This finally may be American men’s time at the U.S. Open, which is less than three weeks away.
With Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka pulling out because of injuries and Andy Murray iffy, a major slump for the United States could end with big runs at the Open that starts Aug. 28 at Flushing Meadows.
Maybe even President Trump, a frequent Open patron with his own box, can take credit for it.
There hasn’t been an American men’s U.S. Open quarterfinalist since 2011 or a semifinalist since 2006. For two straight years, 2013 and 2014, there wasn’t even an American who made it to the fourth round of the men’s draw. In 2015 and 2016, a combined three American men got to the fourth round and were dismantled there.
“It was like the Yankees of the late 1960s,’’ USTA’s communications chief Chris Widmaier told The Post.
Maybe not much longer. Jack Sock, Sam Querrey and veteran John Isner will each be threats to get at least to the quarterfinals. On their home hardcourts, Sock and Querrey may be dark-horse picks for the semifinals.
Querrey, 29, is coming off a semifinal berth at Wimbledon in July and is the only active American male to get that far in a Grand Slam event.
“I’m very hopeful,’’ USTA’s director of player development Martin Blackman told The Post. “The draw’s definitely opened without Djokovic, Stan, maybe Murray. Our top guys are on a really good trajectory, having good results, playing well. It’s a big opportunity for them. The opportunity is there, and momentum is there.
“I think there’s a possibility four, five Americans get to the fourth round,’’ he added.
The casual sports fan may only be jarred if there’s an American run to the final weekend. A large segment of the tennis cognoscenti only craves the potential of a first Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer showdown at the Open.
“It always helps American tennis at the grassroots level with spectators when we have Americans in the last weekend of the Slams,’’ Blackman said. “It’s very important and has a huge impact and gets more interest.’’
While the iconic Federer’s run to a Wimbledon title gained all the attention, Querrey’s run to a grass-court semifinals got overshadowed. He beat Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kevin Anderson along the way, his weak backhand and court coverage largely improved. Querrey’s bid ended against Marin Cilic in a taut, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 defeat.
In March, Querrey also won the Acapulco ATP event, beating the so-called next generation in Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and topping Nadal in the finals.
“I think Querrey has the chops to do it this year,’’ tennis historian/book publisher Randy Walker said.
“It was so much fun to watch Sam at Wimbledon this year,’’ Blackman added. “I feel it started last year at Wimbledon when he was down two sets to [Lukas] Rosol and won in five sets and had the great run beating Djokovic. Coming back this year, he was feeling external pressure to repeat. What stood out was his court positioning improved tremendously, and he stepped into the court and took the ball earlier, and his backhand improved tremendously. He’s always had a great forehand.’’
As does Sock, the 24-year-old powerhouse from Nebraska who is the highest-ranked American at No. 17. But he suffered a stunning second-round loss at Wimbledon to an Austrian qualifier.
“If there is going to be a next American to win a Grand Slam, obviously I hope it’s me,’’ Sock said at Wimbledon. “The selfish side of tennis, I hope it’s me.’’
The last American male to win the Open was newly minted Hall of Fame member Andy Roddick in 2003. Sock was the lone American to reach the fourth round last September.
“Jack loves playing at the Open,’’ Blackman said. “He didn’t have the Wimbledon he wanted. He notched a big win vs. [Milos] Raonic in D.C. His forehand’s going to really move, and he always does a good job managing the summer to peak at the Open.’’
Isner is the last American to make an Open quarterfinal – in 2011 – and has posted two ATP tour titles this summer, but the 6-foot-10 Georgia product usually gets worn down in the later stages of the Open. Isner also got bounced early from a key Open tuneup in Montreal this week.
The two main American young prospects on the rise are supremely athletic Frances Tiafoe, 19, who recently reached his highest ranking at No. 60 last month, and 20-year-old Jared Donaldson. Blackman wouldn’t rule out their chances of a fourth-round bid.
A stirring Open for the Americans would become a nice capper to a year in which the USTA opened its gorgeous new training campus in Orlando, replete with clay and high-tech courts that track analytics.
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