One is a tall blond with matinee-idol looks who may be the future of American tennis. The other is a freckled redhead who came out of retirement and played in the U.S. Open as a wild card.
Jan-Michael Gambill and Geoff Grant came within a few points of glory Sunday, but within a span of 14 minutes both were losers - joining most of the tournament's American players in defeat.As the U.S. Open completed its first week, only two American men - former champions Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi - remained on court. A tournament once dominated by its host nation has turned into a showcase for global tennis.
The number of Americans in the men's main draw, which does not include wild cards and qualifiers, has declined steadily over the last two decades. In 1981, there were 74 U.S. men in the main draw. This year there were 10.
Top-seeded Martina Hingis and No. 6 Monica Seles advanced toward a battle in the women's quarterfinals, despite struggling in fourth-round matches. Also winning was No. 3 Jana Novotna.
The men lost another seeded player when No. 5 Richard Krajicek withdrew in the second set of his match against Thomas Johansson with tendinitis in his left knee. The winners included No. 11 Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
Gambill, expected to make his Davis Cup debut for the United States later this month, lost 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to French Open champion Carlos Moya in a three-hour match in which both players tossed rackets in frustration.
With his family leading rhythmic clapping and fans chanting "U-S-A, all the way," Gambill took a 4-3 lead in the final set and was up 40-15 on his serve. But Moya, nursing a left ankle injury, rallied to win the game and get back on serve.
After his shot sailed long to give Moya the game, Gambill stood forlornly at the net - bent at the waist, staring down at the court.
Gambill, a 21-year-old blond from Spokane, Wash., nicknamed "Hollywood" by his peers, faced a match point two games later after a shot by Moya clipped the net and bounced high over Gambill's racket. Gambill threw his racket in disgust, then saved the match point with a lob.
Gambill made several errors in the tiebreaker, netting a forehand on Moya's third match point and walking slowly to the net in defeat as Moya raised his arms to the crowd.
"I definitely missed a serious opportunity. I gave him the match, basically. He didn't do anything special," Gambill said. "I made some errors on the crucial points."
Moya, the 10th seed, had rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat Michael Chang in a marathon match that lasted until 1:33 a.m. Saturday.
While Gambill was walking off court, Grant was running out of steam two courts away. Grant, ranked 189th in the world, lost 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to Oliver Gross in a match that lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes and left both players cramping at the end.
The 28-year-old from Boston retired from tennis in 1994 and was a part-time model. He resumed his career at the1995 U.S. Open when, still wearing his business suit, he took a subway to sign up in the qualifying tournament.
Grant, the last wild-card entrant in the men's field, had 86 unforced errors against Gross, a platinum blond who presented a stark fashion contrast to the red-haired Grant.
The women's favorites continued their march through the tournament, with only two seeded players being eliminated in the first week.
But neither Hingis nor Seles had an easy time Sunday. Hingis battled her own serve, hitting nine double faults and 41 unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-4 win over Nathalie Dechy in which the normally unflappable Hingis kicked balls and tossed her racket around the court.
"I'm just kind of escaping every day. Instead of getting better, I'm getting worse," Hingis said. "All of a sudden, you're out there on the court and you just can't hit the ball in the court."
Hingis and Seles both had trouble with a swirling wind that blew napkins and candy wrappers around Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"No tournament I've played in my career has as much wind as this one," Seles said. "I don't think any of the players can figure out why. I just don't think it's fair toward the players because it's hard to really play your game."
Seles also broke four rackets in the match, leaving just two in her bag.
"They cracked. I think it was the heat, it was so hot for them," she said.