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Last of U.S. men flops in fifth set

No rust: Maria Sharapova, who played no warmup events to rest her ankle, has not dropped a set in three matches.

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No rust: Maria Sharapova, who played no warmup events to rest her ankle, has not dropped a set in three matches.

MELBOURNE, Australia — For the first time in four decades, there will be no American man in the fourth round of the Australian Open singles draw after John Isner lost to 18th-seeded Feliciano Lopez in the third round Friday.

This is the first time no U.S. player reached the men's fourth round here since 1973, when no Americans traveled to the event.

The 6-foot-9 Isner, playing his second consecutive five-set match, fell 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, 6-7 (7-0), 6-1 as Lopez earned a spot opposite No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

"It's very ugly, to be honest, to have no one in the round of 16," Isner said. "… I knew going in today I was the last one left and I wanted to keep on going, but just didn't happen."

Isner lapsed in the last set after dominating the fourth-set tiebreaker. "I just wasn't as sharp as I needed to be," he said. "It just kind of spiraled out of control there, and it just … I couldn't climb out of the hole I dug."

The last American man to win here was Andre Agassi in 2003. And no U.S. man has won a major since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.

Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic was nearly flawless in a 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 win against Nicolas Mahut in a third-round match early today. Every time Mahut tried to serve and volley, Djokovic would hit the return at his feet, cutting down the Frenchman's options.

In the third round on the women's side, Maria Sharapova beat Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2. The fourth-seeded Sharapova, who had been nursing a left ankle injury before this event, has dropped only five games in her first three matches.

She was pushed by Kerber during a long second set, with many games going to deuce.

"She reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year so she's been on the big stage before and I knew she could produce some really good tennis," Sharapova said.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was on court for 38 minutes before advancing. The second-seeded Czech was leading 6-0, 1-0 when Maria Kirilenko retired with a left thigh injury.

Vania King, the only other American besides Serena Williams in the Round of 16, lost 6-3, 6-4 to former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.

An early rematch of last year's women's final is already in place, with defending champion Kim Clijsters and Li Na both winning to set up a meeting in the fourth round. Clijsters advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniela Hantuchova. Li didn't finish four games before Anabel Medina Garrigues quit with a sprained ankle.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki will next play former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who beat American Christina McHale 6-2, 6-0.

.Tonight

Australian Open

TV: 7 p.m. Tennis; 9 p.m. ESPN2

Last of U.S. men flops in fifth set 01/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 12:06am]
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