- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2006

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — For the first time in nearly a century, no Americans will play in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

The last U.S. player left in either the men’s or women’s draw — Shenay Perry — lost 6-2, 6-0 today to seventh-seeded Elena Dementieva.

The 62nd-ranked Perry was gone in 54 minutes. She dropped 10 straight games from 2-2 in the first set, ending the American challenge by lunchtime on the first day of the second week. The American absence was embarrassing given that the United States has by far won more Wimbledon singles titles (83) than any other country.

Perry said she felt the pressure of playing in her first Grand Slam fourth-round match and being the last American in the field.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I think it got to me a little bit. I think when anyone’s in a position that they’re thrown into for the first time, and being the last American, it is a little nerve-racking.”

The last time no Americans reached the quarterfinals at the All England Club was in 1911, when no U.S. woman and just three men were entered in the tournament. The last Grand Slam event with no Americans in the final eight was the 1976 Australian Open.

None of the nine American men in the draw this year reached the fourth round, with 1992 champion Andre Agassi and two-time finalist Andy Roddick losing Saturday to Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, respectively.

Dementieva will next face fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova, who overcame a tough challenge from Italy’s Flavia Pennetta before winning 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3. Sharapova, the 2004 champion and the only former women’s winner left in the draw, had 10 double-faults and 41 unforced errors. Pennetta won more points (112 to 110), but the Russian won the points that mattered the most.

Second-seeded Kim Clijsters ended the run of 17-year-old Polish wild card Agnieszka Radwanska, winning 6-2, 6-2. Her quarterfinal opponent will be Li Na, who upset 10th-seeded Nicole Vaidisova 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to become the first Chinese to reach the quarters of a Grand Slam.

Third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne beat No. 15 Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-1. She’ll face French qualifier Severine Bremond, who upset 18th-seeded Ai Sugiyma of Japan 7-6 (11), 6-3.

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