NEW YORK — Might be best to say that Tim Smyczek, much like American men’s tennis, ran out of gas Sunday night.
The 25-year-old from Milwaukee, who served up a funny headline when he told about how the car he was riding in ran out of gas en route to the US Open last week, was two points away from helping his country avoid an ignominious fate.
‘‘I never heard somebody yell out from the stands, ‘You’re our last hope,’ ” Smyczek said.
But he could not pull through against Marcel Granollers.
Smyczek lost, 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5, in front of a rowdy crowd chanting ‘‘USA! USA!’’ Now the Americans don’t have a single man in the round of 16 for the first time since the tournament started in 1881.
‘‘Couldn’t be much more disappointed right now, but these are the kind of situations you dream about,’’ Smyczek said. ‘‘It was pretty cool to be the last American in the draw for a day. Got a little taste of it.’’
Not that this latest American flop is all on Smyczek, who came in ranked 109th and was making his first appearance in the third round of a Grand Slam.
It was scheduling as much as anything that left him standing alone — last among the 15 US men who started this tournament. Last month, for the first time in the 40 years of the ATP rankings, there was a week with no US men in the top 20.
‘‘I know we got really spoiled with Pete [Sampras], Andre [Agassi], all those guys, and Andy [Roddick] for so many years,’’ Smyczek said. ‘‘But I think it’s also a really exciting time because there’s five, six, seven guys that are hovering right around 100 and have a good chance to make a big breakthrough.’’
For a while during the 3-hour, 24-minute match against Granollers, it very much looked like he might be moving on to Week 2 — and that maybe he’d be in the news for something other than the mishap he experienced before his first-round match, when the tournament-provided car he was riding in ran out of gas en route to Flushing Meadows.
‘‘Just glad we didn’t break down in the Midtown Tunnel,’’ Smyczek joked that day.
One American who has shown little sign of breaking down is Serena Williams, the tourney’s top-seeded woman.
Compatriot Sloane Stephens — the 15th seed and one of only three players to beat Williams this season — played her even for eight games.
Then Williams took over.
Taking eight of the last nine games, Williams, the defending champion, returned to the quarterfinals by beating the 20-year-old Stephens, 6-4, 6-1.
‘‘When you give her that opportunity to take that step forward, she definitely makes her move,’’ Stephens said.
Williams advanced to play No. 18 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who defeated No. 8 Angelique Kerber of Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3). Asked whether there’s any chance of a letdown after getting past Stephens, Williams replied: ‘‘Absolutely not. I mean, I've been at this for a long time, so for me in my career, there are no letdowns.’’
Game 4 lasted 18 points over 11 minutes, and featured a 119-m.p.h. service winner by Stephens, who also delivered a cross-court backhand winner to cap a 10-shot point. When that game ended, it wasn’t yet time to change ends, but both women wandered over to the sideline to towel off.
Soon, Williams nosed ahead, breaking to 4-2 with a cross-court forehand return winner off a 101-m.p.h. serve, then clenching a fist and shouting, ‘‘Come on!’’ But she handed a break right back in the next game by double-faulting on each of the last two points.
‘‘I have to stop that,’’ Williams said.
Afterward, Stephens spoke about embracing others’ expectations and her personal goal of moving into the top 10 in the rankings by year’s end. She also spoke about Williams, of course, and kept returning to a concept that was rather clear on this day, saying more than once: ‘‘She’s No. 1 in the world for a reason.’’
Earlier on a humid day at Arthur Ashe Stadium, defending men’s champion Andy Murray staggered around the court between points.
Once a point started in the third-round match, he sprinted down every ball, as usual. Struggling with his breathing, Murray needed a set to find his rhythm against 47th-ranked Florian Mayer, then rolled the rest of the way to a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2 victory.
‘‘The expectations are higher, but there’s not as much pressure to win,’’ Murray said. ‘‘I feel much more comfortable coming into these events than this time last year.’’
He’ll next face 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who won a five-setter against No. 20-seeded Andreas Seppi, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1.