For American men, a historically futile effort at Wimbledon Tennis
The last U.S. players in the men’s singles draw were eliminated on Thursday, the first time in 101 years that no American men reached the third round.
The Associated Press
LONDON — What a stark statistic for the nation of Bill Tilden and Don Budge, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi: It’s been 101 years since no men from the United States reached Wimbledon’s third round.
And the last time it happened, 1912, no Americans even entered the oldest Grand Slam tournament.
By the end of Thursday, all 11 U.S. men in the 2013 field at the All England Club were gone, with top-seeded Novak Djokovic eliminating the last one by beating 156th-ranked qualifier Bobby Reynolds 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-1. The match was played with Centre Court’s retractable roof closed because of the first drizzles of the fortnight, which prevented five singles matches from starting and forced the suspensions of three others in progress.
Earlier in the day, James Blake lost to Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, while qualifier Denis Kudla was beaten by Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5. That trio joined 18th-seeded John Isner, 21st-seeded Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne Odesnik, Rajeev Ram and Michael Russell on the way home.
“It’s a tough stat to hear, but I still believe, right now, where U.S. tennis is, not too many guys are in their prime. That’s why the numbers are like that. But a lot of guys are, maybe, in the tail end of their careers and a lot of guys are coming up,” said the 20-year-old Kudla, ranked 105th.
Led by top-seeded and defending champion Serena Williams, the U.S. women still are represented in singles at Wimbledon this year.
Williams extended her winning streak to 33 matches, the longest on tour since 2000, by eliminating 100th-ranked qualifier Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2, while 18-year-old Madison Keys knocked off 30th-seeded Mona Barthel of Germany 6-4, 6-2.
Keys next plays 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, and Williams goes from a 19-year-old opponent in Garcia to a 42-year-old opponent in Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon since the Open era began in 1968.
“I have so much respect for her. I think she’s so inspiring to be playing such high-level tennis at her age,” said Williams, who at 31 is the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history. “And she’s a real danger on the grass court, I know that. I definitely will have to be ready.”
Thursday saw two more injury-related exits, raising the total of players pulling out of the second round to nine, which equals the Open era Grand Slam record for any round.
• After an upset-filled Wednesday, in which seven former No. 1s lost, only one seeded man was knocked out on Day 4: No. 17 Milos Raonic of Canada, who lost in straight sets to 64th-ranked Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.