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America’s Incredible Drought in Indian Wells

In recent years it has become very clear that the hegemony of the american Tennis, both on a male and female level, he passed on to a better life. The process was accelerated in an exacerbated way by the irruption of the Big Three as far as ATP is concerned; completed, if we talk about the WTA, by the logical decline of the hermanas Williams, the last guardians of the “old world order”. The new globalized panorama in both circuits and the lack of winning generations (above all, of course, at the levels imposed in the 90s, with the bar really high and leaving a gap that is very difficult to fill) leaves us with what was probably the most powerful country throughout history without real candidates to win the big events. Indian Wellsthe jewel in the crown beyond the Grand Slams, is the most representative example of this.

The Californian desert tournament was formerly a true nursery for the best rackets yankees. Its location in the calendar, its conditions and the always noisy public that goes to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden was the perfect match for names like Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Lindsay Davenport O Mary Joe Fernandez live authentic afternoons of glory and take the trophy home. For all this, the drought of American champions in the popularly called “fifth Grand Slam” is even more surprising: the dominance exercised in the 90s was such that the pronounced drop in quality has caused the situation to be dramatic.

The 2022 season will mark the 20th anniversary since a local player hoisted the championship trophy in Indian Wells. And yes, we are talking about both the male and female circuits. Few imagined this panorama after the edition of 2001, when Andre Agassi beat Pete Sampras in one of the last finals of this inseparable binomial, or when Serena Williams was able to overcome the boos and racist comments to beat Elena Dementieva and sign the American double. Precisely the boycott that the youngest of the Williams would go to the tournament after these incidents, extending until 2015, is one of the great reasons why no host has returned to be a prophet at home.

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The rest of them we have explained in depth throughout some articles, together with other evidence that attest to the paradigm shift experienced in world tennis. It is still bleeding, however, the open wound that is the Indian Wells tournament. Since the introduction of the Masters 1000 (its equivalent on the circuit) in 1990, the country of the stars and stripes has unquestionably dominated this event: in the men’s circuit it conquered it during seven years in a row (from 1991 to 1997, three titles for Michael Chang, two for Pete Sampras and two for Jim Courier), added to the thorn that Andre Agassi took away when he won it in 2001. On the part of the WTA, from 1990 to 2001 (the season that marks a new millennium and a change of third in the circuit) an American won the title in nine occasions (Navratilova, Seles, Mary Joe Fernandez, Davenport and Serena Williams all hoisted the trophy.)

Since then, the most absolute nothing. Twenty years have passed since that fateful tournament and the wait seems to be getting longer and longer. Even in the final section, the balance is still terribly dark, in a tournament that choked up later American tennis mainstays, such as Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, James Blake, Jennifer Capriati, Sofia Kenin o Sloane Stephens.

THE BIG THREE, THE TRUE GATEKEEPERS

And it is that all the male names mentioned above reached a final in the desert. he did too John Isner… but the result was always the same: defeat in the title match. The one who had it closest was Andy Roddick, who lost in the 2010 final against a somewhat more earthy player (a Ivan Ljubicic who lived his week of glory); on the other hand, Fish was defeated in the 2008 final against Novak Djokovic (after leaving Federer by the way), John Isner would do the same against Roger Federer in 2012 (after tipping Djokovic in the semifinals) and James Blake was finished eating a donut from Basel in the 2006 final, evidencing the difference in level and the new reality of the men’s circuit. As far as the WTA is concerned, Davenport returned to the finals, signing three in a row (2003, 2004 and 2005), but always fell to a Belgian racket (Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were her executioners). Since then, only the return of Serena Williams, who lost in the 2016 final against Victoria Azarenka, has somewhat encouraged an absolutely bleak picture. Will this be the year everything changes?

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