Taylor Fritz plays a forehand at the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on Sept. 27, 2020 in Paris.
Eight U.S. men have qualified for the second round at the 2020 French Open, and only five of them were alive the last time so many Americans advanced that far in men’s singles at Roland Garros.
The year was 1996 when nine U.S. men advanced, highlighted by top-ranked Pete Sampras. Fast forward 24 years later and seven men advanced Monday and one on Tuesday, marking the most since 1996. Taylor Fritz, John Isner, Sebastian Korda, Michael McDonald, Tommy Paul, Tennys Sandgren and Jack Sock all booked their places in the second round on Monday, with Marcos Giron doing so on Tuesday.
Of the eight, the only one likely to have memories of that 1996 tournament is the 35-year-old Isner, who is the top-ranked American man in the field. Only Isner, Giron, McDonald, Sandgren and Sock were alive to see it.
Back in 1996 it was Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Richey Reneberg, Sampras, Jeff Tarango, David Wheaton and Chris Woodruff who advanced at Roland Garros. Six of them ended up advancing to the third round, with Sampras and Courier going on to meet in an all-American quarterfinal. Sampras advanced to the semis, the best-ever performance at the French Open for the Olympian, before falling to eventual champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia. Among U.S. men, only Agassi has done better since, winning in 1999.
Unlike 1996 when Sampras (1), Agassi (3), Chang (4) and Courier (7) were all seeded in the top 10, just two U.S. players in 2020 own one of 32 seeds. Isner is seeded No. 21 and Fritz is No. 27.
The eight first-round wins is a big improvement for Team USA from the 2019 tournament, when just one U.S. man, Fritz, advanced to the second round.