Paris Robby Ginepri is easy to spot at the French Open in his oh-so-American getup: black baseball cap turned backward and sleeveless T-shirt.
He advanced to the fourth round at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament Saturday, the first man from the United States to reach that stage since Andre Agassi in 2003.
That Ginepri would beat Florent Serra of France, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, is not necessarily newsworthy, in and of itself. Ginepri is 25 years old, ranked 88th and was a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2005; Serra is 27, ranked 94th and lost in the first or second round at each of the previous 13 major championships he entered.
Yet consider this: A week ago, Ginepri owned an 0-5 record at Roland Garros and a 6-24 career mark on clay. He was ranked 171st in January after losing in the first round of qualifying at the Australian Open.
Had Ginepri lost, one day after Venus and Serena Williams were sent home, this French Open would have been only the second Grand Slam event in the 40-year history of the Open era at which zero American men or women reached the fourth round. The only time it happened was at the 1973 Australian Open, where, it must be noted, zero American men or women were in the field.
Five men from France reached the French Open's fourth round, something that last occurred in 1971. There also are five Russian women still around, and, coincidentally, four find themselves in the same quarter of the draw, led by No. 1 Maria Sharapova.
She faces No. 13 Dinara Safina for a place in the quarterfinals; the winner will meet No. 7 Elena Dementieva or No. 11 Vera Zvonareva. All won in straight sets Saturday, as did No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion and 2006 French Open runner-up, who eliminated yet another Russian, No. 25 Nadia Petrova. Sharapova was a 7-6 (4), 6-0 winner against No. 32 Karin Knapp of Italy.