We're eight days into the 2012 Australian Open, and the main singles fields, both men's and women's, are already devoid of American representation.
Serena Williams, who came into the first Grand Slam as the No. 12 seed, was the last hope for the Red, White and Blue to see someone through to quarterfinals, but fell far short on Monday. The five-time Australian Open champion was beaten soundly at Rod Laver Arena by unseeded Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-3.
The 23-year-old Makarova is currently ranked No. 56 in the world by the WTA and had never before reached the quarterfinal round at a Grand Slam event.
With sister Venus sidelined by an autoimmune disorder, Serena had been the lone legitimate hope for US women's tennis to regain its former glory at Melbourne Park.
Of course, Serena was hardly the only American to disappoint down under. On the men's side, Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish were both out of the running after the second round, while John Isner only managed to play on until the third.
And it's not as though the top five of American tennis are exactly of age to collect Grand Slams and carry the nation's torch much further. Venus (31) and Serena (30) are well past their prime, while Roddick (29) and Fish (30) spent the bulk of their best years languishing in disappointment. The 26-year-old Isner would appear to be the best bet to hoist trophies in the coming years, but even he's a bit old to be a star in a young person's sport and has yet to advance past the quarterfinal round in any given Grand Slam.
As such, it may be quite a while longer before the Yanks are back on top. On the men's side, 24-year-old Sam Querrey and 19-year-old Ryan Harrison have nary an appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal between them. The same could be said for 22-year-olds Vania King, Jamie Hampton and 19-year-old Christina Hale, the presumed "Next Big Things" in American women's tennis.
For now, tennis fans in the States will have to settle for a distinctly international flavor on the courts, with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters calling the shots.