Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
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John Isner’s victory in the Miami Open on Sunday was the second American triumph in the last three Masters 1000 tournaments, but the biggest moment of the 32-year-old’s career cannot hide the fact that the most successful country in the history of men’s tennis is struggling to live up to its past.
In the 75 editions of The Championships staged between 1920 and 2000, players from the United States won the gentlemen’s singles title on 33 occasions. However, since the last of Pete Sampras’ seven victories at the All England Club 18 years ago, not one American has held the trophy aloft.
It is a similar story across the other Grand Slam tournaments. Andre Agassi is the last American man to have won the Australian Open (in 2003) or the French Open (in 1999), while no home player has won the men’s title at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2003.
While the United States has three men currently ranked in the world’s top 20 - Isner, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock (who won the last Masters 1000 tournament of 2017 in Paris) – no currently active American has played in a Grand Slam singles final. The last to do so was Roddick, who was beaten by Roger Federer at The Championships in 2009.
It would be hard to overstate the supremacy of the United States in world tennis for most of the 20th century. At The Championships between 1920 and 2000 the second most successful country in the gentlemen’s singles was Australia, whose representatives won the title 17 times compared with 33 wins for Americans.
Richard Sears, who won the US Nationals title seven years in a row from 1881, and his fellow Americans Arthur Rives and James Dwight were the first players outside of Britain and Ireland to enter The Championships, in 1884.
Dwight lost in the semi-finals one year later, Clarence Hobart reached the same stage in 1898 and Beals Wright became the first American to reach the All-Comers’ final, losing to Anthony Wilding in 1910. Until 1922 the previous year’s champion had to play only one match in defence of his title, in the Challenge Round, against the winner of the All-Comers event.
Maurice McLoughlin became the first American man to go within one victory of the title when he lost to Wilding in the Challenge Round in 1913. Bill Tilden, one of the greatest players in history, was the first American to take the title when he beat Australia’s Gerald Patterson in the Challenge Round in 1920 on his Wimbledon debut. He retained his trophy 12 months later.
By 1923 Wimbledon was hosting its first all-American gentlemen’s singles final, “Little” Bill Johnston beating Frank Hunter in the final for the loss of only four games.
Thereafter Americans became increasingly frequent – and successful - performers at The Championships. Sidney Wood, Ellsworth Vines, Donald Budge and Bobby Riggs all won the title before the Second World War, while the United States provided five successive champions from 1947 in the shape of Jack Kramer, Bob Falkenburg, Ted Schroeder, Budge Patty and Dick Savitt.
At that stage the Americans dominated in terms of quality rather than quantity – there were only five Americans in the 128-strong field in 1947 – but all that changed in the early years of open tennis. From the 1970s through to the 1990s the sport was especially successful in the United States and American players dominated the draws at The Championships. By 1984, the field for the gentlemen’s singles included a remarkable 56 Americans.
Thanks to the achievements of the likes of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Sampras and Agassi the flow of American champions showed no sign of drying up. Sampras won the last of his seven titles in 2000, after which Roddick threatened to extend the supremacy of Americans, only for Federer to deny him in all three of his All England Club finals, in 2004, 2005 and 2009.
With Roddick’s retirement in 2012, the United States was suddenly left without any serious contenders for singles honours. In 2013, by which time the number of American entries in the gentlemen’s singles had dropped to just 11, no players from the United States made it to the third round for the first time in more than a century. When Querrey made it to the semi-finals in 2017 he was the first American to reach the last four of the gentlemen’s singles since Roddick in 2009.
Isner, Querrey and Sock still have time to make an even bigger impact at The Championships, but it might take the next generation of Americans – men like the 20-year-olds Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh – to pick up the baton of their famous predecessors.