(Photo: Anthony Gruppuso, USA TODAY Sports)
Douglas Robson, USA TODAY Sports
New York-- The worst season in U.S. men's tennis history came to a ignominious conclusion on Sunday when Tim Smyczek lost to Marcel Granollers of Spain.
For the first time no American men reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open.
Hopes of averting another dubious first in 2013 rested on the shoulders of Wisconsin native Symczek, a 5-9 wild card who had never cracked the top 100.
Propelled by chants of "USA! USA! USA!" on the Grandstand Court, Smyczek led 4-1 in the final set but No. 43 Granollers scrapped back to win 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 in 3 hours, 24 minutes.
"It was pretty cool," said Symczek of the boisteroiusly pro-American crowd. "I mean, obviously it was pretty disappointing to lose, especially being up a break in the fifth."
Earlier this year, no American men advanced past the second round of Wimbledon for the first time in 101 years. For a week last month, the top-20 was devoid of U.S. players for the first time since computerized rankings began in 1973.
Smyczek's loss also marks the first time in the Open era (1968) that no American men advanced to the quarterfinals at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The top-ranked American, No. 17 John Isner, lost in the third round Saturday in four sets to Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The last man to reach the fourth round at a major? Andy Roddick, who retired following his round-of-16 finish at the 2012 U.S. Open.
109th-ranked Symczek said he was optimistic about the prospects for American men despite the historic lows.
"I really think we're in a good place," he said. "I think that you can expect some guys that are ranked around 80, 90, 100, to really make a jump later this year and in the early part of next year. I think John and Sam (Querrey) are really going to come back in a big way."
Smyczek said he enjoyed playing as the last American man alive, a status usually reserved for higher-ranked players.
"I never heard somebody yell out from the stands, 'You're our last hope,'" he said. "That was new."