NEW YORK – American men’s tennis was pushed to the brink of historic Grand Slam humiliation Saturday when US star John Isner was dumped from the US Open by German Philipp Kohlschreiber for the second year in a row.
Kohlschreiber ousted 13th seed Isner 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) to reach the fourth round at the year’s final Grand Slam event, leaving 109th-rated wildcard Tim Smyczek as the final hope for a US man in the last 16 of a Slam this year.
Never in the Open era have the Americans been blanked from the fourth round of every Slam in the same year, and the epic failure could come 10 years after retired Andy Roddick won the most recent US men’s Slam title at the US Open.
“I don’t care,” Isner said.
“I’m going to watch (American) football for a while. I’m not going to watch his match – I like Tim a lot but I’m done with tennis for a while.”
At Wimbledon, no US man reached the third round, the worst American showing there since 1912. And on August 12, there was no US man in the world top 20 for the first time since the ranking system began in 1976.
“Well, for sure it’s not great for the American history not to have a player in the second week,” Kohlschreiber said. “But you had so many good years.”
The legacy of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe is now championed by Isner, a big-serving 2.08-meter 28-year-old who complained that too many fans cheered for flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils in a second-round victory Thursday.
A day after announcing he would donate 20 percent of his US Open prize money to a military charity, Isner had loud support from the packed stands of Louis Armstrong Stadium against Kohlschreiber.
That was partly because he exhorted cheers late in the fourth set, although one spectator kept annoying Kohlschreiber by yelling as he tried to serve.
“It’s between serves and you say, ‘Come on’ five times in a row,” the German told the fan. “What is that? I don’t think that’s a nice thing to do.”
The umpire and security solved the issue but that did nothing to help Isner, who spent his energy and emotions late in the fourth set pointing to the crowd and waving his hands after hitting winners, stoking the noise but draining strength he would need.
“I wore myself out getting charged up out there,” Isner said. “I used too much energy doing that. I shouldn’t have done that. It was stupid on my part. I was pretty gassed there. I didn’t have much left.”
The German saved two break chances in the ninth game and answered when Isner broke him in the 11th game by breaking back in the 12th to force the tie-break. Isner saved two match points on his serve but lost on a forehand volley winner.
Where Monfils had excited the crowd with his effort and Isner had fans chanting his name and screaming “U-S-A,” Kohlschreiber silenced them at the end with his precision.
“The crowd was fantastic. I wish I could have done them a little better,” Isner said.
“What happened in my previous match had no bearing on today. How I acted wasn’t from my previous match. That wasn’t why I was getting amped up too much. I was enjoying a good atmosphere. It’s fun to play in front of a packed house.
“But in a match where conditions are so humid and I’m sweating through seven, eight shirts, I just shouldn’t have done that. I just let out too much energy at the end of the fourth set where I needed to keep as much energy as possible.”