Sunday, August 25, 2013

US Open Prediction: Another disappointing year for the American Men

 British hero Andy Murray finally won Wimbledon this year, ending a 77 year drought of a British champion to not only please, but electrify the U.K this summer. Over 73% of the U.K, which included avid tennis fans, to the casual viewer watched and cheered for Murray as he made history.

Meanwhile on American soil, we are facing the same problem the Brits had …although much less severe.

Recently in men's tennis, the Americans have hit a wall. It’s been coming for a while. Andy Roddick, the last American to win the US Open in 2003, has recently retired, leaving no true heir to carry the load of being the US No. 1.

Roddick, who will forever be known for having his Grand Slam success hampered by Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all-time, carried the American banner as a top 10 player in the world for a decade. He retired rather prematurely, due to complaints from American fans who expected him to win another Grand Slam.

In the Golden Era of American tennis, we dominated on both the men and women’s side of tennis. In the men’s side, we had John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Jimmy Connors, and many more in a 20 year period of amazing tennis. On the women’s side we had Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, the Williams Sisters (still dominating today), and many more.

As of late, American tennis has been quite disappointing on the men’s side.

A few weeks ago, there were no American men in the top 20 of the world rankings for the first time in 40 years. Fortunately, that was quickly nullified by a good result at the Western and Southern Open by American number one John Isner who catapulted back into the top 15.

Meanwhile, the women have been on fire. There are currently ten women in the top 100 of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, including world number 1, Serena Williams, the outright favorite to win this year's open. Aside from her, the American women are mostly young guns, ready to burst into the top 20 of the world.

So with the women doing their thing for the next couple of years, why don’t our male players have a legitimate chance of winning the US Open?

It’s simple, they, and the rest of the world, stand no chance against the elite. Since 2005, male tennis has been dominated by the “Big Four” consisted of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray. They’ve won the last 34 out of the last 35 majors, and continue to dominate tennis today on all surfaces throughout the calendar year.  

The one glimmer of hope for the US men is John Isner. When he is playing his game, the 6 foot 9 inch- giant has the ability to beat anyone, including the “Big Four”. Just two weeks ago he defeated World Number 1 Djokovic in an epic semifinal before narrowly losing to Rafael Nadal in the finals. His game consists of a huge serve and a bazooka-like forehand, and has seen him defeat Roger Federer and Djokovic multiple times in the past. His main problem has not been pulling off upsets, but his level of consistency at the Grand Slams. His best result at Flushing Meadows was a quarterfinal appearance in 2011.

So with the US Open commencing tomorrow at Flushing Meadows, New York, we ask ourselves, how long will it be until we have another men’s champion?

The answer: A while, maybe five to ten years, but we can certainly wait. The French haven’t had a Frenchman win their Grand Slam since 1983, and Australian Open has not been won an Aussie since 1976. It’s only been 10 years since Roddick won the US Open, so we definitely cannot complain. In the meantime, we shall just have to wait for our upcoming junior players to break out and shine when their time comes.

Note: Be sure to watch Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal play for the chance to win $3.6 million! The two superstars won this summer’s US Open Series Challenge, which will reward them with an additional $1 million should they win the last major of the year. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Steroid use in baseball…what’s new?

If you haven’t heard, another Major League Baseball (MLB) doping scandal has broken out.

What a surprise.

The anti-aging clinic in South Florida, Biogenesis has been linked with a handful of MLB players, supplying them with performing enhancing drugs over the past few years. The MLB has launched a full out investigation of the program and is currently in the process of suspending the players who have used the steroids. A new doping case shouldn't be unexpected news to the devoted MLB fan, since it has become a regular occurrence over the past several seasons.  

Just recently Ryan Braun, the National League’s most valuable player 2 years ago was banned for 65 games without pay for his use of drugs.  

It seems like baseball has taken the worst blows from legendary icons using performance enhancing drugs of any sort. From slugger Barry Bonds (who still denies his steroid-use to this day) to Roger Clemons and Manny Ramirez, the MLB has continued its battle with doping scandals over its history.    

Currently on the Biogenesis hot seat is Alex Rodriguez, one of the icons of the sport and poster-boy of the New York Yankees, the most valuable team in the league. A-Rod, who just turned 38, has been sidelined with a quad injury and has been working his way back to health. Now he is trying to maintain his innocence as he makes his return to the New York Yankees Monday night against the Chicago White Sox.

The MLB are expected to make a statement on Monday which will suspend Rodriguez through the end of the 2014 season without pay.  A-Rod currently has $96 million left on his contract with the Yankees, but would lose $34 million should he be suspended. Rodriguez, however has said that he will appeal the ruling.   

And on the eve of the announcement by the MLB, I say good luck to A-Rod with his appeal, because it’s not going to get far.  Just look at other athletes who have fought allegations of their performance-enhancing drugs use.

Cyclists Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis were recently stripped of all their Tour de France titles. Sprinters Marian Jones and Ben Johnson were both found to have doped during their careers and were forced to give up their accolades as well.  

MLB fans will have to see how this Biogenesis mess turns out, but in the meantime, let’s not focus on one player’s future, but the sport’s future in fighting drug abuse.