Oct/19

31

Frenchmen are Making American Men Not Look So Bad

Yannick Noah is the last Frenchman to win a slam, the 1983 French Open. Since that far-gone time (36 years ago), there have been only three Frenchmen who had a finals chance of winning a slam: Henri Leconte, Arnaud Clement and Jo-Willy Tsonga. The charismatic Tsonga is the last Frenchman to reach a slam finals and that was more than 10 years ago in 2008.

Of course, no American man has reached a slam finals since Andy Roddick in 2009. In the current crop of American men, only John Isner and Sam Querrey have reached a slam semis while of the current crop of Frenchmen, Tsonga. Gaels Monfils and Richard Gasquet have all reached slam semis.

This blight or inability to develop champions is true with Frenchwomen while it is not with American women. Only Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli won slams and together they won a total of three since 2006 while Serena and Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens have won a total of 31 since 2000.

But the question has to be asked, in two countries known for their tennis academies, why has there been such a dearth of champion men’s players? In the United States, a country of 300 million, and tennis academies up the yin-yang with countless in both Florida and California, the answer is manifold: tennis doesn’t attract the best male athletes; tennis is a very expensive sport; the Big 5 has dominated the men’s game; the best American male players aren’t hungry enough; American male players are too one-dimensional often not playing on clay courts enough; and there’s a glut of popular sports in the U.S. and tennis isn’t high on the list.

As for the Frenchmen (out of total population of 67 million) and their near slam-less four decades (I mean even Ecuador has won more slams than the French in men’s tennis in the last 20 years–Andres Gomez); one reason posited for the Frenchmen’s inability to win a slam is Benoit Paire–or what Paire represents about the French culture.

One article on the subject mused thusly: “Benoit is so painfully French with his sweaty beard, arrogant liaise, and general attitude towards everyone – and he give literally no fucks. If you have ever watched a Benoit Paire match, you know exactly what I am talking about. The only thing as French as Benoit Paire are croissants. Croissants are so fucking French. They’re buttery pastries that parade themselves around as a breakfast food. Sometimes they even have chocolate in them. News flash, that’s cake for breakfast. So French. Yet, as the graph shows, croissants do actually give slightly more fucks than the likes of Bonoit and Gael Monfils.”

Both Tsonga and Lucas Pouille beat Rafael Nadal, 19-slam winner, in the second week of slams, but while both seem to be having outstanding lives (what country beats Frenchmen for having girlfriends and wives in their player’s box?), they are coming up short more and more on the court. Both Tsonga and Monfils are in the quarterfinals of the current Paris Open Masters, but neither will be among the final eight players in the ATP Finals in London next week. And no American male will star in that event either. The last American man to play in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals was Jack Sock in 2017. Since then, Sock has won a total of 10 matches in two years.

Ugh, double Ugh! Pouah!

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87 comments

  • Harold · November 2, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Dan,

    2012 Aus Open vs Isner…

    There are no bad tennis eras, some are just way more historic than others…

    the stretch between Sampras and Fed, did not give us a player with more than 3 slams. From Sampras’s first slam in 90, only two people Agassi, and Courier won 4 or more Majors pre Fed. Generation before, Lendl, Mats, Edberg, Becker, 27 Majors from the 4 of them (82-92)

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Ok if a big player gets a positive test it’s going public. It would tarnish the men’s tour irreparably and I’d probably stick to challengers from then on out. I’ve wondered publicly on this site, but the proof is in the pudding. And yeah I do believe that wouldn’t be sealed and chucked, it would go public. Too big a thing to keep under wraps. As it is we’re fortunate the big players look pretty human.

    I’ve wondered but there’s never been anything. So until shown otherwise it’s not something. If Rubin’s blog shows otherwise then that would be something. It isn’t. If it is then they should ban every player who does it.

  • Harold · November 2, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    How did Agassi not fail a test? Would the USTA or ATP have outed Agassi for “ Meth” use? Not so sure..

    Wilander got popped w/ Karel Novacek. for Cocaine, Wilander wasnt a top player by then..6 month suspension

  • Hartt · November 2, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Players do get away with some outrageous explanations for a positive test. Errani is a great example, and Gasquet’s kissing excuse was almost as good.

  • Hartt · November 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    At least Errani’s ban was increased from 2 to 10 months, but seriously, her mother’s medication magically found its way into the family meal?

    “The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted medication taken by her mother found its way into a family meal.

    But it said Errani, 31, was guilty of a “light degree of fault” which justified a 10-month ban.” (bbc)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    You get some wacky excuses for positive drug tests in boxing. Roy Jones Jr said his positive test was from using a nasal decongestant, then he later added a second excuse – Ripped Fuel supplement. Canelo Alvarez said he ate tainted meat in Mexico. Gasquet’s excuse about kissing a girl who used coke remains the all time greatest most creative excuse.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Well said, Harold, no bad eras in tennis, some are more historical …

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Andrew if a positive test by a big star player would go public, why won’t they release all the players who use illegal drugs via TUE (therapeutic use exemption)? Why is the TUE information being kept secret? We only know about it because of the Russian hackers.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Yes her name is Maria Sharapova and yes, she doped and no, she is no longer the same player. And yes her thing was a big deal. A huge one.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Gasquet’s explanation was AMAZING. I almost felt like shaking his hand and congratulating him

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    Sharapova got Lance Armstronged and no she is not the same player anymore. I have an inside scoop that if true, could Lance Armstrong her entire career.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Andrew, AMAZING it was indeed, it’s the greatest excuse ever made and the greatest excuse that ever will be made :0

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Indeed the Gasquet excuse is glorious! To this day I am like encore, Gasquet, encore!!! No one will ever match that!

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 1:44 am

    There is a much better excuse than Gasquet’s but unfortunately I can’t put it in writing here.

    Scoop will probably know who I mean. The person concerned was allowed to give evidence/excuse privately.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Catherine, No I don’t know this golden excuse you are talking about, please do tell more, don’t have to give the name.

  • Harold · November 3, 2019 at 10:00 am

    One last thing on “ who you beat to win a Major” argument.

    Agassi got Gomez in his first French Final, if he’d have won, today we’d be downplaying it, saying “ he got lucky to get Gomez in his first Major”

    You beat who they put on the other side of the net

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Scoop – you’ll probably be able to find out more from one of your insider friends. All I can say is that it was an incident involving a highly ranked woman player (not US) plus someone else and she was allowed to give her explanation in camera because of the somewhat embarrassing circumstances. The drug was cocaine.But recreational use – I think she was suspended briefly – it was many years ago. I only found out much later because I know someone who knew one of the officials. People can do some pretty silly things.

    I suspect there may be a few similar situations – especially back around the 70s when plenty of players were shoving stuff up their noses and quite a few got away with it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 10:42 am

    It’s absurd to mock a major title victory because some armchair champion thinks the opponent was not decorated enough. Gomez was great and he played great at ROland Garros that year. Anyone who tries to belittle his title at Roland Garros is an armchair champion.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Saw the Gomez win. My question is never how did he etc – he played well that year on clay, so too Muster, so too Cherkasov, so too Chesnokov, so too the Swiss Jacob Hlasek. Gomez I think got Muster back for another clay loss, man on a mission. Never question a man on a mission!

    My questions are always after Gomez triumph, and even with the Lapenttis, why didn’t Ecuadorian tennis get stronger? Why didn’t that inspire better tennis from the country?

    Why haven’t we seen another Horacio de la Pena?

    Answers always welcome. Just can’t predict this stuff. From USA tennis example, no one learned anything from the rise of Sampras, Chang….only thing was the US has a strong group of young players from Krickstein on up.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Andrew, Nicolas Lapentti got to four in the world I believe, major semis. Excellent but forgotten career. I was told Giovanni Lapentti was even better than older brother Nico but his head was the issue.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    An Ecuadorian player who knew these guys from juniors said they were always crazy talented but not enough heart. Fits with this era where if you aren’t showing your opponent you have some fire you’re probably going to lose.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Wasn’t Lapentti’s father the president of Ecuador or a major politician? Big money family, didn’t have the full drive. But Nicolas got to 4 in the world. Muy Bien.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Scoop re Lapentti and Ecuador, that would make sense. I think the player I knew also knew them beyond juniors and they ran in high circles (I don’t). I liked the Lapentti game and thought he was on his way to a bigger career.

    The knock on him was he’d play awesome then throw in a dud. The player I knew was upset with the guy! She had played Graf in juniors I think or played in the same events.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Escobedo must be depressed. He was top seventy two years ago and his ranking has tripled.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Lapentti is a super nice guy even Rios likes him!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Bangkok has a tall task fixing the Escobedo express which ran off the rails but is showing signs of getting back on track lately. Esco avenged traumatic houston loss to Johnson last month.

  • Andrew Miller · November 4, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Frenchman Humbert: will he follow the path Dan described, or decide enough is enough? I like Humbert. Like Shapovalov a nice lefty, but unlike Shapovalov he seems more like a nice player as Shapovalov shows more kinstinct!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 5, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Humbert and Moutet look like they have the best shot to become the best French players, they have a different mentality, my sense is they both can go very very high up the rankings and contend for big titles. I like what I see in both, games and mentalities.

  • Andrew Miller · November 5, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Scoop, they may be “nice” players. Maybe what Dan said is true, that French tennis on the ATP, beyond some incredibly good matches from the racquets of Monfils and Tsonga, is just that and we shouldn’t expect more. Just another slam where the home team on the men’s side can’t and won’t win.

    That’s right! Andy Murray isn’t only the last British player in men’s tennis to capture a home slam…he’s the last man from any country that owns a slam to win the home country slam. Before him it was Roddick in 2003.

    So: Australia, France, and the U.S. claim the status as countries that now cannot win the men’s tennis home slam.

    If that isn’t evidence the game has evolved way beyond what anyone imagined, including empty stadiums in China and Megabucks for the women’s tour finals, then ya got me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Andrew, I am intrigued by Moutet and though I can’t quite put a finger on it, Moutet especially strikes me as someone to watch because he has that kind of magical game, unique presence and personality, and X factor combination that can do big things on a tennis court. I had the similar feeling watching young Rios. Something about Rios in 1996 gave my senses the idea he could be world no. 1. I didn’t write much tennis back then and I didn’t talk about it much but that feeling was there all along. And then it came true in 1998 against all odds. Moutet is giving me a similar feeling but not quite as strong. Let’s all just enjoy the ride. Sooner or later a home major will feature a home champion like Noah, Sampras, Agassi, Roddick, good question who will be the next home nation player to win his home nation major.

  • Hartt · November 5, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    The match between Sinner and Tiafoe just finished. Jannik played great and won in 4 sets. If this is an example of what Jannik can do he could be a future superstar. He serve extremely well, and came up with aces when facing break points. He was so composed throughout the match, because Tiafoe did not play badly.

  • jg · November 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Tiafoe needs a new coach, from the one exchange i saw he appeared to be arguing with his coach–something is missing, but even the coach said he is holding back on his shots.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 5, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Tiafoe needs a real coach now, Blake is helping out intermittently and part time so that is a small step in the right direction. His buddy caddy guy did not improve Tiafoe at all this year, instead he stagnated.

  • Andrew Miller · November 6, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Scoop, to me it’s Medvedev. He plays unconventional tennis with unconventional control and I’m convinced he’s certified mad. Berretini I like too, power with touch, a Nalby-lite so far in terms of impact on tour.

    Generally I don’t trust much in the big dudes. Best big dude of past thirty years is Safin. There’s such a thing as being huge but not being dominant. Why I don’t see Alex Zverev being the dominant champion or possibly even a champ given he requires a big brother type as coach that fires him up and those aren’t on tour.

    Then again I haven’t seen everyone in top two hundred, top two fifty. There could be a magician in juniors, or somewhere…someone studying Rios tape in the middle of Estonia or Russia or Costa Rica or Morocco or China…the Chinese Rios.

    Yeah. We will have to wait to see.

    Example, I really liked what I saw from Lucas Pouille. But other than a few decent slams he hasn’t shown much. He’s descended into nice player.

  • Andrew Miller · November 6, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    French ATP players lack K-instinct. Tsonga is one of few that has it sometimes, so too Monfils but he will take entertaining crowds over K-instinct moments. Pouille had some a long time ago and it dissolved.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 6, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Medvedev is a total wildcard, he can replace Murray in the big 4 or he can not win a title for two years. Hope it’s the former, he’s got game. Pouille seems happy ranked between 10 and 30 like Gasquet but with more grit. A couple of Rios inspired pros played the other night in KNoxville, Broady beat Young, both called Rios an inspiration/idol.

  • Andrew Miller · November 6, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    The next gen venue is a little lackluster. It’s a good thing it’s only four game sets. Otherwise these guys would take the matches hard. It’s a roll of the dice.

    I like Humbert, he has some fire. Sinner looks like another Berdych – smooth game, big fella. De Minaur is of course the most professional. Ruud, Davidovich, didn’t make a big impression.

    I like Mike Ymer. He has a much bigger game than I remember. His brother was and still is good. He could use Wilander in his corner. Looks like he will spend some time with Edberg in the off season. The right move!!!

    Tiafoe looked good out there. He has a good ability to finish at net, just as he did in juniors. His forehand continues to be a very troubled shot. I’d encourage him to develop a Felipe Lopez kind of game, or Rafter kind of game. Rafter also had a chaplenged forehand but made it work for him.

    Again these kids aren’t going to look up old tape on Rafter. But they should!!!

    I shudder knowing that few refer to Rios. If you’re a lefty like Humbert, what do you have to lose by watching old Rios tapes?

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