Americans–and their rackets–lose left and right in Stadium 1 at Indian Wells

American men and women are a combined 0-9 in Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open through two days of main-draw action. That’s right; in nine attempts, Americans have failed to win a single match on the marquee court at the Indian Wells Masters.

The carnage began on Wednesday, when all five contests saw a woman representing the United States lose to a foreigner. Nicole Gibbs, CiCi Bellis, Danielle Collins, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Christina McHale all suffered first-round defeats. Gibbs led Heather Watson by a set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, while Bellis also had her chances up 4-2 in the third set on Kirsten Flipkens before going down 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Two more WTA Americans–Irina Falconi and Alison Riske–crashed out on Thursday despite also being competitive. Falconi lost to Jelena Jankovic in three sets and Riske fell to Donna Vekic 6-3, 7-6(2).

A pair of their compatriots in the men’s bracket will also have a long break in between the two Masters 1000 tournaments Indian Wells and Miami. Frances Tiafoe was beaten by Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3 during the afternoon session and the nightcap did not end well for recent Memphis champion Ryan Harrison. In a rematch of a Memphis quarterfinal contest that Harrison took in straight sets, Damir Dzumhur exacted revenge in the form of a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory.

This latest Harrison-Dzumhur showdown was an absolute roller-coaster both physically and emotionally. Harrison dropped the first four games of the match and called for the trainer and doctor late in the first set due to a lack of energy. Dzumhur needed a visit, himself, from the trainer to deal with a nasty cut on his knee after he slid on the hard court as if he was playing at Roland Garros. Interestingly, both players also took medical timeouts during their Memphis showdown.

Seemingly energized by whatever the doctor prescribed him and with Dzumhur no longer speeding around the court quite as fast as he had been, Harrison had answers in set two after dropping the first. The Louisiana native and Texas resident surged to a 3-0 advantage and coasted the rest of the way. With momentum in hand, Harrison also seized an early break in the decider to lead 3-2.

But it all fell apart for the world No. 45 as he neared the finish line. Dzumhur broke back immediately, thus sapping both the energy and belief in his opponent. Once again tracking down almost every would-be winner by Harrison, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s top player eventually fought off a crucial break point at 5-5 to force his opponent to serve with the pressure on at 5-6. That’s when Harrison cracked one last time, as a netted backhand on Dzumhur’s second match at ad-out brought an end to things after two hours and 10 minutes–and after midnight.

It also brought a much swifter end to Harrison’s rackets.

Two tirades after the final two points resulted in three demonlished sticks. After erring wildly on a backhand volley at deuce, Harrison walked over to his chair and stomped on a racket that he wasn’t even using. When one more unfortunate point sealed his fate, he destroyed both the racket that was in his hand and another one that had been in the bag–both in ferocious fashion.

Harrison then marched off the court in defeat, leaving the three pieces of evidence behind him on the ground. And that just about summed up the Americans’ first two days in the desert.

5 Comments on Americans–and their rackets–lose left and right in Stadium 1 at Indian Wells

  1. American announcers get so excited about the next brand of American players who will never realize their “potential”. Are these guys serious? America is churning out tons of the same player; more generations of Steve Johnson’s and John Isner’s who will never win a major and will be talked about as if they’re past their prime when they’re at their career peak simply because of the pressure placed upon them. “Still though he has enjoyed a great career,” the announcers will say and list his ATP accomplishments. America needs to stop hyping up these cookiecutter boring tennis players as if they’ll change the world. O rly power serve, big forehand, defensive backhand? That’s so unique I’m sure they’ll be the future #1. The fact is this style of tennis peaks at about the 20-30 range on the rankings. The commercial starring Taylor Fritz on Tennis Channel is laughable. Their hopes for Tiafoe are laughable. Not only are these guys blowing winnable opportunities in major events, there are younger international players who are ALREADY taking advantage of their chances on the tour. Holy fuck can we have one America whose backhand isn’t a liability? Can we have one player with a unique style? Oh nice strong baseliner. I’m sure he’ll whack his way through an entire event. The fact is the American programs have adjusted the same way US Soccer programs did back in the day. We are now producing many players who can compete on the international level but none who can win. Part of coaching at such a young age removes creativity from the game. Many complained about Jack Sock’s hyperaggressive shot selection on his forehand. Newsflash : that (and hours of doubles reps) is what has made him able to beat top players. Tiafoe is a great physical talent who approaches every single ball as if he has NO IDEA what the correct shot is. He is always either going too big on easy shots or going too small while on defense, content to chase his opponents shots rather than trying to turn a rally around. One problem with fast players is they have a tendency to be complacent on defense since they subconsciously know they are able to make up for things with their speed. In qualifiers I’ve watched he seems to not even turn up his level until he is down in the match. I’m sure he’s a great frontrunner because of his power but the high level tour matches are about maintaining levels not turning it up when you need to or blowing out your opponents. Fritz is a good athlete with a nice baseline game. There is nothing remarkable about him. I am more than happy to acknowledge what great players these guys are but the pressure and expectations being placed on all the top US players and up-and-comers is just laughable. They are simply not going to get there.

    • That being said I still took Fritz over Paire : ) Go Taylor! I think his grinding style on the slower courts will frustrate Paire, who has to be getting tired of playing well this season. I mean it’s been almost 3 months already! C’mon Paire we’re all starting to get a bit nervous about you.

    • Sock has a shot at top 5 in my opinion. In my eyes, the guy I’m most hopeful about is Reilly Opelka. He moves really well for his size and his backhand is actually a consistent shot. Problem for him is he’s gonna have to try and stay healthy. The thing is he is 7 feet tall and he’s still a teenager and is so much farther along than Isner was at this age. I see big things coming for him. Of course he did lose to a qualifier yesterday lol so your point is proven about these guys already losing opportunities lol.

      • I watched him play vs Jaziri last season in a close opening round somewhere … the sound off his raquet on his serve is scary … Opelka looked a bit uncoordinated which is generally the downfall of the supertall athlete … his game after the serve definitely has more upside than Isner, who seems about 50/50 to return the ball with his backhand at times : (

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