ATP’s American Men Happy To Return To Hard Courts

Outside of Wimbledon semifinalist Sam Querrey, American men have had a rough go of things in recent months, as the ATP World Tour moved away from their favored hard courts, to clay, then grass. With the US Open Series, and the Citi Open in D.C. coming up, now is the opportunity for the American men on the ATP tour to get their form up for the U.S. Open, and rack up the ranking points. For many of the ATP’s American stalwarts, that push begins in Atlanta today.

The Veterans

American #1 Jack Sock is just 24, but he’s a tour veteran at this point, he’s had a great season on hard courts, but has been pedestrian on the other surfaces. Sock started the season compiling an 18-5 record on hard courts, then he went 5-5 on all other surfaces, and his form tailed off. With Sock barely hanging onto a place in the top 20, he’ll need to play well in Atlanta, and then take advantage of the rest of his Summer hard court chances. He certainly has the talent to reach the second week at the US Open in New York.

Despite taking a surprise title in Newport that returned his ranking to world number #20, John Isner has had a disappointing season overall, and at 32 his game is clearly in a decline. The big serving Isner has actually struggled on hard courts, as the rest of his game breaking down outside of his serve resulted in just a .500 record on hard courts through this point in the season. Isner will either jumpstart his year, or start contemplating falling to a ranking that will make it much harder for him to be seeded in slams.

29-year-old Sam Querrey should be hoping that his magical run at Wimbledon will ignite the rest of his season; Querrey is coming close to matching his win total for all of 2016, and hasn’t just been a solid competitor on grass this season. Querrey has finally found the game that once made him a rising star, and now he has to be thinking about adding to his trophy case, and getting a second, or third ATP title this season.

27-year-old Steve Johnson seems to be the forgotten American right now, but under the radar he’s compiled an excellent 23-13 record this season, and has every shot to at least claim a big scalp during the summer hard court season. Johnson has enough power in his game to bother elite players on hard courts.

28-year-old Donald Young still has plenty of tennis left in his legs, and he looks to be well on track for a career best season win total, largely due to strong play on hard courts. Young has never won an ATP title, and you have to think he’ll make a push in a 250 level tour stop; reaching the ATP top 40 would also be a key goal for him this summer.

25-year-old Ryan Harrison is another former junior star who is playing much better with the spotlight off. Harrison claimed a maiden ATP title in Memphis this year on hard courts, and with his strong defensive game, he can grind out with some of the best of them. Getting above .500 at the tour level, and exceeding his career best season win total should be goals for the Harrison.

The Young Guns

Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe are just one spot apart in the rankings, but Donaldson has focused more on the tour level, while Tiafoe has truly grinded at Challengers and in ATP qualifying. Donaldson has a shot at getting above .500 at the tour level this summer, while Tiafoe, who is just 5-20 at the tour level, badly needs some ATP wins just to increase his confidence against some of the best players. Given the number of tough opportunities he gets, he risks getting burned out like what happened to Young and Harrison.

21-year-old Ernesto Escobedo has already made his tour level breakthrough this year, the unheralded American is playing with house money the rest of the season. At his best on hard courts, Escobedo would love to upset a few top seeds when he gets upcoming chances.

Tennys Sandgren, Bjorn Fratangelo, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, and Stefan Kozlov all have to prioritize securing places in the top 100 this summer, they will get a varying amount of chances, with Fratangelo and Opelka perhaps most likely to make their move. Since becoming a father, Fritz has struggled, while Kozlov has yet to fill out his frame. Opelka needs to improve his return game.

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