Thursday, February 2, 2012

There goes Michael Russell, the last of the Americans

As I've been lying around with this injured calf muscle of mine (dang serving and volleying!), I've been wondering about something, which, to tell the truth, has been a niggling thought in the back of my head for years now:

Why don't American men on the ATP play more?

The only player in a main draw out of three events was Michael Russell, who lost in the second round in Montpellier, France, to Gael Monfils. So just like that, Bobby Reynolds remains the only male player from the U.S. to make a quarterfinal this year.


But if no one's playing, what are the chances of that improving?

I know next week is the first round of the Davis Cup, but not every American is on the team. Why wasn't Donald Young in France? Or Ryan Sweeting in Zagreb? But back to Davis Cup for a second: Why couldn't Ryan Harrison or John Isner dipped down to Chile and try to get in some clay-court practice before next weekend's tie against Switzerland?

I don't know what really goes into shaping a player's schedule, but playing only one warmup, if that, in Australia (which it seems many of the American players did) obviously didn't pay off. Skipping the options out there this week probably won't have much of a positive impact either. Odds are most of the Americans will reconvene in San Jose, but from the end of the first week of the Australian Open until then, you're almost looking at a month off.

It could be too late by then to start making up for lost time and lost opportunities.