How US Tennis Players Have Given the Sport a Bad Rap

Solomon RyanCorrespondent IISeptember 19, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09:  Andy Roddick of the United States wipes his face during a break in play against Rafael Nadal of Spain during Day Twelve of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Embarrassing, disgraceful, disgusting, disappointing. This list of adjectives describing American tennis could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

The US Open is the only grand slam on United States' soil, so you would think that the Americans would respect the tournament even more.

Wrong. It is downright pathetic that almost every American who played in the US Open had some sort of meltdown.

Let’s start with the favored and highest ranked American in the tournament, Mardy Fish. Fish was playing the match of his life against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 16 and all roads were leading to victory after Fish was up two sets to one. Tsonga won the fourth set, and Fish was broken in the first game of the fifth set. 

All hell broke loose.

To take out his anger, Fish decided to go to the chair umpire and complain. What was the reason you ask? Before ESPN cut off the great commentary from Fish, he said, “I don’t speak French you dumb a**.”

Fish was referring to Tsonga’s box. I’m still trying to figure out why Fish was complaining. Has he never heard someone cheer before? If he doesn’t speak French, how does he know Tsonga’s box is talking to him and what they are saying?

The bottom line is Fish was just trying to blow off some steam. Calling out a player’s box and having no reasoning is embarrassing. Oh yeah, and Fish took an injury timeout as well in the fifth set.

Now, we switch over to the poster boy of meltdowns: the one and only Andy Roddick. Before the US Open, Roddick had an incident when he launched a ball into the stands and was docked a point.

Of course, he complained to the umpire. Almost every time Roddick is losing, he likes to go off.

This is minor, but at the US Open he complained about the courts being too wet and demanded to play on another court. Ferrer didn’t care one way or another. This is just an instance of Roddick being a baby and always getting his way.

Tennis may be seeing the next Andy Roddick in young Ryan Harrison. He completely lost it when he played Michael Llodra this year. Harrison believed the ball was out, but played the point and lost. After he lost the point, he threw his racket down and complained to the ump.

At the US Open, Harrison had a melt down for the ages. He was getting destroyed by Marin Cilic so he started kicking the ball, throwing his racket. Any bad behavior you can think of on a tennis court, Harrison basically did it.

Another young up-and-comer on the women’s side is Coco Vandeweghe. When she was about to lose her match against Jelena Jankovic, she essentially acted like a little girl. She threw her racket down and pretty much let Jankovic win the last game because she was so disappointed in her bad play.

One of the most disturbing acts was in the US Open finals. Two years ago, Serena Williams went into a tirade and physically threatened a linesperson during her match against Clijsters. She was fined and placed on a three-year suspension—not enough to prevent another unseemly outburst this year during the finals against Samantha Stosur.

Serena shouted “come on” after placing a shot as Stosur was playing the point. This is not allowed as it is considered to be deliberate interference of play. The umpire has the discretion to replay the point or to rule that the point should be forfeited by the person who screamed.

The umpire decided to give the point to Stosur. Everything crumbled from that point on.

Serena was already being dominated by Stosur, and it was obvious she had to try and do anything to win. Serena not only protested the ruling, but she had some choice words for the umpire during the changeover, including that the umpire was an evil person and should not look at her.

In the aftermath of yet another “Serena tirade,” the USTA gave her a $2,000 fine, an amount that is laughable under any circumstances, and particularly puzzling because Serena was already on suspension.

Many believe Serena should at least be suspended from playing in the US Open next year. Of course, many thought that should have been her punishment two years ago, but the money rules, and there is no doubt that Serena and all the other Americans bring in the crowds when they play on their home turf.

At the press conference, Serena acted as if nothing unusual had happened. She said she didn't remember what she said to the umpire. The expected apology never happened. She tweeted that her emotions got the best of her, but expressed no regret.

Not really an apology in my book.

Where almost all of the actions above would normally result in a suspension of fine, the truth is that players like Roddick and Serena sell tickets. In all sports, money is all that matters.

Even though Americans get a pass because of marketing, they haven't won any grand slams of late. There is a reason for this: their lack of maturity.

One of the best examples of a player growing up is Roger Federer. He used to throw his racket down and get upset very easily, but he doesn’t anymore. Now, he’s considered one of the best players of all-time.

I have never seen Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters or Rafael Nadal lose control. If Americans want to have any shot of winning a grand slam, they’ll have to grow up.


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