MELBOURNE, Australia – For the first time in four decades, there will be no American man in the fourth round of the Australian Open. John McEnroe thinks he knows why.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion, who is working as a TV analyst at Melbourne Park, suspects a lack of passion.
“You could certainly wonder whether our guys are as hungry as some of the others,” McEnroe said on Fox after John Isner lost to 18th-seeded Feliciano Lopez in the third round Friday. “It really comes down to the individual. If people have heart or desire, that to me is more important than any shot.”
This is the first time no U.S. player reached the men’s fourth round at the Australian Open since 1973 – when no Americans traveled to the tournament.
Isner, the last American man left in the singles draw, lost to Lopez 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-7 (0), 6-1. It was the 6-foot-9 Isner’s second straight five-set match after he knocked out David Nalbandian in a 4-hour, 41-minute thriller.
“I honestly felt like it was more mental than anything,” Isner said of the loss. “Just like the whole match I wasn’t really that sharp.
“It’s very ugly, to be honest, to have no one in the round of 16. We’ve got to try to rectify that next time the big tournaments roll around.
“It’s very disappointing. That’s not a good effort from the Americans in this tournament. I knew going in today I was the last one left and I wanted to keep on going, but just didn’t happen.”
Instead, Lopez earned a fourth-round match against Rafael Nadal, who won the 2009 Australian Open and has 10 major titles to his credit.
The last American man to win the Australian Open was Andre Agassi in 2003.
No American man has won a major since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.
“We’ve been spoiled with the success we’ve had in the past,” McEnroe said.
At least the Americans still have Serena Williams, the 13-time Grand Slam champion who is on a 16-match winning streak at Melbourne Park. She won titles in 2009 and 2010 but missed last year because of injury. Today, the five-time champion will play Greta Arn of Hungary in the third round.
Before that, defending champion Novak Djokovic will take on Nicolas Mahut of France at Rod Laver Arena.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was on court for 38 minutes before advancing to the fourth round. The second-seeded Czech was leading 6-0, 1-0 on Rod Laver Arena when Maria Kirilenko retired with a left thigh injury.
It was the fourth retirement of the women’s tournament.
Kvitova, one of four players who could end the season’s first major with the top ranking, will face Ana Ivanovic of Serbia or unseeded American Vania King in the Round of 16.