Paris: Things are stirring down in the doldrums of US men`s tennis, top-ranked John Isner believes, and results at the French Open in Paris are further proof that better times lie ahead.
The giant 10th seed defeated Spanish claycourt specialist Tommy Robredo 7-6 (15/13), 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time in six appearances.
In so doing he became the first American in the last 16 since Robby Ginepri in 2010 and with Jack Sock and Donald Young still to play, the US could have three men in the fourth round for the first time since 1995.
Isner, who next faces Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych, said that the criticisms levelled at the current crop of US male players were, in the main, justified.
"Right now there is only one player in the top 50 in America, for America right now, and that`s pretty bad," he said.
"It`s not something I think about too much, but at the same time, I`m going to really be pulling on Jack and Donald tomorrow (Saturday).
"It would be pretty nice to sock it to all you guys (media), if we have three guys in the round of 16. It`s doable, too. I think they have obviously very tough matches, but very winnable matches, as well.
"It would be nice to have three of us in the round of 16. I`ll be cheering hard for those guys."
Isner, was frank enough to admit that he had been fortunate to defeat Robredo, saying that the veteran Spaniard had been the better player for much of the match.
His big service game, however, had saved him once again as he made it eight tie-breaks in the 11 sets he has played so far, winning six of them.
But he knows he will have to play better in two days time against Berdych if he is to become the first American male to reach the quarter-finals in Paris since Andre Agassi in 2003.
"You know, it`s very mentally taxing out there. It`s obviously very physical, too," he said.
"But the more tired I got out there the better I started to play. That actually happens a lot with me, because I don`t have as much energy so I just kind of have to go for it. I don`t want to run around side to side.
"So a fifth set out there, I don`t know. I don`t know if that would have been too good for me."
"I still think I can definitely play better, and I`m going to have to. I think what I`m doing right now, I don`t know that it`s sustainable right now, to be honest.
"I have to get better, simple as that."