To hear Brad Gilbert talk, American men's tennis could be in the midst of a summer renaissance. During his television analysis of Andy Roddick's quarterfinal match at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic yesterday, Gilbert marveled at the strong results American men have produced since the start of the hard-court season.
Three Americans -- Roddick, James Blake and Bobby Reynolds -- reached the quarterfinals, with Roddick and Blake advancing to the semifinals.
By winning the RCA Championships in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Robby Ginepri vaulted into the lead of the U.S. Open Series, a set of tournaments in which players can earn bonus money based on points earned. Andre Agassi followed a week later with his first tour title this season, at the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles.
Not only have American men won two out of the last five tournaments, but they are also advancing deep into the draw. At the RCA Championships, Ginepri defeated fellow American Taylor Dent, who also advanced to the final of the Pacific Life Open before falling to top-ranked Roger Federer on March 7. Three weeks later, Agassi advanced to the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open before falling to Federer. Vince Spadea reached the semifinals of the Arizona Men's Tennis Classic in February.
"I can't remember the last time three different Americans have won consecutive hard-court tournaments," Gilbert said on television.
Srichaphan Stays Hot
Thirteenth seed Paradorn Srichaphan can't quite put his finger on why his season often seems to take off during the summer hard-court season. After his quarterfinal victory over Luis Horna yesterday, Srichaphan ventured that his second-half surges might have something do with the hot, humid summers that remind him of his native Thailand.
More likely, Srichaphan's success is due to his recovery from a shoulder injury that had forced him to change his service motion. Playing mostly pain-free, Srichaphan is beginning to see improved results. Currently ranked 42nd in the world, he has set a goal of climbing back into the top 20 by the end of the summer.
Srichaphan reached the quarterfinals in Los Angeles, where he lost to Agassi in three sets. Prior to that, he lost in the third round to eventual champion Ginepri in Indianapolis.
"I would think it's the best time for me to start to play well with the U.S. Open coming up," he said. "It's pretty much like playing in Thailand on the hard courts."
He'll need those positive vibes against Roddick in a semifinal today at 2 p.m.; Roddick has won their last four meetings. Srichaphan has beaten Roddick only once, in the quarterfinals of the Paris TMS indoor carpet tournament.
"It's going to be tough," Roddick said. "Lately, he's seemed to have found his form in the last couple of tournaments. I will be expecting his best stuff."