Paris: Mardy Fish summed up the mindset of American tennis players at the French Open after his loss Saturday left the United States without a man or woman in the clay-court Grand Slam tournament's fourth round.
"It's never too early," the 10th-seeded Fish said, "to think about grass for us."
Only once before in the Open era, which began in 1968, had zero men or women from the U.S. reached the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament — and that was at the 1973 Australian Open, when no Americans entered.
Fish, a 29-year-old from Tampa, Fla., was beaten 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 by 18th-seeded Gilles Simon of France. Earlier in the day, the last U.S. woman playing singles at Roland Garros, 115th-ranked Vania King, lost 6-4, 6-2 to No. 9-seeded Petra Kvitova.
Nine men and nine women from the U.S. entered the French Open.
No American man has reached the quarterfinals in Paris since Andre Agassi in 2003. And 2005 was the last time a U.S. woman other than Serena or Venus Williams reached the fourth round.
"Look, we come here every year sort of with the same question: When are we going to put somebody in the quarters?" Fish said.
This French Open is also the 30th Grand Slam tournament in a row without a men's champion from the United States, matching the country's longest drought. The last American man to win a major title was Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.
Asked to assess the country's showing in 2011, Fish initially said "unsuccessful," but quickly changed that to "incomplete," noting the Williams sisters and Roddick all withdrew because of health issues.
Fish lost his opening match in three of five previous trips to Paris. But he eliminated 89th-ranked Ricardo Mello in four sets Tuesday, and 54th-ranked Robin Haase in straight sets Thursday.
Then, facing a Frenchman in the main stadium at Roland Garros, Fish split Saturday's first six games before Simon reeled off seven in a row to take control.
"I tried a lot of things. He's pretty comfortable out there, obviously, on that court. I've never played there," Fish said. "It'd be fun to be really good on that court."
Fish made 46 unforced errors, 20 more than Simon, and was broken five times.
"What I really liked is that he didn't really serve well, whereas usually his serve is so strong," said Simon, who plays 2009 and 2010 runner-up Robin Soderling next.
"There were moments when he was making so many errors. Sometimes it was one game given to me, sometimes two games," Simon said. "So at that moment, I thought, 'Oh, no.' I didn't want to show my emotions too much. I didn't want to shake him awake."
Fish tried to get himself going by smashing a racket, but that didn't change things.
He recently moved up to 10th in the rankings — ahead of Roddick — and this was the first time he'd been seeded so high at a Grand Slam tournament.
Now he feels as though he needs to back that up by performing well at the sport's biggest events.
And he's already looking forward to Wimbledon, which starts June 20, and the U.S. Open.
"Do I feel like I can beat anyone on a hard court or a grass court? Absolutely," Fish said. "I hope to answer that question for you in a month or so."