Is There Any Hope for the American Men at the 2014 French Open?
Roland Garros has not been kind to the Americans for the past decade. This is largely due to the style of play that American men have developed.
They boast monster serves and powerful groundstrokes but lack the clay-court consistency. The Americans grow up playing on the fast hard courts and do not develop the grind-it-out mentality necessary for success on clay.
Closing the point out in one or two shots may work on the faster surfaces, but it is almost impossible to win this way at Roland Garros.
The lack of developing long-point construction is largely the reason why no American has made it to the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.
There are eight American men in the main draw this year, and John Isner is the only seeded American at No. 10. Will he or any of the other Americans advance to the quarterfinals this year?
It's time to look at how the Americans will fare at the 2014 French Open.
Almost Guaranteed First-Round Exits
Robby Ginepri has battled injuries over the past couple of years, but he is finally back in action at Roland Garros after earning a wild card. He is one of the only Americans to experience success here with two fourth-round appearances in 2008 and 2010.
However, his stay will not last long, as he meets Rafael Nadal in the first round.
Jack Sock was also given a very difficult first-round opponent in Nicolas Almagro. He lost to Almagro 6-2, 6-4 earlier this year on clay, and I don't see Sock winning more than a set against the clay-court specialist.
At age 36, Michael Russell will have experience on his side against Alejandro Gonzalez. On one hand, Russell is making his 32nd career Grand Slam appearance. On the other hand, Gonzalez is playing in just his second Grand Slam and first French Open.
Most of Gonzalez's challenger success came on clay. He will be the favorite, but I could see Russell giving him a fight. I give Russell a 30 percent chance to win his first match, but if he wins he will lose to Giles Simon in Round 2.
Steve Johnson will face a qualifier in his first match. He has had success on clay recently with a finals appearance in a challenger last week and a three-set loss to Fernando Verdasco in Houston. I like his chances to win his first match, but he will likely lose to Nicolas Almagro in Round 2.
Bradley Klahn received a great first-round draw, as he will take on Axel Michon. The Frenchman has never played a match above the challenger level. However, Klahn has never played at the French Open, and he had all of his success on hard courts in the challenger ranks. This match could go either way—if the American does advance he will likely lose to Kevin Anderson in the second round.
Good Draws to Reach the Third Round
Both Sam Querrey and Donald Young were dealt nice draws to advance a couple of rounds, but can they capitalize on them?
Neither is a natural clay-courter, but they both have the potential to reach the third round at Roland Garros.
Querrey will begin his tournament against Filippo Volandri. The aging Italian has a better history on clay, but he might be the coldest player on tour at just 1-12 on the year.
Querrey's next match would likely be against Dmitry Tursunov, who has never been great on clay and is just 8-14 on the year. Querrey has the ability to advance past his first two opponents.
However, Roger Federer would end his run in the third round.
Donald Young is always impossible to predict. He seems to win when you least expect it and lose when he should have no problem winning.
His first match is against Dudi Sela, who is just 6-24 on clay in his career. I like Young to win this match to face Feliciano Lopez.
Lopez might be the lone Spaniard whom you would not mind facing on clay. He is just 91-98 for his career on the surface. It would be a tough match for Young but not an impossible one for him to win.
If he does win his first two matches, he would likely lose in his next match to Stanislas Wawrinka.
John Isner has never advanced past the round of 32 in Paris, but he has a good draw to do it this year. He will play Pierre-Hugues Herbert first—who has just two wins in his career.
His second match will likely be against his marathon-match opponent Nicolas Mahut. Isner should be able to win his first two matches, but his third match will be a tough test.
He will likely take on the veteran Spaniard Tommy Robredo. While I could see this match going either way, I don't see Isner taking out both Robredo and then Tomas Berdych in the next round.
If he does manage to win both these matches, Roger Federer will likely be waiting in the quarterfinals.
It looks like we will be going another year without an American in the quarterfinals.
All stats courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com.