Miami Masters 2024: The pyramid is inverted: the US colonizes the men’s ‘top-100’ of tennis | Tennis | Sports

Barely a month ago, the update of the ranking of men’s tennis uncovered a worrying fact for Spanish tennis: only five national players were among the 100 best on the circuit. A circumstance that forced us to go back to August 1989, when the number of representatives was equal, with Emilio Sánchez Vicario (15th), Sergi Bruguera (27th), Jordi Arrese (39th), Javier Sánchez Vicario (48th) and Tomás Carbonell (88th). ) located on the first step of the ATP pyramid. The most recent review, last Monday, has incorporated a sixth ambassador, Pedro Martínez, but the symptoms that have been noted for a long time are beginning to become more and more palpable today. Spain is losing steam on the front line and the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) is working overtime to regain muscle and guarantee a prosperous future.

There is Carlos Alcaraz, whose successes make up for the scarcity that exists behind him, but the rise of the Murcian (20 years old) coincides with the decline of a generation that is progressively heading towards the exit door and that has not yet found a definitive replacement. . At 24 years old, Alejandro Davidovich continues to threaten and tries to overcome the barrier of top-20, while Roberto Bautista (35 years old, 100º) has been declining as a result of injuries and Roberto Carballés (30/64º), Jaume Munar (26/72º) and Pedro Martínez (26/88) have not finished making the leap they In his day he achieved a batch that was difficult to repeat. The combo of Nadal, Ferrero, Ferrer, Feliciano, Verdasco, Almagro, Ramos, Robredo and company – most of them retired, or on the verge – accustomed the fan to a state of exceptionality that contrasts with the loss of influence and the current setback.

A situation that is logical and inevitable to a certain extent, but also obvious: Spain is declining as a bloc, while one of the great giants is once again gaining consistency. This is highlighted by Emilio Sánchez Vicario in a comparative analysis in which the former tennis player, one of the standards of Spanish tennis between the mid-eighties and the nineties, draws parallels with the United States. “The numbers speak for themselves, we have not been able to replace them. From 2016 to today, Spain has gone from 14 players to only six in the top-100placing itself in fifth position in the ranking this last week, while the United States has increased from six to 12, placing it at number one,” introduces the Madrid native, who in 2012 moved to Florida, set up a headquarters for his academy there and began to study the base methodology in depth. of the American federation (USTA), probably the one with the most resources.

Sánchez Vicario emphasizes that then, in 2016, the number of those 14 national representatives deserved an analysis in perspective, given that seven of them were already over thirty and below them there were barely young people with true projection among the top 500. Instead, he highlights, “The United States already had 10″. The most worrying fact, however, “is found at the base of the pyramid, where if we analyze the ages and number of players we see that from 2005 to today, Spain has gone from having about 140 with ranking to 90, while the US has increased from 120 to 210″. This notable increase, highlights their research, “brings countless opportunities to Americans in the next decade” and reinforces their current positioning, with Taylor Fritz (26 years old, 13th) at the helm, Tommy Paul (26/14th), Ben Shelton ( 21/17th), Frances Tiafoe (26/22nd) and Sebastian Korda (23/29th) covering his back, and Christopher Eubanks (27/32nd), Marcos Giron (30/51st), Mackenzie McDonald (28/69th), Alex Michelsen (19/73rd) and Brandon Nakashima (22/92nd) in a second level.

Clubs and transition

For six years, the Spanish Federation (RFEF) has carried out an important structural effort – limited by economic constraints – to generate a network of tournaments that allows strengthening the base and providing greater opportunities to young people who pursue the leap to the ATP professional circuit. The objective is for them to be trained at home instead of abroad and, to this end, the board chaired by Miguel Díaz Román designed a training pyramid similar to the one implemented by the United States a decade ago. Without the financial support of the great powers or the juicy returns that organizing a Grand Slam provides, the federative impulse is expressed through the multiplication of tournaments – from the 59 international in 2017 to the 220 last year – and a significant increase in the investment—from 40,000 euros to 1.2 million euros. That is, sowing.

“This work may take five to seven years to bear fruit, and for Spain to once again have more opportunities like in its golden age, the players must also be brought up from the youth stages and once again have more youth groups.” competition that want to make the transition to professionalism,” says Sánchez Vicario, who foresees the progression of talents such as Martín Landaluce (18) and Daniel Rincón (21), although, he specifies, the base must continue to be reinforced so that the evolution is collective. In the absence of a checkbook, the former tennis player points to the clubs as the fundamental asset. “This is where we must continue to make a difference, I encourage you to continue pushing. If Spain produced more than 100 players in the 40 years top-100, Where are you now? We must implement that culture of tennis, that return to enjoying the transition from junior to professional,” she says.

FRANCE, YESTERDAY AND TODAY

A.C.

The rebound in the United States is accompanied by the commendable consistency of France, one of the countries that best works the base and that maintains the vigor of the last decade. If in 2016 it had 10 tennis players among the 100 best, today it maintains the number and proposes continuity with young people like Fils (19), Cazaux (21) or Van Assche (19).

Another of the most powerful nations, Australia, moves in similar parameters (5/7), while Great Britain (1/4) does not quite find correspondence to its tradition. On the other hand, Italy is growing significantly, which in addition to its youth is gaining weight (5-7) with the Sinner (22), Musetti (22), Arnaldi (23), Cobolli (21), Dardieri (22) or Nardi ( twenty).

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