Williams, Querrey play the U.S. Open numbers game

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NEW YORK (AP) - Venus Williams says 30 is the new 20. Sam Querrey likes to think 20 could be No. 1.

Thirty-year-old Williams is talking about age, and No. 20 Querrey is talking about seeding, but both are talking about the same thing when it comes to the U.S. Open.

They’d like to be the ones to put America back on top at its own national championship.

“The average sports fan basically watches the Grand Slams,” Querrey said after his third-round win over No. 14 Nicolas Almagro on Sunday. “If you don’t have a guy in the finals or winning one of those, in tennis, you really don’t get a lot of recognition.”

Querrey and 19th-seeded Mardy Fish, who plays No. 3 Novak Djokovic on Monday, are still long shots _ but the only two remaining hopes for the United States to break a seven-year drought without a men’s champion.

Another candidate, No. 18 John Isner, lost 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 6-4 Sunday night despite hitting 33 aces against No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

“I’m really sorry, but you still have a lot of USA players,” Youzhny told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, which was squarely in Isner’s corner.

In Monday’s first match in Ashe Stadium, Dominika Cibulkova upset No. 11 Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (4) to advance to the quarterfinals. The match started less than 10 hours after the end of No. 5 Sam Stosur’s 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2) win over No. 12 Elena Dementieva _ a contest that ended at 1:35 a.m. Monday, the latest finish for a women’s match in U.S. Open history.

Next up for Stosur is a match against No. 2 Kim Clijsters, who wrapped up her 6-2, 6-1 win over Ana Ivanovic shortly after the lunch hour Sunday.

“She’s got a 14-hour head start on me,” Stosur said. “She played first and I played last, so there’s not much bigger difference than that.”

Williams, meanwhile, is a two-time U.S. Open champion and the only American left in the women’s draw. She defeated No. 16 Shahar Peer 7-6 (3), 6-3. With a quarterfinal matchup looming against another 30-year-old player, Francesca Schiavone, Venus found herself fielding questions about how “old” is too old in women’s tennis.

“Seems like everybody is hitting their stride at 30. It’s the new 20,” Williams joked. “But I’m hoping that my experience will help me, just like it did today.”

Practically everything about Williams‘ win over Peer spoke of a player with years of experience in pulling things together when she’s not at her best.

On a windy, tougher-than-expected day against an opponent she’s now played six times without dropping a set, Williams got only 48 percent of her first serves in. She faced six break points and lost three. She squandered five chances to wrap up the first set in a 22-point 12th game.

She looked to still be rounding into form after missing most of August with an injury to her left kneecap.

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