubles, too, in Paris.
Andy Roddick, meanwhile, had no prep at all, spending time with his wife in Hawaii and bailing from Rome due to illness. The French Open is indeed Roddick's lowest priority among the Slams, but the 27-year-old advanced to a career-best fourth round in 2009. Roddick remains one of the tour's best competitors, so if he avoids a floater early, he could land there again, even with the recent inactivity. And the world No. 6 surely wants to get a few matches in, on any surface, heading into the AEGON Championships (Queen's) and Wimbledon. Practice is one thing; matches are another.
Spare a thought for the ailing James Blake, who will miss his first major in six years. A right knee injury has seen the 30-year-old's ranking plummet to 82nd, his lowest spot since August 2005, when he sat at 101st. He'll slip a lot further if unable to defend his points from the Queen's final.