Much has been said about the downfall of tennis in the United States in recent years.
A country with one of the greatest traditions in the game has not dominated men's or women's tennis since Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi retired.
In 2011, the U.S. took a beating from Spain in the Davis Cup in Andy Roddick’s own backyard of Austin, Texas, and the ladies were relegated to the second tier in the Federation Cup.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has shown a great concern with the issue and has taken action, putting together a strong player-development program.
This program includes a clay-court game development wing, headed by renowned coach and former top-10 player José Higueras, with a clear goal of teaching a proper foundation to young Americans’ games.
Having two players among the top 20 may be a great deal for countries with less tradition in tennis, but it is certainly not the case for the U.S. Expectations are high, and the pressure for better results is definitely on.
When it comes to rankings, it hasn’t always been like this. There are some key records that still belong to great American players, such as Pete Sampras' 286 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world and his streak of six consecutive year-ends with the ATP world No. 1 ranking.
Rankings are often questionable, like Caroline Wozniacki reaching No. 1 without winning a major title, but they surely do say a lot about a player and ultimately reward who is the best week in, week out.
Let’s take a look at some less known but still remarkable records related to rankings that are still in possession of some great Americans players, led by the legendary Jimmy Connors.
The data in this article was researched by a great tennis blogger José Nilton Dalcim.
Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl—8 years
Sampras shares this one with Lendl.
He assumed the No. 1 spot for the first time on the week of April 12, 1993, and floated inside the top five until the week of November 13, 2000, when he left the top of the rankings for the last time.
Between March 3, 1980, and August 26, 1985, John McEnroe was consistently one of the top three tennis players in the world.
He was in and out of the No. 1 spot 13 times during that period.
The longest period ran from August 13, 1984, to August 19, 1985.
According to the ATP ranking history, John McEnroe is the only player to have done it.
This is an impressive record that is not likely to be broken or even repeated, since the top singles' players these days don’t play doubles, and vice versa.
When John McEnroe first became the No. 1 singles' player in the world in 1980, he was already the No. 1 in doubles.
He simultaneously held the No. 1 spots in singles and doubles eight different times, with the longest stretch reaching from September 17 to December 17, 1984.
Connors managed to keep himself inside the top 10 from 1973 to 1988.
In 1988, he fell to the 11 spot for one week and came right back to the top 10, where he remained until May 1, 1989.
Aaron Krickstein—17 years and 11 days, in 1984
Although he stayed there for only a week, Krickstein reached No. 9 in the world on August 13, 1984.
He returned to the top 10 a few times later in his career and was ranked as high as No. 6 in the world in 1990.
Aaron Krickstein—16 years and 4 months, in 1983
In addition to being the youngest player to finish a season as a top 100, this prodigy would be out of this pack for only one week in the next 13 years.
Jimmy Connors—12 years
Jimmy amazingly finished 12 consecutive years inside the top three, from 1973 to 1984.
Jimmy Connors—14 years
One more record held to this day by Connors, who failed to finish among the top five in only one year (1986) between 1973 and 1987.
Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi—16 years
Connors did it in consecutive years, between 1973 and 1988
Andre Agassi, whose career had more ups and downs, accomplished this feat in stretches from 1988 to 1992, 1994 to 1996 and 1998 to 2005.
Jimmy Connors—16 years
Once again, another great record held by the great Jimmy Connors, who finished every year from 1973 to 1988 as a top 10 player.
Andre Agassi—18 years
Between the years of 1987 and 2005, Agassi failed to finish among the top 25 players in the world only once, in 1997.