By Jahmal Corner
(Reuters) – American men have failed to emulate the glory of their female compatriots at the U.S. Open in recent years and appear to have little hope of ending a 15-year drought at Flushing Meadows since Andy Roddick’s 2003 win.
With six titles, Serena Williams has dominated the final Grand Slam of the season but will have strong home rivals in the draw this week, including defending champion Sloane Stephens.
Stephens faced Madison Keys in last year’s final, an all-American showdown not seen in the men’s tournament since Pete Sampras defeated Andre Agassi for the 2002 crown.
Roddick’s runner-up finish in 2006 was the last run to the final by an American man, and there have been few highlights since in an era so thoroughly dominated by the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
At 33, John Isner and his huge serve will carry the brunt of local hopes in the men’s draw following his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon.
Beyond Isner, there is little cause for optimism.
Steve Johnson has achieved a pair of low-profile wins this season and reached the final of the Winston-Salem Open on Sunday when he lost to Daniil Medvedev 6-4 6-4.
Johnson was vying to become the first player in 2018 to win a title on three different surfaces.
“I really was hoping to be last man standing today but it wasn’t the deal,” Johnson told reporters following his final loss in Winston Salem.
“Hopefully we’ll get up to New York and have a great couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll finish that trifecta up in New York.”
Much was expected of Jack Sock after he broke into the top 10 during a strong 2017, but he has battled ankle problems and heads to Flushing Meadows without a win since May.
Sam Querrey, a quarter-finalist last year, has also been well off peak form through the early hardcourt season.
Frances Tiafoe, at 20, may be at long odds to end a generation of futility for U.S. men.
The youngster has been a player on the rise and last year enjoyed a banner triumph against world number four Alexander Zverev, while pushing Federer to five sets in the opening round of the U.S. Open.
“I always dreamed of being on centre court, playing the best in the world,” Tiafoe told weeklystandard.com. “It finally happened so I was ready for it.”
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge)