Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
When the U.S. Open men’s seeds were revealed Wednesday, only three American men made the cut.
That development came one day after No. 28 Serena Williams was the only American woman among the 32 seeds.
Mardy Fish is the highest-seeded American man at No. 8. 2003 champ Andy Roddick is No. 21 and 6-foot-10 John Isner stands tall at No. 28.
Spain leads the way with six seeds, France has five and Croatia and Serbia have three apiece, including No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, who comes into the Open with a 57-2 record on the season.
The 2011 champion figure to come from among the “Big Four” of Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 4 Andy Murray.
For Fish or another American to win the Open for the first time in eight years, it will take a Herculean effort.
“Mardy is obviously playing the best tennis of his life,” four-time U.S. Open champ John McEnroe said last week on an ESPN conference call. “He’s one of the best six, seven players in the world. The tough part for anyone that’s not at that elite level is they’d have to beat two or even three of the guys if they were actually going to win a major.
“To beat one of them is hard enough, to beat three of them potentially in a row would be mighty, mighty difficult.”
Roddick and Isner are playing this week at the inaugural Winston-Salem Open, and are both into the quarterfinals as they try to get some matches in before coming to Queens.
“Roddick is a big question mark right now with his lack of match play, and to me still playing a little bit too defensively,” Patrick McEnroe said last week. “I’d like to see him step in and try to cut the court off a little bit more. But he’s pretty stubborn, which is part of the reason he’s had a lot of success. But I think it’s getting in his way a little bit now.”
Both McEnroes also think Isner needs to play more aggressively.
“Isner’s a guy to me that the way he plays, he’s not as dangerous as he could be because he’s chosen to play a style typical of most of the other players,” John said “And me personally, I’d like to see him take more chances and allow guys to get in less of a rhythm.”
Ryan Harrison is a talented, young unseeded American but he must still develop his game over the next couple of years.
While the major storyline will revolve around the Big Four, the relative failure of the American men is always a hot topic over the Queens fortnight.
The only way that will change is for an American man to step up and make a big run.
“There’s no doubt that having Americans in final weekends of majors,” Patrick McEnroe said, “raises the ratings for television coverage.”
2011 US Open Men’s Singles Seeds
1. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
2. Rafael Nadal, Spain
3. Roger Federer, Switzerland
4. Andy Murray, Great Britain
5. David Ferrer, Spain
6. Robin Soderling, Sweden
7. Gael Monfils, France
8. Mardy Fish, United States
9. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
10. Nicolas Almagro, Spain
11. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
12. Gilles Simon, France
13. Richard Gasquet, France
14. Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
15. Viktor Troicki, Serbia
16. Mikhail Youzhny, Russia
17. Jurgen Melzer, Austria
18. Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina
19. Fernando Verdasco, Spain
20. Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia
21. Andy Roddick, United States
22. Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ukraine
23. Radek Stepanek, Czech Republic
24. Juan Ignacio Chela, Argentina
25. Feliciano Lopez, Spain
26. Florian Mayer, Germany
27. Marin Cilic, Croatia
28. John Isner, United States
29. Michael Llodra, France
30. Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia
31. Marcel Granollers, Spain
32. Ivan Dodig, Croatia
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.