LONDON – For the first time in more than a century, no American singles players reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
The last two of 23 U.S. entrants departed Monday. First, Madison Keys withdrew because of a strained left thigh before the scheduled resumption of her third-round match that was suspended because of darkness Saturday. Then, No. 9 John Isner lost his third-round match despite hitting 52 aces, eliminated 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 7-5 by 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
Not since 1911 had zero U.S. men or women participated in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, according to the International Tennis Federation. That year, no American women even entered the tournament and only three men did.
This year, there were 13 women from the United States, including No. 1-seeded Serena Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion who lost her third-round match Saturday. There were 10 U.S. men in the field, but Isner was the only one ranked inside the top 65.
Told how long it’s been without any Americans sticking around for the latter stages at the All England Club, Isner replied: “I didn’t know that. Don’t really care, either.”
He could be excused for tiring of those sorts of statistics and questions, which have been adding up.
Last year at Wimbledon, no American men made it to the third round. No man from the country has played in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament since 2011, and the last to win a major championship was the now-retired Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.
“Some of this is cyclical. Some of it is we’ve done a poor job,” seven-time major champion John McEnroe, a TV analyst for ESPN and the BBC, said before Wimbledon began.
“We got, maybe, ‘spoiled’ is an accurate word. We expected there would be more (Jimmy) Connors, Pete Samprases, (Andre) Agassis,” McEnroe said. “Because of the worldwide interest in sports, if you go back to the ‘88 Olympics, when tennis became part of the Olympics again, more countries put more money and resources into it to allow more kids to play tennis, so more countries have more of an interest and they see the upside of it. That same thing hasn’t happened for us in the U.S.”
The Czech Republic, for example, has three women into the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Canada has one woman that far, and one man in the fourth round.
Lopez gives Spain three men in the fourth round, along with Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo.
“When you beat players like John, when you go through a difficult match like this, you have to be proud of yourself,” said Lopez, who hit 34 aces and saved the only two break points he faced. “To beat Johnny on that court is such is difficult task.”
Lopez earned the only service break of the match in the next-to-last game with a cross-court backhand passing winner that he celebrated by leaping and punching the air. It was the only time Isner was broken during his three matches this year at the All England Club.
“I just couldn’t get into his serve games. For me it was hard,” said Isner, best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010. “I tried, I tried, and I just couldn’t break through.”