I recently wrote something about the lack of U.S. men in any draws at the beginning of the European clay-court season and how I couldn't figure out why they hadn't been having any success. And I quote from said entry:
"Serve big, serve kickers, set yourself up to blast forehands."
It looks like that's being taken to heart by the guys over the past few weeks as they're actually starting to play like dirtballers out there!
Take James Blake, for instance: Dude's been in a midst of a slump all year, but he managed to fight through his first-round match at Estoril and make it to the finals there, where he actually had match points. He couldn't pull it off, but it was still a good run. He's won his first two matches in Madrid this week and fought back for a really tough win against Ivo Karlovic yesterday.
Then there's Mardy Fish, who's beaten such players as Igor Andreev, Janko Tipsarevic and Ivan Navarro, and hung as tight as tight can get with Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco, none of which are easy tasks.
And you can't forget "The Newlywed" Andy Roddick, who made his season debut on the clay and fought off two match points against Tommy Haas to win. That's a great win for A-Rod, especially as Haas had gotten him four times in a row on the dirt.
I don't know how long the guys can keep up this good form, but it's nice to see them play like they realize success can be found this time of year.
UPDATE: Roger Federer blasted Blake this morning, but Blake has nothing to hang his head about; he's been playing good ball.
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.