Commentary

Why worry about U.S. tennis?

Updated: August 27, 2012, 11:31 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- The subject of the supposedly sad state of American tennis comes up every year at the U.S. Open.

Never mind that Serena Williams won at Wimbledon and several weeks later the Olympics at the All England Club. Or that the Bryan Brothers won a doubles gold. Or that John Isner, Andy Rodick, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey are all ranked among the top 30 ATP World Tour players.

Jack Sock, the 19-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., was asked if he gets these questions at tournaments, dinner conversations, cocktail parties?

"I can't drink cocktails," he said, smiling. "People ask it all the time. Until the results are there, until the rankings and everything are there, not a different answer to give."

Fair enough, but no one can accuse Sock of not doing his part to change things.

On Monday he took down the No. 22 seed, Florian Mayer, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2. The German retired in the third set, perhaps out of self-defense, complaining of dizziness.

Sock, who received a USTA wild card, is ranked No. 243 among ATP players.

These are the kinds of results expected of the 2010 U.S. Open junior champion -- the first American to capture the title since Andy Roddick. Last year here, Sock won his first-ever Grand Slam singles match, only to lose to Roddick in the second round.

Sock's chances for a third career major match win seem reasonable; Flavio Cipolla of Italy is next.

"Definitely winning last year gave me more confidence to try and advance in the draw as far as I can," Sock said. "I'm going to try to use that and go as far as I can this year."

Sharapova picks up the pieces: It has been 23 days since the beatdown at the hands of Serena Williams in the Olympic final.

After losing 6-0, 6-1, the Roland Garros champion skipped the tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, citing a stomach bug.

Monday she seemed to have processed that ignominious defeat, torching Melinda Czink 6-2, 6-2 in a 67-minute match.

"I had some tests done, some blood work, some ultrasound stuff," Sharapova explained. "The pain I was having … it was really weird. They told me I was fine, not pregnant. I'm like, 'Can I get my money back?'

"They said I should probably just rest. I think it was a sign that I needed a few weeks off."

Clean start for Federer: Strange that they'd never met before, but Roger Federer handled American Donald Young comfortably, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the day's last match on Arthur Ashe. It was Federer's sixth consecutive match win after losing the gold medal final to Andy Murray at Wimbledon. Federer, the No. 1 seed, is seeking an Open-era record sixth U.S. Open title.

Easy win for Fish: Mardy Fish, the No. 23 seed, was a straight-sets winner over Go Soeda. His past three appearances here have seen him go deep into the draw -- the quarterfinals in 2008 and the fourth round the past two years -- but he'll face a tough out in the second round. Nikolay Davydenko, a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist, awaits. Tim Smyczek won an all-American matchup with Bobby Reynolds, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in 3 hours, 25 minutes.

The price is right: Mallory Burdette, a 21-year-old from Macon, Ga., had won a total of $41,475 in her young tennis career. On Monday, she earned a cool $23,000 for her 6-4, 6-3 first-round victory over Timea Bacsinszky. Varvara Lepchenko, who reached the fourth round at the French Open and the third at Wimbledon, defeated Mathilde Johansson 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. This is Lepchenko's first time as a seed (No. 31) at a major. Melanie Oudin, a surprise quarterfinalist here in 2009, lost to No. 15 seed Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-0.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.