NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tennis needs an American male player to reach a grand slam final and this year’s U.S. Open is a golden opportunity for a local favorite to reach the Sept. 10 showdown, according to former champion Mats Wilander.
While John Isner, the 10th seed, was knocked out in the third round on Friday, fellow American and 17th seed Sam Querrey advanced to the fourth round by beating Radu Albot of Macedonia.
He is the highest seed in his quarter of the draw and in the bottom half, only France’s Lucas Pouille (16th) and Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta (12th) are better ranked.
“There is a lot of good players, some who are super good and the rest of them are about the same,” Swede Wilander, who is at the U.S. Open as an analyst for Eurosport, said in his daily chat with Reuters at Flushing Meadows.
”There is so little between them, especially when they play on slow hard courts, anyone can beat anyone pretty much.
“Take Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal (who are on the other side of the draw) out, the whole tournament is wide open. Which is great because we get to see new faces.”
Querrey, 29, is three wins away from the final.
No American male has won a grand slam title since Andy Roddick prevailed here in 2003 and the former world number one is also the last one to reach a major final, at Wimbledon in 2009.
“An American in the final is what you need,” said the former world number one.
”I was hoping that the young Americans would come through, that (Taylor) Fritz, (Frances) Tiafoe would take this opportunity but they had a tough draw.
”America needs to be part of men’s tennis, not just women’s tennis, in the world it makes the sport much bigger.
“I think it would be really cool if there was an American in the final, it’s been so long and it would do so much for the U.S. Tennis.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by XXXX