NEW YORK – Trying to extend his stay at the U.S. Open, John Isner smacked a return winner, then pointed his right index finger toward the Louis Armstrong Stadium stands and circled his arm overhead, riling up the fans.
Two points later, sprinting so far he nearly reached the seats, Isner hit a forehand that closed a point, punched the air and then shook his fists, doing his best Jimmy Connors imitation. Minutes after that, Isner cupped his hand to his ear, basking in the chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
The highest-ranked American man finally heard the adulation he’d been hoping for a couple of days earlier, when he lamented that so many spectators cheered so vociferously for his French opponent. What the 13th-seeded Isner failed to do in return Saturday was deliver a victory in the third round at Flushing Meadows, meaning only one U.S. man remains of the 15 in the field.
Isner even blamed those exuberant attempts to stir the crowd for his struggles down the stretch of a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) loss to 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
“I felt like I wore myself out getting charged up out there,” Isner said after bowing out against Kohlschreiber in New York for the second consecutive year. “I used too much energy, and I shouldn’t have done that. It was stupid on my part. So I was pretty gassed there.”
No such concerns about getting tired for Roger Federer. The 17-time Grand Slam champion worked quickly once again, beating 63rd-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 in 1 hour, 21 minutes to get to the fourth round for the 13th consecutive year. Through three matches, Federer has dropped 21 games and spent a total of 41/2 hours on court.
Next for Federer is 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain, who eliminated 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans of Britain 7-6 (6), 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Win and Federer could face 12-time major champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals; the two rivals never have played each other in the U.S. Open.
Aside from Isner, the other American man in action Saturday, 20-year-old Jack Sock, was beaten 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-2 by No. 18 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.
So the last man from the United States remaining is Tim Smyczek, a 25-year-old from Milwaukee who got into the main draw thanks to a wild-card invitation from the U.S. Tennis Association. He plays 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers of Spain in the third round Sunday. If Smyczek loses it will be the first time with zero U.S. men in the round of 16 in the history of the championship, dating to 1881.
“I don’t care,” said Isner, who double-faulted to get broken in the last game of the third set, then was broken again while serving for the fourth. “I’m going to watch football for a while. That’s all I care about.”
A trio of American women are in the fourth round, because wild-card entry Alison Riske, who is ranked 81st, eliminated 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-0. The seventh-seeded Kvitova got her blood pressure checked by a trainer. She said later she had a virus and a fever.
There’s no doubt the other remaining U.S. women belong: No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 15 Sloane Stephens play each other Sunday with a quarterfinal berth on the line.