Realistic expectations for U.S. men

Along with the support, however, there is usually the pressure that comes with playing at home. The state of American men's tennis has attracted plenty of comment, particularly after Roddick's retirement in 2012 and former top-10 player  Mardy Fish taking an indefinite break from the sport because of psychological reasons related to a heart problem he experienced in 2012. But years of not contending has also reduced expectations and led to a lower profile for the American men. Isner is the only U.S. representative in the top 40, with five others -- Donald Young, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Sam Querrey and Tim Smyczek -- in the top 100. A year ago, Isner and wild card Smyczek were the only Americans to reach the third round in the men's draw.

When there is scrutiny, the players have generally responded by dismissing comparisons to previous generations and attempting to avoid the responsibility of augmenting the status of American tennis.

"I don't feel any pressure. I'm playing for myself," Querrey said in an interview with ESPN.com. "I want to do the best I can.

"When people talk about, 'no American man's making the semifinals.' I don't [think] it affects any one of us."

They are also expressing modest expectations. "It's a big tournament, but they're all big tournaments for me right now," Querrey, whose ranking has dipped to No. 56, said of the US Open. "I'll take wins wherever.

"In 2010, 2012, 2009, some of the years when I was in the top 20, I wanted to feel good going into the Open, hoping to make a run."

Isner's best showing was a quarterfinal in 2011, also his best Grand Slam result. "It's one of my favorite tournaments," he said. "I would say it's our Grand Slam. I've always played extremely well there, also."

Being a top U.S. up-and-comer has usually come with intense pressure, but the demands are now reduced. Jack Sock, 21, says the presence of Isner and other veterans means he has not yet been thrust into the spotlight.

"It's not there yet," Sock said in an interview with ESPN.com. "John and those guys have done a great job staying up there. I'm just trying to improve all the time myself and keep winning and keep moving up the rankings."

Sock, who won the Wimbledon doubles with Canadian Vasek Pospisil and reached the third round of the US Open in 2013, appears to like the big occasion.

"I feel more the advantage than the pressure," he said. "I've typically not been the one to get too nervous when I play. I kind of welcome it. The more, the merrier; louder, the better. Especially playing in front of your home crowds, I've had some pretty unbelievable experiences -- some pretty electric atmospheres."

The thinness in the men's ranks is in contrast to the American women's side, which has  Serena Williams at No. 1, Venus Williams returning to the top 20 and a strong presence in the top 50 that includes younger players such as  Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

"Obviously you feel, you know, a little bit more attention when you're in the U.S. and it's before the US Open," Keys said. "But, I mean, it is kind of nice being a girl because there are so many of us right now. There is not one sole focus. Then obviously we have Venus and Serena, who are still doing really well."

Of the guys, she said, "You'd have to ask them, but I would imagine it's probably -- I think the girls are a little bit happier."

But whatever their reaction, there's less attention being paid to it these days.

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