Andy Roddick's tennis career came to an end on Wednesday with a loss to Juan Martin del Potro. As American tennis fans wave goodbye to the guy who carried the country's hopes on the men's side for a decade, it's also time to look toward the future.
No man from the United States has won a Grand Slam title since Roddick's win at the 2003 U.S. Open, so he leaves a pretty big void behind. Let's look at three players who must rise to the occasion as Roddick rides off into the sunset.
The lanky North Carolina native is already a threat every time he takes the court, because his monster serve is capable of carrying him through any given match. Yet, he's never made it beyond the quarterfinals in a major tournament.
In order to take his game to the next level so he can compete with the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Isner must add more dimensions to his game. The elite players eventually figure out ways to break serve and beat Isner in his current form.
Since he already has power, the best thing for him would be working to improve his conditioning and movement. It would improve his overall defense while also helping him go deeper in matches without wearing down, which has been an issue.
Querrey was a player on the rapid ascent at the beginning of last year. But inconsistent play combined with an elbow injury derailed his rise up the rankings and basically forced him to start from scratch at the beginning of 2012.
He recently moved back inside the top 32, a key number because it allows a player to get seeded in majors and avoid tough first-round draws. He didn't make it past the third round in any Grand Slam events this year, but he did win the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles.
Like Isner, Querrey relies on his powerful serve and forehand to dictate points. He has, however, shown a more complete game than his fellow American. He's still working his way back into top form, making 2013 a key season for him.
Nobody can question Harrison's talent. He illustrated it every step of the way before turning pro, but hasn't been able to replicate that success at the highest level quite yet. It's led to a lot of frustration because he expects to win every match, much like Roddick did throughout his career.
Harrison's temper has also been questioned, most notably after losing his cool at the Olympics. Once upon a time a young Roger Federer also had some hotheaded moments. That's not to say Harrison will come anywhere close to Federer's accomplishments, but just an example that those issues can be overcome.
At 20, Harrison still has plenty of time to reach his sky-high potential. With two full years of Grand Slam experience under his belt, don't be surprised if next season turns out to be the one where he finally starts putting it all together.
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