American Major Breakthrough May Be Coming Soon

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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, March 21, 2023

MIAMI—American men are knocking on the major door.

Today, a pair of powerful Americans nearly knocked out the net in Miami.

More: Alcaraz’s Aim for Sunshine Double

Australian Open quarterfinalist Ben Shelton and serve-and-volleyer Maxime Cressy hit together in a Miami Open practice session showcasing booming serves.

After one Cressy first serve crashed into the top of the tape sounding almost as loud as a shotgun blast, Shelton turned and said “you hear that?”

It’s been 20 years since Andy Roddick defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero to win the 2003 US Open.

Roddick remains the last American man to raise a Grand Slam singles title, but American men including Shelton and Cressy are making noise.

While American men’s tennis has looked red, white and bruised at times during that 20-year Grand Slam singles drought, signs of U.S. men’s resurgence are all around.

Taylor Fritz won his maiden Masters at Indian Wells last March and went on to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Frances Tiafoe toppled Rafael Nadal in New York en route to his maiden major semifinal at the US Open where he lost to eventual-champion Carlos Alcaraz and Tommy Paul is coming off his first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open last January.

Survey the ATP rankings and you’ll find 13 Americans in the Top 100— most of any nation.

Given recent success, Taylor Fritz suggests we could see an American man breakthrough to master a major possibly this year.

“We’ve been asked that stuff—it’s definitely pretty old, but we’ll probably be getting asked more because I think now people are seeing between a couple of us there’s real Slam contenders,” Fritz told the media in Miami today. “And realistically any of the upcoming Slams could potentially be the one.

“It’s not too crazy to believe that one of us might just take one of these [2023 Grand Slam titles].”

Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst John McEnroe said he believes an American man can win a Grand Slam in the next 18 months. McEnroe calls Sebastian Korda “potentially the most talented of all the young Americans with the biggest upside.”

At the Australian Open in January, Paul topped 24th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to join Korda and Shelton in the quarterfinals in Melbourne.

That victory gave the U.S. men three quarterfinalists at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2005 US Open when Andre Agassi, Miami Open tournament director James Blake and Robby Ginepri did it and three quarterfinalists at the Australian Open for the first time since 2000 when Agassi, Sampras former Davis Cup hero Chris Woodruff achieved the feat.

Fritz said his buddy, Paul, is more polished and professional now and a true contender.

“I’ve always thought Tommy was a really good player,” Fritz told the media in Miami tody. “I always thought when he was 30 in the world or 40 in the world I always thought he was way better than that.

“I always know the way he’s playing it’s not crazy to me but he’s showing everyone else I think he’s eliminated a lot of small lapses giving away a break stuff like that. He’s tightened the game up a a lot it’s always been there.

“Between all of us like Frances, Tommy, Reilly we’re all really close friends we like to have fun and mess with each other. At the end of the day, we all are I guess competitive with each other. But I feel like we don’t really talk about it, we just let that part come out on the court when we play against each other but off the court we’re all good friends.”

Photo credit: Getty

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