We stayed up late last night watching the Australian Open, and even though we've been bemoaning the fall of American tennis, it's exciting to watch a match, and out of nowhere, know that you're seeing the future of the sport. And such a new star emerged last night: Bernard Tomic. Tomic, who was born in Germany and whose family is Croatian, but who lives in and competes for Australia, took on the world's #1, Rafael Nadal, last night in the third round. Nadal ended up winning in straight sets, but Tomic gave him all he could handle. With a little more experience, Tomic, who is just 18, will surely take his place as one of the world's top players.
And just in case you think we're being too hard on how disastrous is the state of American tennis, consider this fact. Since the Open Era of tennis began in 1968, only twice has any American, man or woman, failed to make the quarterfinals of one of the four major Grand Slam tournaments. Excluding three of the early years of the Australian Open in which no Americans even competed, only twice have Americans completely flamed out before the quarters, 2006 Wimbledon and the 2008 French Open. In this current Australian Open, as of today, Andy Roddick is the only American left in the tournament, and if he loses tonight, then we'll have the third time since 1968 in which no American, man or woman made at least the quarters of a Grand Slam. We don't know what we're going to have to do to start growing some new tennis champions, but we need to do it soon. It's bad enough that American youth can't read or do math as well as the rest of the industrialized world, but up until now, we could at least kick their asses in sports.