Frances Tiafoe continued to be so close to extending her Roland-Garros match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times on Saturday night, the American was two points away from forcing things to a fifth set.
Yet 12th seed Tiafoe never got any closer than that.
Instead, 22nd-seeded Zverev completed his 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5) victory after more than 3.5 hours at Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe out, none of the 16 USA men who were in the roster at the start of the tournament are still on the court.
Two others lost earlier on Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unranked Marcos Giron.
Number 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 .
There are three Americans left: #6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.
This is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will appear in the fourth round of Roland Garros. At least it represents a symbolic step back for the band after what seemed like a few breakthroughs at the last two majors.
Remember: no American has won a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 US Open. The French Open was the least successful major of that streak, with no American reaching the quarter-finals since Andre Agassi in 2003.
But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the US Open before advancing to the semi-finals last September, the first time in 16 years that the host country had a representative in the men’s last four at Flushing Meadows.
Then, at the Australian Open in January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul took it a step beyond, to the semi-finals.
After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans have been ranked in the ATP Top 50, which last happened in June 1995.
On Saturday, after setting aside a volley over the shoulder – he leaned over the top of the net for a moment in disbelief – Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the case.
In this match, and the next, and later too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would be two points away from owning that set.
Each time, Zverev claimed the next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big screams. Then the two, who have been friends for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand on Tiafoe’s head.
“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who has twice reached the semi-finals on clay in Paris, “but on the court I try to win.”
At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while facing Nadal in the semi-finals and had to stop.
“It was definitely the toughest year of my life, for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”
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Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz leave Roland Garros, leaving no American men originally appeared on NBCSports.com