Last American out of French Open |

Last American out of French Open

Steven Wine
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
United States' Robby Ginepri waves as he leaves the court after being defeated by Chili's Fernando Gonzalez during their fourth round match at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on Monday June 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS ” Robby Ginepri leaves Paris with considerable consolation: He was the last American to lose at the French Open.

Ginepri’s surprising run ended Monday when he was beaten by No. 24-seeded Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-1.

Conquering an aversion to clay common among Americans, Ginepri became the first U.S. man to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Andre Agassi in 2003. He hung with Gonzalez until losing serve twice in a row late in the second set.

“A disappointing performance on my part today, to not have my A game when I really expected it to be there,” Ginepri said. “At the same time, it was great last week and great tournament. I’ll probably be a little bit more happy tomorrow, but at the moment I’m a little discouraged with the way it went today.”

Gonzalez benefited from a wider variety of shotmaking than Ginepri, mixing drop shots and slices with a penetrating forehand, and looked more comfortable with his footwork on the dirt. The Chilean also showed more patience in long rallies.

“I tried to end the points too quickly,” Ginepri said. “I should have turned it more into a grind test. A five-hour grind test would have favored me a little bit more.”

Gonzalez improved to 16-0 this year on clay, although he withdrew before the third round in Rome because of a hamstring injury. He faces a potential quarterfinal matchup against top-ranked Roger Federer.

At No. 88, Ginepri was the lowest-ranked player left in the men’s draw. He began the tournament with an 0-5 record at Roland Garros, and by winning three matches, he clinched a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.

Elena Dementieva advanced to the women’s quarterfinals, winning five consecutive games to start the final set and beating fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

For the No. 7-seeded Dementieva, it’s the best showing at Roland Garros since she was runner-up to champion Anastasia Myskina in 2004. Dementieva closed out the victory by smacking a backhand winner, then celebrated with a whirling leap and a yelp.

“I do believe in myself,” Dementieva said. “I think I’m not a favorite to win the whole thing, but just really enjoy what I’m doing right now.”

The 11th-seeded Zvonareva committed 41 unforced errors and grew increasingly frustrated as the final set slipped away. After falling behind 3-0, she pounded the clay with her racket three times ” forehand, backhand and forehand.

Dementieva and Zvonareva were among five Russian women in the final 16.

“I feel like I’m playing a Russian championship, not Roland Garros,” Dementieva said.

On Sunday, three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal returned to the quarterfinals by beating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-0, 6-2.

The win was Nadal’s most lopsided yet at Roland Garros, where he’s 25-0. He had lost at least six games in each previous match.

Seeded second behind Federer, Nadal is bidding to become the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1981 to win a fourth consecutive French Open title. On Tuesday ” Nadal’s 22nd birthday ” he’ll play yet another Spaniard, childhood chum Nicolas Almagro, who beat Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (0), 7-6 (7), 7-5.

“If I win, it’s going to be a beautiful birthday present,” Nadal said. “And if it’s not, well, too bad.”

Almagro, seeded 19th, is making his first appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal. When he had completed his fourth-round victory, he turned to his family and friends in the stands and moved his hand from front to back across his hair, as though holding clippers.

“That was a bet that I had with my team. So now I won,” he said. “I’m going to shave their heads. I’ll use the razor. … I don’t know how my father is going to react when I shave his head. I won’t do that to my mother.”

Also renewing a friendly rivalry Tuesday will be No. 3-seeded Novak Djokovic and 19-year-old Ernests Gulbis. They shared adventures on and off the court a few years ago at coach Niki Pilic’s tennis academy in Munich, Germany.

“He was destroying me in practices. I couldn’t win a match. Practice? No chance,” Djokovic said. Jokingly he added: “So all the pressure’s on him, OK? He’s the favorite.”

Actually, Gulbis will be an underdog playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. He advanced by beating Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3, while Djokovic swept No. 18 Paul Henri-Mathieu 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

In the women’s quarterfinals, No. 2-seeded Ana Ivanovic will play No. 10 Patty Schnyder, and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic will face 19-year-old qualifier Carla Suarez Navarro.