New York: Nine years after Andy Roddick won the US Open only a few days after his 21st birthday, American tennis fans are enduring an unprecedented wait for the next US men's singles Grand Slam champion.
The 2012 US Open begins on Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the hallways are filled with photographs of such US legends as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Ashe himself.
But US men have gone a record 35 Grand Slams in a row without a singles title and are not among the favorites in this Flushing Meadows fortnight.
"The USA is a huge country, one of the most influential countries in the world, and I'm sure that tennis tradition is something that is nurtured over the years," said defending US Open champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
"I'm sure that the new wave of success in men's tennis for United States is coming because it's just impossible not to expect to not have any success from a system like this."
With the US Tennis Association raking in huge profits from the US Open each year and investing money into growing American talent, Djokovic sees no way the investment can fail to pay off, eventually.
"USTA invests a lot in the young talents. I'm sure they are coming up," said Djokovic. "It's normal to have ups and downs in life."
Ninth-seeded John Isner is the highest-rated American and coming off ATP title defenses at Newport and Winston-Salem in the past two months.
Isner's only Grand Slam quarter-final came last year at the US Open, when the lanky, hard-serving stand-out fell to Great Britain's Andy Murray.
But this year, Isner, 27, is in a quarter of the draw that lacks world number one Roger Federer, reigning Olympic champion Murray, and Djokovic.
Isner's top-ranked obstacles to the semi-finals are Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer and Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic.
"He comes from the college system, which I still think can produce tennis players," McEnroe said. "Please John -- American tennis, semis, please."
Other US seeds in the men's draw include Roddick, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey, but there are no other Americans in the top 60 in the ATP world rankings.
Even so, reigning Olympic champion Murray does not discount the current US entrants.
"Pretty much all of the American players are very dangerous because of their game style," Murray said.
"Mardy and Andy are two of the older ones with experience and they have big serves. When they play well they can be very tough to play against. Isner, he just won in Winston-Salem. Querrey was in the semis. He had a very good summer.
"Those guys have big games. If they can string it together for a few matches then they can get themselves deep in the event. Then anything can happen."
But Grand Slam titles have been mostly passed around among three players in recent years.
Swiss legend Federer has become a 17-time Grand Slam winner, Spain's Rafael Nadal has won 11 Slam crowns but is absent with knee trouble, and Djokovic has captured five, including four of the past seven.
"I think it's great people know who they will most likely see in the final rounds," Federer said. "It has been incredible to see the top four guys for so long now."