KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- From the first points, you could see Mardy Fish was not into his quarterfinal match at the Sony Ericsson Open. His legs didn't move. His arms didn't work.
He missed four of his first five serves. He shook his head after the dismal first set.
"The worst tennis he's ever played," said Patrick McEnroe, the ESPN commentator and Fish's former Davis Cup captain.
This would be noteworthy only to Mardy Fish, except at this latest tournament he was the Last American Standing. Male or female. Seeded or unseeded. Born or naturalized.
Every athlete at every level goes through it -- a slump, a curse, an inexplicable stretch when nothing seems to work out and everything breaks against it. But can it happen to an entire country?
After Fish was run off the court in a 1-6, 3-6 loss to Argentina's Juan Monaco, U.S. tennis was on an 0-for-67 streak. That's the number of tournaments the American men (36) and women (31) have gone without a win.
What can American tennis do to change? Petition the Supreme Court for help?
"Oh, I don't know," Serena Williams said earlier this tournament when asked about the problem.
That's all she said, too. It's as good an answer as any. No one knows precisely what's wrong. No one knows the way out. Better junior programs? Looser immigration laws?
Here's a stat: No American male has won a Grand Slam event since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003. That's a run of 33 majors. In the 1990s, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi won 18 of 40 majors. Nearly half. Now? Bupkus.
The American women don't go that far, thanks to the Williams sisters. Serena won Wimbledon 2010. But Venus is 31 now, Serena keeps breaking down and the only other American woman in the top 50 is Christian McHale at 32nd.
This matters only so much because tennis is an individual sport where there's limited patriotic rooting interest. It's not like there's a fan base that booed Roddick off the court for losing here in the way Chad Henne was accompanied off the Dolphins' field.
But have you found even the big tennis events seem to grow more distant with each passing year? Who won the Australian Open? Do you want to watch the French Open?
Here's the real question: Who do you root for?
The tennis purists always will find someone. It's their sport. But the casual fan is drifting from tennis in America because American tennis is drifting.
The Williams sisters lost earlier this week. Tenth-ranked John Isner followed his upset of Roger Federer in the previous tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., by losing in the second round here.
One American flag waved Thursday for Fish in a sea of Argentinian colors.
"It feels like a South American-type tournament, for sure," Fish said, quickly adding, "but it's nice."
No one begrudges Fish, who has climbed beyond most career expectations, for being the last American to fall here. But this wasn't even a match.
"I was pressing a lot just because he wasn't giving me anything," Fish said. "He wasn't giving me any errors. He made one error in the first set and (got his first serve in) 98 percent.
"That's tough to beat, you know, especially for someone who moves as well as he does."
The Americans move out. The Sony Ericsson moves on. Monaco even got a birthday cake presented to him on the court after the match and the crowd sang, "Happy Birthday" to him.
Fish? He slammed a racquet by his bench, threw his bag over a shoulder and quickly disappeared down the stadium tunnel, taking the last hope of American tennis with him for another tournament.