MELBOURNE, Australia — Day 3 at the Australian Open began with the giddy turn of events that 20 American players were still alive in the men's and women's draws.
As the sun began to set Wednesday on Melbourne Park, that optimism had waned as well. Two of the top three ranked American men, John Isner and Steve Johnson, were defeated and the third, Jack Sock, was just getting on the court.
Roger Federer, continuing his comeback from a knee injury, looked solid in defeating American qualifier Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday to reach the Australian Open third round.
It was hardly a surprise that the No. 30-ranked Johnson went out, since he was a victim of No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka, the reigning US Open champion, was never seriously threatened.
Isner, however, was seeded No. 19 and a commanding favorite over Mischa Zverev, the older and overlooked brother of German teenage sensation Alexander Zverev. But — after losing the first two sets — Zverev solved the massive serves of Isner and came away with a 6-7 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (9), 9-7 victory.
"I had countless chances to tilt the match in my favor," a despondent Isner said later. "I didn't capitalize. I felt I could have won the match in straight sets. I got frustrated, and frustration led to tension and it snowballed from there.
"I couldn't get out of my own way. He stayed the course better than I did — it's as simple as that. I've been around a long time. I should know better than that."
The match required 4 hours, 10 minutes and produced some cartoonish numbers. Isner finished with 33 aces and 98 winners. But the most important statistic belonged to the 29-year-old Zverev: He saved 16 of 17 break points.
The lone good news? No. 31 seed Sam Querrey defeated Australian teenager Alex De Minaur, 7-6 (5), 6-0, 6-1. Three American men play in Thursday's second round: Frances Tiafoe, Ernesto Escobedo and Donald Young.
Twenty Americans reached the second round in Melbourne, the most of any major since the 2002 US Open.