The 2011 U.S. Open was certainly one to remember for tennis fans around the world. Whether it was the intense match play, the chaotic weather, or even the 9-11 ceremony, fans will remember this Open for years to come. Of course we remember the epic final between world number one Novak Djokovic from Serbia and world number two Rafael Nadal from Spain; however, what should be given more attention than it’s getting is how well our young American players performed at the final Grand Slam of the year. Over the years, we’ve come to depend on names like Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Serena and Venus Williams. The truth is that these players aren’t getting any younger, and we need fresh American talent to step up and represent the United States.
This year’s U.S. Open gave us a look at a few names we’ve heard of, such as Donald Young and Ryan Harrison, but also introduced us to players such as Jack Sock, Christina McHale, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and more.
The summer of 2011 was one to remember for Donald Young, who we’ve been waiting to emerge as the talent we all thought he would be when he burst onto the ATP Circuit almost five years ago. Since the conclusion of Wimbledon, Young was 10-4 in his last 14 matches, including a career-best semifinal run in the Legg Mason Classic where he fell to eventual champion Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. At the 2011 U.S. Open, Young made it to the fourth round where he picked up quality wins over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and veteran Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela before falling to fourth seeded Andy Murray of Great Britain. It appears as if Young may finally be on his way to becoming the player we thought he’d be.
Though Ryan Harrison possesses a great deal of talent, the young American fell in the opening round to Marin Cilic of Croatia. Harrison, who some think has a bit of a childish cocky-like attitude, still has massive potential, and we’ll definitely be on the lookout for him in the 2012 season.
Lastly on the men’s side is 19-year-old Jack Sock from Lincoln, Neb. Yes Lincoln, Neb. as in where Andy Roddick hails from. In fact, the two met in the second round of this year’s Open, where the youngster fell in straight sets to the veteran American. However, Sock did go on to win the mixed-doubles title with American Melanie Oudin. This result was a complete shocker, as the two players never teamed up before the U.S. Open. Oudin who made herself famous for her performance at the U.S. Open a few years back, has struggled since, but with the U.S. mixed-doubles championship now under her belt, perhaps this will kick-start a quality 2012 season.
In women’s singles, we were introduced to players such as Christina McHale, who upset the eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France in the second round before losing to Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in the following round.
Madison Keys showed the fans her potential with a tough three set match against veteran Czech Lucie Safarova. Hopefully, she can continue to improve in the upcoming years and make a name for herself.
Sloane Stephens had a quality tournament making it to the third round before falling to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic. However, Stephens upset Israeli veteran Shahar Peer in the second round, which probably was her best career victory to date. American Vania King also reached the third round where she fell to the number one seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. King, who started slow in her singles career, has picked up her play over the past year, so look for her to continue to rise in the rankings.
Lastly is Irina Falconi who took out Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova in a grueling three-set match, before falling to Wimbledon semifinalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the third round.
With all this new young talent, the U.S. finally has something to look forward to in the future. It’s only a matter of time before the Americans we’re used to seeing, such as Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, James Blake, Serena and Venus Williams are all retired. For a few years now, Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey have made a name for themselves, however, they need some help. The United States remains hopeful for that next big player, whether on the men’s or women’s side, and with the emergence of players like Ryan Harrison, Donald Young, Jack Sock, Christina McHale, Sloan Stephens, and all the rest, that success is closer than farther.