Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt may now only be associated with Bonds ads and “Come On” catch phrases, yet they remain the last Aussie men when it comes to having their name on a Grand Slam trophy.
The finale to the tennis Grand Slam calendar, the US Open commences this coming Monday in New York and woefully it’s now been 13 years since an Aussie won a single men’s title, the last at Flushing Meadows thanks to a 20-year-old Hewitt in 2001.
Thankfully, when it comes to the women’s side, Samantha Stosur put Australia back on the world stage with her well deserved win over Serena Williams in 2011, yet despite her efforts has failed to continue this success by throwing away many an opportunity since.
But back to the men. Excuse me if I am wrong but I assume most of you are familiar with a young marvel by the name of Bernard Tomic.
At world number 52, he alone, brat or not, is again our biggest shot at a title. Sure at times he is reminiscent of a baby giraffe, but Tomic continues to consistently excel strategically on the court.
The great John McEnroe who a year ago during this same tournament made his famous “tanking” comments during Tomic’s defeat to Andy Roddick, was forced to change his tone while watching Tomic progress through Wimbledon this past July.
Sure, he opened his commentary with jibes at Tomic, ignorantly continued with how “poor” his serve was despite Tomic being in the top 10 for service games won in the ATP this year, and had to eat his words when Bernie made it through to the 4th round, falling short to Tomas Berdych.
Let’s not forget this was all without Tomic’s banned father/coach on the sidelines assisting.
Then we have Marinko Matosevic. Still unknown by the general Australian public, he is ranked at 56. Sitting in at second behind Tomic, Matosevic now faces the mental demon of never progressing past the first round of a Grand Slam. Yep, that’s 10 Grand Slam appearances, bombing every single one. Please, this can’t be his 11th!
It’s now time for Australia to stop asking “who’s this guy?” at every Open. Matosevic can be a beast when his mind is in sync with his serve, how he’ll surpass his emotions on court in NYC though remains to be seen.
Now under his preferred coach, Mark Woodforde, the tables at last seem to be turning for the 28-year-old with him having reached consecutive quarter-finals in Washington and Montreal.
Hewitt still too has some bounce, at 32 years and sitting in at 67, you can’t write him off, not when 35-year-old German Tommy Haas is sitting at world number 13, ending the dreams of men a decade younger.
James Duckworth managed to grab a wildcard into the main draw with Matt Ebden, Sam Groth and Matt Barton all currently vying for a chance through qualifying, which has commenced overnight (US Eastern time).
The time is now for Australia to earn back a Grand Slam title. Enough blaming other codes for taking funding, lack of exposure or poor marketing when it comes to tennis court accolades.
This isn’t the coveted Bledisloe Cup. This is an Aussie squad who possesses what it takes to earn a trophy in the next decade, so let’s do it!