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Beyond the Baseline

American men to fall out of top 20 for first time in 40 years

John Isner John Isner will fall out of the top 20 after his first-round loss at the Rogers Cup. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

No American men will be in the top 20 of next week's ATP rankings, the first time that has happened since the computer rankings started 40 years ago.

The dubious record was clinched on Tuesday when John Isner lost to Canadian wild card Vasek Pospisil 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The 20th-ranked Isner, who won the Atlanta Open two weeks ago and reached the Citi Open final last week, will be no higher than No. 22 in next Monday's rankings after failing to defend his semifinal points from last year's tournament.

Sam Querrey is the second-ranked American, at No. 26; he withdrew from the Rogers Cup for personal reasons. Next comes No. 76 Mardy Fish, 31, who was in the top 10 a year ago but has played only three ATP-level tournaments this year in his return from a heart condition.

It wasn't that long ago that fans and commentators were stressed about the prospect of having no American men in the top 10, let alone the top 20. The United States placed at least one player in the top 10 from the inception of the rankings system, in August 1973, until August 2010. But Andy Roddick's decline and subsequent retirement after about a decade of leading the American men, Fish's injury-related absences, the plateauing of Isner and Querrey and the inability of younger prospects to break through yet have hurt the U.S. cause. This year, for the first time since 1912, no U.S. men advanced to the third round of Wimbledon.

“It’s a worldwide sport now,” 31-year-old American Bobby Reynolds, who is ranked No. 131, said at Wimbledon. “I think most sports you look back, years ago, the Americans usually were very good, whether it’s basketball or baseball or tennis. Sports are becoming such a worldwide thing that everybody is so good now. I think that’s what we’re so used to looking back and saying, ‘Oh, look at all the dominance.’  But how many were actually playing worldwide as opposed to now? Every country has top guys playing tennis. I think that’s more of what it is rather than the lack of talent coming out of the States.”

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