U.S. male tennis stars in Grand Slam title drought

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U.S. male tennis stars in Grand Slam title drought

American tennis, once the envy of the world, is now propped up by Serena and Venus Williams on the women’s side and mired in the longest U.S. Grand Slam men’s singles title drought.

As the U.S. Open returns to the Flushing Meadows hard courts for the U.S. Open fortnight that starts on Monday, it has been nine years since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open at age 21, taking the baton from Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

But since then, Swiss legend Roger Federer has become a 17-time Grand Slam winner, Spain’s Rafael Nadal has won 11 Slam crowns and Serbian Novak Djokovic has captured five, including four of the past seven and the 2011 U.S. Open.

“It’s going to take some great tennis to crack those top three,” Roddick said. “They are three of the best we’ve seen ever and they are certainly playing to it right now.”

Since Russian Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open, the only men’s Slam singles title not won by the game’s three current superstars was by Juan Martin de Potro of Argentina in a five-set upset of Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final bout.

Roddick, a three-time Wimbledon finalist since his lone Grand Slam title, sees no woes for U.S. men’s tennis any more than any nation that lacks Federer, Djokovic or Nadal, whose sore knees will keep him out of this year’s U.S. Open.

“I think it’s healthy,” Roddick said of U.S. men’s tennis. “The question is always a tough one for me to answer because we deal in the context of a worldwide talent pool, which isn’t the case with a lot of sports the U.S. focuses on.”

U.S. fans went from the era of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe to one dominated by Agassi and Sampras. Now U.S. men have gone a record 35 Grand Slams in a row without a title, and counting.

Former World No. 1 Roddick, now ranked 21st, turns 30 on Thursday. He has 32 career singles titles and at least one in each of the past 12 seasons and brings some confidence to New York after wins at Queen’s and Atlanta.

“The last two months has been the best tennis I have played this year,” Roddick said. “I’ve been in the [U.S. Open] quarters eight times. I feel like I can do it. I’ve done it many times.”

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