American men have strong day at the U.S. Open

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It was a good day for American men's tennis Thursday.

Andy Roddick, the top-seeded American man at No. 5, advanced with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marc Gicquel last night. The next three Americans on the rankings ladder advanced with reasonably comfortable victories during the day. It may not mark a resurgence of American dominance in the game, which is unlikely in this highly globalized sport, but it sure felt good.

Sam Querrey (No. 22) beat fellow American Kevin Kim, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4. Querrey has had a splendid summer and sees the American game as at least revitalized.

"We've got Andy in the top 10 for almost 10 years," Querrey said. "Hopefully James [Blake] can get back up there. Hopefully Mardy [Fish] can get healthy. John Isner is doing really well. Jessie Levine is in the second round. Jesse Witten is in the third round.

"Hopefully everyone won't just do well this week, they'll do well throughout the year and we can bounce back. I think we can make it like it once was in the '90s."

That was the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi era and it is probably asking a lot of this group to match those Hall of Fame players in major championships and international cachet. Still, Querrey sees the American men pulling together as a group while each wants to be at the top of the heap.

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"You know, everyone cheers for each other," he said. "But at the same time everyone wants to be better than the other one. When I see Andy win or James win or Isner win or [Robby] Ginepri win, I'm happy for those guys, but at the same time I want to be the highest-ranked American. I think all those guys feel the same way, too."

Blake, who has sunk in the rankings to No. 23 this year because of a bad toe and bad play, beat the tenacious Olivier Rochus, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3. Blake's been as high as No. 4 in the world but hasn't made it past the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam event. He was encouraged by his play against Rochus.

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"It's good to get that test so you're not wondering if it's fourth round, quarterfinals or something and you're in a fifth set and wondering if your body will hold up," Blake said. "I feel confident about a close match . . . Going forward if it's 6-all in the tiebreaker Saturday when I'm playing [Tommy] Robredo, I can go for my shots and feel confident."

As for the American advance here, "We're all happy for each other. It's great to see us feeding off each other," said Blake, who tempered optimism about American dominance.

"To compare us or to expect the same as what happened in years past, I always said I think it's a little unfair," he said. "The game has changed so much. It's become much more globalized. I don't think there's going to be countries dominating the way we did in years past with the likes of Sampras, Agassi, Chang."

Isner (No. 55), who beat Turkey's Marsel Ilhan, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (1), isn't surprised about the Americans' success. "This is the surface most of us excel at," he said.

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