Last U.S. hope Smyczek succumbs

NEW YORK -- You had to feel for Tim Smyczek.

Through no fault of his own, the 25-year-old American -- who has played many more matches at the Futures and Challenger levels -- was playing for an entire nation. Against Marcel Granollers in the third round, the last man from the United States left in the draw was desperately trying to avert some hysterical history:

• No US Open, going all the way back to 1881, has ever been without at least one American man in the fourth round.

• In the 46 years of the Open era, there has never been a year when an American male singles player failed to advance to the fourth round of at least one Grand Slam tournament.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Tim Smyczek was up a break in the fifth set but couldn't capitalize.

The USA-USA-USA chants wafting through the jam-packed Grandstand only underlined what was at stake.

Well, after 9 p.m. Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis, there were a lot of downcast faces in the USTA offices.

Granollers was the winner, 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5. At one point down a break at 4-1 in the fifth, the Spaniard showed some moxie and came back to break Smyczek twice for the win.

Smyczek was serving at 4-2 in the fifth when he was broken by Granolloers to get back on serve. The Spaniard immediately fell into a 15-40 hole on his serve, but saved those two break points and won five straight points to level the match at 4-all.

Smyczek came back to take a 5-4 lead with a love service game. He was two points from the match on Granollers' serve, but couldn't close the deal.

At 5-all, Granollers kept bunting the ball back into the open court and waited for Smyczek to make a mistake. On his second break point, it finally came. Smyczek stepped into a makeable forehand and overcooked it, long.

That set up Granollers for any easy hold at love and only his second journey into the fourth round of a major.

His reward? A date with No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic.

The Serb, who was playing the first night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, actually finished his match well ahead of Smyczek, beating Joao Sousa 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.

No one can accuse Smyczek of playing it safe. He stroked 73 winners, balanced by 64 unforced errors.

Granollers, appropriately, won 147 points, to 146 for Smyczek in a match that went 3 hours, 24 minutes.

Murray crushing it

Novak Djokovic is the No. 1-ranked player in the world. And Rafael Nadal seems destined to supplant him by year's end.

But who has the better record in Grand Slam events this year?

Raise your hand if you said Andy Murray.

That's right. The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion is an astonishing 16-1 in the majors this year. That's a winning percentage of .941. Murray missed the French Open, which certainly helped him avoid a second loss.

Nadal, who did not play the Australian Open, is 10-1 after losing in the first round at Wimbledon.

Murray's third win here was fairly routine -- after he escaped a first-set tiebreaker against Florian Mayer. The No. 3 seed eventually won 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2. Match time was 1 minute shy of 2 hours.

In the fourth round, he'll play Denis Istomin, a five-set winner over No. 20 seed Andreas Seppi. It will be his first match of his past three against an opponent not named Mayer; he beat Leonardo Mayer in the second round.

The other matchup from the second quarter of the draw: No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych meets No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka.

Berdych thumped No. 31 seed Julien Benneteau 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 and Wawrinka outlasted Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7) in a match that ran 3 hours, 21 minutes.

Etc.

Lleyton Hewitt is 32 years old and unseeded here, but he's also into the fourth round after a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1 win over Evgeny Donskoy. The two-time Grand Slam champion next plays No. 21 seed Mikhail Youzhny, who defeated No. 12 Tommy Haas, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 …Serena Williams' next opponent? Why, that would be No. 18 Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) … Interestingly, all eight of the players who made the fourth round in the top half of the draw were seeded. Half of the eight in the bottom -- Camila Giorgi, Flavia Pennetta, Alison Riske and her Monday opponent, Daniela Hantuchova -- were unseeded.

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