American men have traditionally struggled on the red clay of Roland Garros and this year will be no exception. Despite some promising play on clay this season by some of the top American men, their struggles get magnified and exposed once they get to Roland Garros. Jack Sock, the top American male tennis player at the moment, has all the weight of expectations on his shoulders. Fans and many commentators expected him to be the male player to change our misfortune and become the first American French Open champion since Andre Agassi won the title in 1999. Since the nineties, we have been desperately seeking an American male player to wear the mantle of the “French Open Champion”. Alas, it will not be Sock this year as he bowed out in round one to an opponent that has been struggling with waning confidence and someone Sock had never lost to in their three previous encounters. In fact, Sock won their two earlier matches this year and one of those victories was on clay.
Is there something about the prospect of potentially having to grind out five sets on clay that seems so mentally and physically daunting to the American male tennis players? The women don’t seem to have such misfortune and have not struggled as much with adapting their games to the surface. Eleven American men entered the main draw this year and at the moment only two have gotten to the second round. In contrast, fifteen American women entered the main draw and eight have made it to round two. While there is still the possibility of having an American male champion at Roland Garros this year, the probability of that actually happening is very low given the talented opposition that John Isner and Steve Johnson would have to overcome to do so.
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