If you’re even just a casual tennis fan, you surely are aware about the declining stature of Americans in the world of professional tennis. The decline has been more pronounced on the men’s side, but outside of Venus and Serena Williams, American women have also, by and large, failed to keep pace with the rest of the world.
On Wednesday, Americans in both the men’s and women’s draw gave fans in attendance at the 2011 U.S. Open reason to believe that perhaps the future isn’t so bleak after all.
The most notable American to win Wednesday was No. 21 seed Andy Roddick, who blasted his way to a four-set win over fellow American Michael Russell, who at 34 years of age is the oldest American man currently on tour. Roddick will meet Jack Sock in the second round. Sock, an 18-year old American making his second U.S. Open appearance, won fairly easily in four sets over Marc Gicquel. Given a wild card for the second consecutive year, Sock will square off against one of his idols, Roddick, in Round 2.
Robby Ginepri, who made a surprise run to the semifinals as an unseeded player back in 2005, advanced to the second round with a four-set win over Joao Souza. Ginepri hasn’t played much at all since a biking accident last fall that left him with a severely injured arm. He made his 2011 debut in July, and Wednesday’s first round match was just his second ATP appearance on the year. Because of how infrequently he’s played in 2011, Ginepri required a wild card just to play in this year’s Open.
Fellow Yankee, Steve Johnson, fought valiantly in his U.S. Open debut, but the 21-year old wild card ultimately fell in five sets to Alex Bogomolov Jr., a Moscow native currently residing in the States.
On the women’s side, Irina Falconi, who moved to New York as a young girl, defeated No. 15 seeded Dominika Cibulkova 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in front of a partisan hometown crowd. Down 0-3 and 1-4 in the third and final set,the 21-year old Falconi hung tough and eventually managed to outlast the 14th ranked player in the world for her second consecutive upset win.
"That’s the one thing I just focused on, is to never give up until the last point," Falconi said by phone as she left the USTA National Tennis Center Wednesday evening. "I just had to believe the entire time I wasn’t going to give up."
In her first round win on Monday, Falconi also battled back from an opening set loss to win over Klara Zakopalova. Playing in her second U.S. Open, Falconi advances on the Round 3 where she’ll take on 22nd seeded Sabine Lisicki who advanced when Venus Williams retired due to sickness.
Not all was cheery for the Americans on Wednesday. Venus Williams withdrew from her second round match against Sabine Lisicki citing an illness.
For a complete look at Wednesday’s results, visit the U.S. Open Tournament website. Also be sure to check out SB Nation’s tennis hub for frequent updates, commentary and analysis throughout the two-week major championship.