Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for U.S. men’s tennis, unseeded Tim Smyczek lost on Sunday 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to Spain’s Marcel Granollers in third round play.
No big deal…until you realize Smyczek was the last American man in the draw, meaning no American men reached the 4th round at the US Open, which hasn’t happened…ever. Since the tournament started in 1881.
“Couldn’t be much more disappointed right now,” Smyczek said. “It was pretty cool to be the last American in the draw for a day. Got a little taste of it.”
American tennis fans got a taste of what it’s like to be Uzbekistan or Kraptakistan or…never mind, Uzbekistan has a player in the fourth round. Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras had kids, right? Where are they? Somewhere along the line the U.S. forgot to carry on the lineage.
“I know we got really spoiled with Pete, Andre, all those guys,” Smyczek said. “But I think it’s also a really exciting time because there’s five, six, seven guys that are hovering right around 100 and have a good chance to make a big breakthrough.”
Really? That will placate American fans looking for Slam winners.
Granollers for eliminating the last American will be rewarded with a meeting against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who on Sunday pounded Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the night match.
“It’s definitely a unique experience and New York has this unique vibe, especially in the night,” said Djokovic on playing at night in front of drunk New Yorkers. “I’ve been working on basically every element in my game, so hopefully I can serve a little bit more efficiently and get some more free points on that in the next matches.”
The Serb also expounded on the new addition to his coaching entourage, a coach for his coach, former Top 10er Wojtek Fibak.
“He is a consultant to me and to my coach also,” Djokovic said. “He’s a part of our team here for US Open for the first time. We’re trying it out and seeing how it goes so far. He’s been in tennis for over 30 years, as a player, as a coach, as somebody that has a big knowledge and experience in this sport.”
Other Top 10ers into the round of 16 on Sunday were No. 3 Andy Murray handling German Florian Mayer 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2, No. 5 Tomas Berdych powering past No. 31 Julien Benneteau 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, and No. 9 Stan Wawrinka putting down Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(1), 7-6(7) to line up a meeting with Berdych.
“It was a bit hot, a bit humid, but otherwise [the] tennis was good,” said Berdych, who has yet to drop a set. “Finally, I managed to stay focused from the first point until the last. I took all my chances that I had and won in straight sets.”
Murray will next meet unseeded Uzbek Denis Istomin, who toppled No. 20-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1.
No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny was also an upset winner with a 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over No. 12 Tommy Haas, and will next face unseeded Lleyton Hewitt, who defeated Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1.
“I did my homework on [Donskoy],” Hewitt said. “Yeah, I wasn’t surprised by anything that he really did. He’s obviously got a great forehand. Hits it well. But I came out aggressive at the start and I played well right at the start to get up that early break.”
On the women’s side in four round of 16 matches, No. 24-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova pulled off the biggest upset of the day, defeating No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 to reach her first US Open quarterfinal.
“I think I started good,” Radwanska said. “I think she was a little bit nervous in the beginning and then start to play better and better and hit the ball very well. I didn’t do anything to win that first set.”
Makarova in the quarters will meet No. 5 seed Li Na, who on Sunday rolled past No. 9 seed and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-0.
“I was really, really happy about the way I was playing today,” Na said. “I was trying to serve and volley and coming into the net so that I could win the points fast, because she’s so good in the rallies.”
World No. 1 Serena Williams’ match-up with fellow American and No. 15 seed Sloane Stephens was a dud after a tight first set, as Williams steamrolled to a 6-4, 6-1 win.
“Going into the match I definitely wanted to be focused the whole time,” Williams said. “That’s all I wanted to do. Whether I was going to win or lose, I just wanted to play my game and do well today…It was definitely a high quality match out there. We both came out today to play.”
Williams will next face the staunch one-handed backhand of No. 18-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who came from a set down Sunday to upset No. 8 Angie Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).
Monday’s play at the US Open will feature Alison Riske vs. Daniela Hantuchova, (13) Ana Ivanovic vs. (2) Victoria Azarenka, (7) Roger Federer vs. (19) Tommy Robredo, (22) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (2) Rafael Nadal, (21) Simona Halep vs. Flavia Pennetta, (8) Richard Gasquet vs. (10) Milos Raonic, an all-Italian in Camila Giorgi vs. (10) Roberta Vinci, and (18) Janko Tipsarevic vs. (4) David Ferrer.
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