Sunday, March 10, 2013

U.S. could have no men in top 20 after Indian Wells

John Isner, shown at Indian Wells in 2012,
was upset by Lleyton Hewitt in this year's
tournament. Photo by Paul Bauman

   John Isner's slump continued Saturday, which is bad news for U.S. men's tennis.
   Very bad.
   The United States, a tennis power throughout the 1900s, already has no men in the top 10 in the world. Come March 18, when the next rankings are released, there's a good chance that the nation will have no one in the top 20.
   As John McEnroe once famously said, you cannot be serious.
   The 6-foot-9 (2.06-meter) Isner, who missed the Australian Open in January with a knee injury, lost to 32-year-old Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Hewitt won the title there an eternity ago -- in 2002 and 2003.
   "It was a tough match," Isner told reporters. "I knew it was going to be. Lleyton is such a good competitor. I felt like I could have played a little bit better. I needed to play very well to win today, and I don't feel like I necessarily did that. But I think Lleyton had a lot to do with it. It's very disappointing.
    "But I believe things will get better. ... Just gotta keep plugging away."
   Isner, the top American at No. 15, nevertheless will plummet in the rankings after reaching last year's final at Indian Wells. He beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, in the semifinals before losing to Roger Federer.
   The rankings operate on a rotating 52-week basis. Therefore, Isner's results from Indian Wells last year are replaced on the computer by his results there this year. Everything else being equal, he would have had to reach this year's final just to stay No. 15.
Sam Querrey, shown at Indian Wells in 2012,
likely will replace John Isner as the top-ranked
American man. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) native of San Francisco, likely will replace Isner as the top American. Querrey, though, faces a tall order -- literally -- trying to rise from No. 23 in the world. He is scheduled to meet 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) qualifier Ivo Karlovic of Croatia today in the second round after losing at that stage last year at Indian Wells.
   Karlovic, 34, held the record for the world's fastest serve at 156 mph (251 kph) until Samuel Groth of Australia was credited with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) missile last year.
   Although five other Americans reside in the top 100, the only possible bright spot is 20-year-old prospect Ryan Harrison at No. 73 in the world.
   No. 32 Mardy Fish is 31 years old with heart trouble. No. 56 Brian Baker, who returned to the tour last year after missing six years because of five major operations, underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in January. No. 70 Michael Russell is 34 years old and only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters) in an era of power. No. 99 James Blake is 33 years old.
   Meanwhile, two of Querrey's teammates on the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis last season also made news at Indian Wells on Saturday.
   South Africa's Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) right-hander playing in his second tournament since undergoing right elbow surgery, ousted fourth-seeded David Ferrer 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the second round.
   Fish, playing his first official match in six months because of an irregular heartbeat, teamed with Blake to beat Spaniards David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of doubles. Blake and Fish are wild cards.
   Fish is scheduled to play the first singles match of his comeback today against qualifier Bobby Reynolds, another American in his 30s, today in the second round. Fish, seeded 32nd, received a first-round bye. 
   Texas-Arlington def. Sacramento State 4-3 in Sacramento. No. 1 singles: Marek Marksoo (SS) def. Yauheni Yakauleu 7-6 (3), 6-3. Records: Texas-Arlington 4-4, Sac State 3-8.
   Sacramento State def. Northern Arizona 4-3 in Sacramento: No. 1 singles: Marek Marksoo (SS) def. Shaun Waters 6-4, 6-4. Records: Sac State 4-8, Northern Arizona 2-11.
   Nevada def. UC Davis 5-2 in Davis. No. 1 singles: Kyle Miller (UCD) def. Victor Ouvrard 7-6, 6-3. Records: Nevada 7-4, UC Davis 6-7.
   Pacific def. Santa Clara 4-3 in Santa Clara. No. 1 singles: No. 66 John Lamble (SC) def. Alex Golding 6-1, 6-3. Records: Pacific 8-4, Santa Clara 10-5.
   Boise State def. USF 6-1 in San Francisco. No. 1 singles: No. 30 Andrew Bettles (BSU) def. Thai Tu 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 10-6 match tiebreaker.
   No. 18 Cal def. No. 31 Washington in Berkeley. No. 1 singles: No. 8 Anett Schutting (C) def. No. 124 Andjela Nemcevic 6-1, 6-1. Records: Cal 7-4, Washington 8-5.
   No. 20 Stanford def. No. 73 Washington State 7-0 at Stanford. No. 1 singles: No. 87 Nicole Gibbs (S) def. Liudmila Vasilieva 6-1, 6-1. Records: Stanford 7-2, Washington State 10-4.
   No. 66 San Jose State def. Southern Utah 7-0 in San Jose. No. 1 singles: Sebastiani Leon Chao (SJS) def. Olya Kunz 6-1, 6-2. Records: San Jose State 8-4, Southern Utah 2-3.
   USF def. Northern Arizona 7-0 in San Francisco. No. 1 singles: Andrea Ka (USF) def. Ghizelene Doballah 6-0, 6-0. Records: USF 6-3, Northern Arizona 6-7.

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