While many in the U.S. continued their backyard celebrations of freedom from British tyranny, American tennis players found themselves drummed out of the motherland Monday with a series of tough losses on the grassy lawns of the All England Club.
Coco Gauff, Madison Keys and Sebastian Korda were all halted in their Wimbledon campaigns despite spirited play in their fourth-round matches on a gusty summer’s day. The wait for another American singles champion will extend to six years on the women’s side next year, since Serena Williams’ 2016 winning run, and 22 years on the men’s side, since Pete Sampras’ fifth title.
High hopes were pinned on Gauff, the 17-year-old Floridian who made a splash two years ago by working her way through the qualifying rounds and making it to the final 16 before falling to the eventual champion, Simona Halep. On Monday, she aimed to go at least one stage further as the tournament’s 20th seed, going up against 2018 titlist Angelique Kerber of Germany, who was seeded 25th.
Their hard-hitting exchanges, which saw both women yanked side to side by groundstrokes that went deep toward the baseline, drew gasps from a crowd more in Gauff’s corner than Kerber’s. Together, the two players smacked 47 winners.
But there were errors, too, including a costly double fault by Gauff at break point in the third game of the second set. That was all the opening needed by Kerber, who closed out the match with an ace after 76 minutes of play.
“There were times I had a lot of unforced errors just strictly for the fact of trying to go for too much,” Gauff said afterward. “In the past, I have had tendencies to play too passive, and now I’m playing too aggressive. I think I just need to find the medium for when the score is tight and I’m feeling the pressure. I need to find a good middle.”
The 33-year-old Kerber paid tribute to an opponent barely half her age.
“Coco is such a great, talented young player,” Kerber said. “Maybe one time she will get the title because I like how she’s playing, how she’s professional, and I think she has a great future in front of her.”
Playing on his 21st birthday, Korda, another rising star and the only American man to make it to the second week in the singles draw, had his dream of reaching the quarterfinals snuffed out by Russian Karen Khachanov in a 3-hour, 49-minute slugfest that Korda could just as easily have won. In the decisive fifth set, neither man seemed capable of holding his nerve or his serve, combining for 13 service breaks — a record for a single set in a Wimbledon men’s match.
Khachanov, 25, failed to serve out the match three times in a head-shaking display of wild shots and wailed shouts. He finally succeeded in the 18th game, prevailing 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8. Khachanov finished with a total of 169 points to Korda’s 161.
Korda called it “an awesome day” anyway.
“Ever since I decided to play tennis I always dreamed about having my birthday here at Wimbledon. I knew if I would have my birthday here I’d have a really good week,” he said. “Had my first birthday here. Hopefully many more.”
Keys lost to unseeded Swiss player Victorija Golubic 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The three Americans helped make Wimbledon history anyway: Their matches were part of Wimbledon’s last Manic Monday (sometimes also called Magic Monday), the traditional start of the tournament’s second week when all 16 fourth-round matches, on the men’s and women’s sides, are played in a single day. Starting next year, the middle Sunday of the fortnight will no longer be a day of rest but instead a day of match play, relieving the pressure on organizers to squeeze in so many contests the following day.
“Manic Monday, Magic Monday – people have got all their own opinions about whether it was great or a bit of a curse,” tournament chief Sally Bolton said.
“One of the challenges of Manic Monday is that people have to choose which match they’re watching because there’s so many great matches being scheduled up against each other inevitably. So I think we’re looking forward to giving maximum opportunity for people to see all of the matches that they want to see.”
In another notable result, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic continued his imperious march through to what many tennis analysts believe will be another Wimbledon final, and likely trophy, for him come Sunday. The 34-year-old Serb swatted aside 17th-seeded Cristian Garin of Chile in less than two hours, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Eight-time champion Roger Federer became the oldest man to reach the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in the Open era by turning back Italian Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. The Swiss master, who turns 40 next month, will be making a record-extending 18th quarterfinal appearance.