Fizzing balls, molasses grass, catgut gone synthetic.
Yadda yadda yadda - American male tennis domination fading alongside boy bands.
For a more thorough post mortem, see JA Allen’s expose.
In truth, a decade spent in the rankings pits was probably foreseeable. Tennis has never lured the nation’s fastest, highest and strongest.
It's seldom ever tried.
To pander would be a betrayal of the game’s exclusionary ethos. (Really, how many pick-up sets have ever been contested in downtowns everywhere?)
The 1990s saw Sampras and Agassi standing on the shoulders of giants, in a sport whose mass popularity had peaked with disco.
Consider: this year’s US Open final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic netted the second lowest ratings' slice ever, down 12 percent from last fall. The Monday night showdown earned less than half the share of the Bengals-Ravens game played on the next channel.
Theories abound – Americans prefer teams, playoffs, fouls, Tiger Woods. More talent in the raw, less serving-since-preschool. More convenient TV timeslots at least.
If two men are squaring off, boxing gloves are expected. Or at least a few broken chairs.
But the real problem is, a sport undervalued is a sport underplayed.
And the chic, multilingual Europeans now holding court are unlikely ambassadors for a U.S. resurgence. This is a ratings knife fight, not the United Nations.
An American renaissance awaits an American face.
Until then, 15 of the cheapest tricks men's tennis can filch from today’s more populist pastimes.
Hint - it may involve the iPhone 5.