Any miracles? The U.S. men will go to Madrid

John Isner

Next week, in Madrid, the American men will knock it up in the early rouds, and hopefully, they can go further. But, there is the opposite and they can lose quickly.  

Finally, there are more Americans who traveled to Europe for the clay court season. The current players are so-so. On the hardcourts, they are better, because they can go for the winners early. But, on clay, which is slower, and you have to slide, the matches and points are longer and can mean hours-long matches. But why not test it? Currently, the US men are not in the top-20. But, at least give it an effort.

John Isner is ranked No. 38, and the huge hitter has rarely gone deep on clay. He did win Miami (on the hardcourts), and he has gone into the semis at Wimbledon (on grass), pounding ace after ace. But, in the past year and a half, he hasn’t played much. Now, he has to bear up. He could face Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, and the Spaniard revels clay. That is a huge challenge for Isner.   

Taylor Fritz is ranked No. 30, and he is still young, but he plays every week. Believe it or not, in Monte Carlo, he lost to Bautista Agut is two sets. OK, that was alright, and while he can lose early, at least he almost upset Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Australian Open, in a famous five-setter. And in Doha, he beat David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov. So he was psyched. Over the past three years, he has only won a couple matches on the dirt. That is problematic. He has to slide more, and go at the net, and put it away. He will face against Pablo Carreno Busta. Ugh?
Two more American guys: Reilly Opelka is very lofty, and he can crack it, but he hasn’t done much this year. He lost to Fritz in five sets at the Aussie Open. Just like Fritz, Opelka does does not like clay, but he did have a some good wins in 2020 on the hardcourts, when he upset Matteo Berrettini at Cincinnati. In Madrid, he will face Dominik Koepfer in the first round, and if he wins — which would be groove — he could face Cristian Garin, who is ranked No. 22. For Opelka, that would be a miracle.

Tommy Paul also travels lot, and he is making an effort. If he beats Pedro Martinez, then will face the red hot No. 7 Andrey Rublev. What a imposing challenge.

Here are four guys who will make it to the end of Madrid: Rafa Nadal (the favorite), Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.