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“It’s always good to have a tough match, I think, or a tougher match,” Williams said. “The kind of a match where you have to challenge yourself against your opponent and the conditions and everything and just continue to stay tough and to stay positive.”

Querrey’s next match will come against No. 25 Stanislas Wawrinka, who pulled off a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 upset against No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain. Murray knows all about what it’s like to play for a country that desperately wants a winner. No British man has won a Grand Slam tournament since 1936. This was Murray’s second straight early exit from the U.S. Open, and his latest loss will surely get picked apart back home.

“I have no idea of whether I’ll win a Grand Slam or not,” Murray said. “I want to. But if I never win one, then what? If I give 100 percent, try my best, physically work as hard as I can, practice as much as I can, then that’s all I can do.”

Same goes for Querrey.

With Isner gone (He played 22 fewer games in the entire tournament than he did in his historic 70-68 fifth set at Wimbledon) and No. 9 Andy Roddick eliminated earlier in the week, Querrey and Fish will help shape opinion on whether the arrow is pointing up or down at the highest reaches of American tennis.

They still have time to be remembered as role models for a new generation of American stars. Or they could continue a trend that began this summer when Roddick briefly dropped to No. 11 and, for the first time since the rankings began in 1973, there wasn’t a single American in the top 10.

“I mean, you always hear that,” Querrey said. “It’s kind of like any sport. You’ve got waves where you’ll have a group of Americans in the top 10; you might have a couple years where we don’t. It’s like with the Lakers: They’ll win some championships, and (then) they won’t make the playoffs. It’s just like that.”

These are not the kind of issues they worry about in Spain these days.

Sparked by No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s surge to the top, Spain is turning into a tennis factory of sorts. Nadal, who cruised to a straight-set victory over Gilles Simon, was one of five Spaniards to win third-round matches Sunday. Add No. 21 Albert Montanes, who won Saturday, and the country has six members in the round of 16 _ tying the record for any country other than the United States at the U.S. Open.

“It’s always nice to see all the Spanish winning and being in the last rounds, no?” said No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, who eliminated 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.