Population isn’t why Australia is failing at tennis and golf
It’s worthwhile expanding on yesterday’s reaction to the demise of Australian tennis and golf when it comes to winning the big ones that define a career.
Let’s kick off with tennis where there’s not a hope in hell of winning a men’s singles Slam in the foreseeable future.
Many reasons have been given by Roarers including the small Australian population compared to the rest of the world, especially the USA.
The stats of Australia’s 22 million to the USA’s 260 million have been put forward as a reason why Australians have been swamped on the court.
It wasn’t the case in the 1950s when Australians won 21 of the 40 Slams. The population of Australia was in the vicinity of 8.28 million, the USA 151.4 million.
The Australians – Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and Ashley Cooper won four each, Mervyn Rose two, with one each for Neale Fraser, Ken McGregor, and Mal Anderson.
Yet Americans could only win 14 with five to Tony Trabert, two each to Budge Patty, Vic Seixas, Dick Savitt, and Alex Olmedo, and one to Art Larsen.
The rest were won by Egypt’s Jaroslav Drobny with three, and one each to Swede Sven Davidson and Italian Nicols Pietrangeli.
It was even more evident in the 1960s when Australia won 32 of the 40 Slams, The population of the USA was in the vicinity of 179.3 million, Australia 10.27 million.
The Australians – Roy Emerson won 12, Rod Laver 11, John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, and Fraser two each, with Rosewall, Tony Roche, and Bill Bowrey one apiece.
Yet the Americans could only win two Slams in that decade with Arthur Ashe and Chuck McKinley while Spain’s Manuel Santana won four, and Mexico’s Rafael Osuna with Pietrangeli won one each.
After 53 Slams in 20 years the wheels came off Australian tennis big time with just 13 Slams in the next 43 years – Newcombe four, Rosewall three, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt two each, with one each to Pat Cash, and Mark Emondson.
The explosion of home units being built on tennis courts played a big part, inept administration did the rest, sitting on their backsides waiting for the renaissance that never came.
Today there are only three Australians ranked in the world’s top 100 – Marinko Matosevic at 49, Bernard Tomic at 52, and Hewitt at 83.
Five more are ranked between 105 and 233 – daylight.
Apart from Hewitt’s 28 tournament wins including two Slams, none of the other seven ranked Australians have even won one tournament between them, and not likely to.
Australia golf has always been a bitter disappointment winning only 15 majors in history.
Today Adam Scott is ranked seven in the world, but yet to make the defining breakthrough and still Australia’s best chance to break the drought.
Next best ranked is Jason Day at 37, John Senden’s 38, Geoff Ogilvy 56, Marcus Fraser 59, Greg Chalmers 65, Brendan Jones 72, and Marc Leishman 89 in the top 100.
But apart from Ogilvy winning the 2006 US Open there are no genuine Australian major champions in that bracket.
And what’s happened to very good Australian golfers like Robert Allenby who is now ranked 188 behind the 53-year-old Peter Senior who is 178.
Richard Green is another now ranked world 229, Stuart Appleby 368, Nathan Green 617, and Peter Lonard 675 – all winners in Europe or the USA.
Those rankings deserve investigation, but does anyone care?
Tennis and golf used to be big sports in Australia, it seems both are off the Australian sports-lovers radar, especially on The Roar.
And there’s no-one to blame but the administrators and the players.