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Editor's note: Beginning Aug. 16, Ravi Ubha unveils the top 10 U.S. Open questions. Check back each weekday until Aug. 27 as we count down to No. 1.
8. What's the status of the American men?
The apex of American men's tennis gone, it was inevitable that one day no American men would feature in the top 10. The rest of the world has caught up.
But the timing was a little ironic.
As an ill Andy Roddick slipped from ninth to 11th on Aug. 9, Sam Querrey wasn't far removed from claiming his fourth title of the season. Querrey defended his crown in Los Angeles, overcoming one of the world's best players in the process, Andy Murray.
Mardy Fish, Roddick's buddy, is playing the best tennis of his life. Fish won back-to-back titles in Newport, R.I., and Atlanta, bolstered by improved fitness. In fact, he's getting used to earning silverware every week. When his 11-match winning streak was snapped in Washington, D.C., Fish ensured another jubilant weekend by winning the doubles title with veteran Mark Knowles.
John Isner has rocketed to inside the top 20, winning his first top-level tournament in January and prevailing in the longest tennis match in history. (He's sick of talking about it, mind you.) Fourteen months ago, Isner was 104th -- usually the last direct acceptance at majors.
Assuming he returns to good health, and this week in Cincinnati will tell us much, Roddick again leads the U.S. men's hopes at Flushing Meadows. Querrey, Fish and Isner can do damage, though, in supporting roles.
For Querrey, the tournament is particularly vital. Despite the progress (and it is progress), only once in 2010 has the Californian surpassed the third round at a Grand Slam or Masters event. His jubilant fan club, the Samurai, will provide ample backing, again.
A confident Fish is a handful for anyone on a faster surface, as Murray, Roddick and Isner have discovered this summer. He also put up good results prior to the U.S. Open in 2008 -- then reached the quarterfinals in Flushing.
Isner pulled off one of the biggest upsets of last year's U.S. Open, defeating Roddick in five sets. He's now a better player, mature and possessing a big-match temperament. Isner's health is a worry, though, given he injured his ankle Wednesday.
Don't forget Taylor Dent. Dent's victory, and ensuing celebration, after edging Spaniard Ivan Navarro a year ago was one of the most memorable moments in recent U.S. Open history. James Blake's season has been ruined by injuries, and it showed in a 45-minute loss in Cincinnati on Tuesday. Perhaps he can sneak in a win or two at his most productive Slam.