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By Akshay Kohli
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It was 1999, when Andre Agassi lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires as he became the most recent American champion in French Open history. Not many would have expected that after 13 years, there would be NO AMERICAN in the third round of Roland Garros!
Clay has not been amongst the favorites of Americans for quite some time now and it shows. The place which has gives the more aggressive players in the world has not produced players who can match the standards set by the Europeans on clay. Big booming serves, approaching the net to finish off the points gets neutralized by the high bounce, slow red clay, giving most of the players the time to get behind the ball and finish it.
In 2011, we saw only Mardy Fish making it to the third round here, rather winning the first round, it has become really obvious that clay is something Americans are not at all comfortable with. This year has been worse, not even one American in the third round! Americans are not comfortable moving, sliding and working the long points on clay! They definitely know their way on hard and grass, with their serves and volleys and big forehand, but its a different ball game on clay.
Though Ryan Harrison and John Isner are a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, they too, are struggling a bit. Isner, came into the limelight and proved that he is great prospect for American tennis on clay with his 5 set marathon last year in the opening round against multiple time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and his victory over Roger Federer in their Davis Cup tie, but he too is erratic on clay as he tries mixing the hard court style of play to the clay court style.
With only 3 American Roland Garros champions in the Open Era( Jim Courier won it twice), and with players like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer along with some really great clay court players like David Ferrer still on tour, it is hard to see an American reaching really deep into this Grand Slam unless some miracle happens!
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