x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

US Open: Oh say, you won't see ...

Tim Smyczek could not pull through against Marcel Granollers, losing 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to the Spaniard in front of a rowdy crowd at the US Open chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A!" Smyczek's ouster continues a bad run of form by US men's singles players.

Tim Smyczek often jumps to get everything behind his shot. Smyczek was the last US men’s player standing at Flushing Meadows.
Tim Smyczek often jumps to get everything behind his shot. Smyczek was the last US men’s player standing at Flushing Meadows.

It might be best to say that Tim Smyczek, much like American men's tennis, ran out of gas on Sunday night.

Smyczek, 25, who created funny headlines when the car transporting him to the US Open last week ran out of gas, was two points away from helping his country avoid an ignominious fate.

"I never heard somebody yell out from the stands, 'You're our last hope'," Smyczek said.

But he could not pull through against Marcel Granollers, losing 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to the Spaniard in front of a rowdy crowd.

Fans chanted "USA, USA", yet Americans do not have a single man in the round of 16 at their own grand slam for the first time since the tournament started in 1881.

"Couldn't be much more disappointed right now, but these are the kind of situations you dream about," Smyczek said.

"It was pretty cool to be the last American in the draw for a day. Got a little taste of it."

Not that this latest American flop is all on the unheralded Smyczek, who came in ranked 109th and was making his first appearance in the third round of a grand slam.

It was scheduling as much as anything that left him standing alone - last among the 15 American males who started this tournament - when the lights came on Sunday night.

Fellow Americans Jack Sock and John Isner lost their third-round matches on Saturday. Isner, the highest-seeded US man at No 13, withered in a four-set loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber, saying his attempts to rile the crowd in the fourth set wore him out. In the second round, 26th-seeded Sam Querrey fell to Adrian Mannarino.

Smyczek's departure means nobody from the country that gave tennis Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick reached the fourth round at any grand slam in 2013.

Last month, for the first time in the 40 years of the ATP rankings, there was a week with no US men in the top 20.

"I know we got really spoiled with Pete, Andre, all those guys, and Andy, for so many years," Smyczek said. "But I think it's also a really exciting time, because there's five, six, seven guys who are hovering right around 100 and have a good chance to make a big breakthrough."

Could the smallish Smyczek, who at 5 ft, 9 ins tall sometimes jumps to power through his forehands, be the guy? For a while during the three-hour, 24-minute match against Granollers, it very much looked like he might be moving on to Week 2 - and that maybe he would be in the news for something other than the mishap he experienced when his courtesy car ran out of gas en route to Flushing Meadows.

He went on to win that match, then the next.

On Sunday, he was not overmatched, as the stat sheet showed.

He won one game more and one point fewer than Granollers. Each had 10 aces, three double-faults, a 113 mph average first-serve speed and 84 mph second-serve speed.

But when it came to the biggest points, Granollers won most.

The Spaniard, who played the role of the bad guy in a stadium packed with US fans, said there is a good future for US tennis. Just not on his watch. "Every year is different. The quality of the game nowadays is quite even," Granollers said.

"It just happens that no one managed to get that far, but there are several talented American players, and I'm sure that they will have good results in the future."

 

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