Thursday was a historic day at Wimbledon for American tennis, but for all the wrong reasons.
Not a single American man out of 11 entrants made it past the second round in singles play, which is the country’s worst showing at the All England Club since 1912, when the Americans had no men competing for the most prestigious title in tennis.
The No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, sealed America’s fate with an easy, straight-set win over Bobby Reynolds, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-1.
Two other Americans, James Blake and Denis Kudla, also lost in straight sets on Thursday.
“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,” Kudla told The Associated Press. “Maybe next year, or the year after that, things could change. You have to go through a little bit of a struggle to get some success.”
This all comes one day after the top-ranked U.S. man, No. 18 John Isner, withdrew from Wimbledon in the second round with a left knee injury. Isner had a chance to go far in this tournament, especially after the two top-ranked players in his draw and two members of the Big Four, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, lost in stunning early defeats. But it was not to be for Isner, who was one of six players who had to withdraw with an injury on Wednesday.
The other ranked American man, No. 21 Sam Querrey, fell in the first round in five sets to Bernard Tomic, who also axed Blake.
The other Americans who had early exits were Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne Odesnik, Rajeev Ram and Michael Russell.
No American man has won a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick took home the U.S. Open in 2003. It was at the start of his career, so U.S. tennis watchers hoped it wouldn’t be Roddick’s last major title. But while he was at the peak of his career, he had to compete with the likes of Nadal and Federer, who helped prevent him from getting another Grand Slam.
So the Americans will have to wait yet again and see if the 2013 U.S. Open, 10 years after Roddick’s win, will be the end of the drought.
Meanwhile, the women are faring much better with No. 1 Serena Williams, Madison Keys, No. 17 Sloane Stephens and Alison Riske all still alive.
“I can’t put my finger on why the women are doing better than the men,” Reynolds told the AP.
“You look back years ago, the Americans usually were very good, whether it’s basketball or baseball or tennis,” Reynolds said. “Sports are becoming such a worldwide thing that everybody is so good now. … We’re so used to looking back and saying, `Oh, look at all the dominance.’
“Every country has top guys playing tennis. I think that’s more of what it is, rather than the lack of talent coming out of the States.”
One of the reasons why the women are doing better is likely Williams, who is going for her second-straight Grand Slam this year and 17th overall. She won Wimbledon last year for her fifth win at the All England Club.