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Monday, January 24, 2011

Australian Open: Can Pro Tennis Survive without Americans?

Yawn. That is the best phrase I could come up with to describe the 2011 Australian Open tennis tournament.  ESPN has no doubt done a wonderful job covering the tournament, although I wouldn't really know it.  I did tune in for about 30 seconds the other day, I think.  And I have noticed SportsCenter updates on the Open during my scheduled breaks at work from time to time.  Yet all I really know about the Open is that the last remaining American on either the men's or women's bracket, Andy Roddick, was eliminated last weekend.  And there is still a lot more tennis to be played before they get to the semifinals. My interest in tennis has progressively faded over the past few years, in part because there is no one personality as dynamic as a John McEnroe or an Andre Agassi, but also because the Americans seemingly exit early more often.  That brings me to the question: can the ATP survive without a successful American?  Has tennis become global enough that the US will latch on to someone outside their own country?  Does tennis even need the support of its American fanbase? As for the first question, I cannot answer that.  Soccer has proven that you do not need the US in order to be a successful global sport.  Whether tennis can transcend the northamerican continent without its support remains to be seen.  As to the second question, I know I myself really could care less about how many titles Nadal and Federer win, but maybe there are Americans out there who do care.  Finally, if my time in Spain is any indication (I spent five months there in the winter-spring of '99, during which the Spaniard Carlos Moya won the French Open) Europe's interest in the sport will ebb and flow based on the nationality of the winner.  And that might (yawn) be all (yawn) it needs to (yawn) sustain itself.

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