4 American men, 8 women still in French

When Roland Garros’ third round kicks off on Friday, there will be four men from the United States on the program – the country’s largest contingent to reach this stage in Paris in 25 years.

“It beats us all by losing and coming home,” said quartet member Stevie Johnson, who won a pair of five sets this week. “That’s for sure.”

The other American men still in the draw: No. 31 seed John Isner, No. 32 Reilly Opelka and Marcos Giron.

The country has eight women on their way to the third round – including Serena Williams and Danielle Collins, who face each other on Friday – but considering all the Grand Slam titles accumulated and the finals reached by Williams and other Americans in recent years. , it seems less important. , even if it is the most at Roland Garros since nine in 2003.

“It’s good to see,” said Jennifer Brady, the Australian Open finalist who won Thursday to set up an all-American encounter against 17-year-old Coco Gauff. “We have a lot left on the women’s side. And there are still many of us on the men’s side.

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You have to go back to 1996 to find so many Americans in the third round; half a dozen got there.

There hasn’t been more than one American in the fourth round on clay since 2001, when Andre Agassi and Michael Russell did.

There could be up to four this time around, but it won’t be easy.

Consider the opponents: Opelka, a 23-year-old Florida-based player, faces No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia; Isner, a 36-year-old player who lives in Dallas, faces number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece; Johnson, a 31-year-old Californian, faces No.12 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain; and Giron, a 27-year-old Californian, faces No.22 Cristian Garin of Chile.

“Every time an American wins,” Opelka said, “it’s a good day, you know?”

In this case, they’re all in the same quarter of the draw, so if they all win on Friday, they would be a pair on Sunday: Isner vs. Johnson and Opelka vs. Giron.

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Their success this week has created a data point that’s preferable to the types of stats they hear about far too often to their liking:

– No American has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick at the US Open in 2003.

– On May 10, there were no Americans in the ATP Top 30 for the first time in nearly half a century of computerized tennis rankings.

Blah, blah, blah.

“They love to tell us what we don’t do,” said Johnson, who won two NCAA titles at USC. “There is no problem with American tennis.”

Indeed, the factoid top 30 is a bit arbitrary and misleading.

“It’s a blip,” Isner said. “It definitely made a great headline and great comments for people to tear up American men’s tennis. But … we will be back.

On the one hand, Taylor Fritz – who left the pitch in a wheelchair with pain in his right knee after losing in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday – dropped from 30th to 31st place that week. . (Entering Roland-Garros, he was 33rd, Isner 34th, Opelka 35th).

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And on the other hand, Isner has played infrequently since returning from tennis from his pandemic hiatus, preferring to stay home with his family – he has two children – instead of going to the Australian Open and its clubs. previous events at the start of this season, for example.

“I would like to think that if the tour didn’t stop and I played a full program, I would be back in the Top 20,” Isner said, “because that’s really all I’ve known for a long time. . ”

The 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist was truly an example of elite consistency: in the 10 seasons from 2010 to 19, Isner was one of only three players to win at least 30 matches and finish in the Top 20 ATP each year.

The two others? A couple of guys named Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Rather correct business.

“I grew up watching Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier – all those greats who were No.1 in the world and several Grand Slam champions – then after that big contenders like Andy Roddick and James Blake. It’s a little sad that we don’t have guys in the Top 10, ”said Giron, who was the 2014 NCAA singles champion at UCLA and had double hip surgery. two years later. “The squad now we’re all very competitive and we don’t want to be where we are ranked. We all push hard. We have the skills and the ability to move.

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