Citi Open: Last American out, historic all-Canadian final

Citi Open: Last American out, historic all-Canadian final
August 2, 2014, 10:15 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Donald Young ran out of magic and into Milos Raonic's power serve armed with bad intentions. The unseeded lefty and fifth-highest ranked American on tour dumped three seeded players before falling to No. 2 Raonic 6-4, 7-5 in the Citi Open semifinals on Saturday.

The result won't engender a double take. The big-serving Raonic ranks seventh in the world and is coming off a semifinals appearance at Wimbledon last month. Young entered the week ranked 73rd and on a four-match losing streak.

What's startling is how unsurprising it is that another tournament will end without a U.S. male winner. At least not one named John Isner.

Raonic will face unseeded Vasek Pospisil on Sunday in the first-ever all Canadian men's final in the Open era. Pospisil reached his first tour final by completing a rain delayed match against. No. 10 Santiago Giraldo and defeating No. 6 Richard Gasquet 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 during the evening session.

Young will crack the top 50 following this week's work. Countryman Steve Johnson, a quarterfinalist this week who also lost to Raonic, will move from 68 to just outside the top 50.

That's great because Isner probably felt lonely as the only American ranked inside the top 60 before the Citi Open.

Isner, 12th in the world and a second-round loser to Johnson this week, is isolated in another way. As of this week, he is the lone American to claim a tour title over the last 24 months.

The idea of there not being a dominant U.S. champion is nothing new. If Paul Simon wanted to update one of classic songs, Where have you gone Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang works, though admittedly a bit wordy.

Andy Roddick, the last American male to win a major, kept the flame going for a dozen years. The 2003 U.S. Open champion also had company in the top 20 or so for much of that time.

Thanks to his U.S. Open title, Roddick finished 2003 ranked No. 1. He was one of two Americans (Agassi) in the top 10 and one of seven in the top 40.  

At the time of the Citi Open in 2010, Roddick, Isner and Querrey were ranked 21 or better with Mardy Fish at 34. In 2011, Roddick's next to last season on tour, Fish ranked eighth, Roddick 12th and Isner 28.

One week before the 2012 Citi Open, Sam Querrey claimed the Los Angeles title. Since then, Isner has won five titles. For American men, that's it, that's the list.

" John's been holding us down for a while," Young said.

By comparison, American men won 23 of the 90 tour events in 1994. Sampras, Chang and Agassi contributed 18 titles to that total, but the likes of Todd Martin, Malivai Washington, Jared Palmer and David Wheaton also hoisted trophies.

Fewer tour stops overall -- nearly one-third have gone away since 1994 -- and in the States accounts for some of the disparity in titles. Some, not all. 

These are the types of details pondered by tennis historians or fans of a certain age. Young didn't worry about the state of American tennis when he defeated No. 17 Julien Benneteau, No. 1 5 Denis Istomin or No. 7 Kevin Anderson en route to his first semifinal appearance since 2011.

The 25-year-old and one -time holder of the "next great American player" label when he turned pro as a teenager in 2004 had his mind set on handling Raonic's massive serve. Third on tour in aces entering this week, Raonic smacked 15 against Young in addition to breaking his opponent's serve in the final game of each set.

"We're all kind of focused on ourselves. There is a group around 50, 60 that are playing well and getting to the semis and quarters," Young told CSNwashington following Saturday's match. " Sooner or later someone is going to make a breakthrough. That's going to happen. It's just a matter of time."

The Pospisil-Giraldo match was delayed Friday night after two sets due to weather.  Pospisil, who previously upset top seed Tomas Berdych, took the final set 6-4. Returning to the court around six hours later, the reigning Wimbledon doubles champion trailed 0-3 in the third set, but broke Gasquet for a 6-5 lead.

Kurumi Nara will face either No. 2 Ekaterina Makarova or No. 6 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the women's final on Sunday. Nara, a winner on the WTA Tour at Rio de Janeiro this year, rallied for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marina Erakovic.