| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

American tennis lives on at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, as Andy Roddick, John Isner and Serena Williams have all taken steps closer to the 2011 U.S. Open championship. The American trio will play their upcoming matches over the course of today, leading into this weekend's semifinals and quarterfinals, and New York Tennis Magazine caught up with each as they moved down the path to potential U.S. Open glory.

Andy Roddick will face a tough test on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium as he faces the number two seed, Rafael Nadal of Spain in the men's quarterfinals. Coming to this point, Roddick has defeated David Ferrer, Julien Benneteau, and fellow Americans Jack Sock and Michael Russell.

The 24 hours starting when you guys had to go out for a few minutes on Wednesday morning; people seemed unhappy about that. Is this as strange a 24-hour period you've seen in in tennis?
Probably, but I think I'm used to it. I think I played five Grand Slam finals, and I've had to play on the Saturday four times. The 2009 Wimbledon final was actually the first time I ever had a day off in between. I've always kind of responded well to playing like that ... I don't know. For some reason I was kind of mellow during the whole thing, which is completely against my makeup.

You come into the Open and you hadn't had that much play. This might have been the biggest one of the year, and now you have a chance to play Rafa. Talk about your game and how excited you are to have that chance.
I mean, I didn't know what to expect. I knew that I was playing a little bit better in Winston Salem. I knew it was huge to get four matches there. I didn't play at all from Wimbledon until 10 days before the start of the U.S. Open, so I was definitely short on matches. It's tough to get confidence by winning matches when you're not playing any. I just needed to get some continuity and play a little bit, and this match against Ferrer was probably the best match I've played this year.

Tell us about facing Rafa now.
Well, it's tough. I'm going to have to play pretty aggressively now, similar to what I did today. He's one of the greatest ever, so I'm going to have to, have a repeat at least.



 

American John Isner also has advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament. He has defeated Gilles Simon, fellow Americans Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Robby Ginepri, and Marcos Baghdatis to advance to play Andy Murray of Great Britain in the quarters on Friday.

Would you call your win over Gilles Simon the biggest win of your career?
It's certainly one of them. I never made a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, so it's definitely up there. It feels good to get that one, you know, done with and over with.

How do you feel like you're playing? You're on a bit of a run here.
I'm playing well. I felt like I played fairly well today. I was happy. I won a match, and my serve was broken five or six times or something and that's pretty encouraging.

The other day, Mardy Fish said he thinks you could take the tournament. Any thoughts on that?
No, that's very nice of him but, you know, I've still got three more to go. There are so many good players left at this event. That would be nice. I do think I'm capable of it? Obviously. I shouldn't take the court on Friday if I don't. So it's nice to be able to be this far, because you get closer to that ultimate goal.



 

The number 28 seed on the women's side, Serena Williams, has easily advanced to the semifinals where she will play the number-one seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. Williams has not dropped a single set this tournament where she has defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Michaella Krajicek and Bojana Jovanovski en route to the semifinals this year.

With the anniversary of 9/11 coming up, can you talk about your memories of that day, and where you were at the time when that happened 10 years ago?
I think everyone that lives in America has been affected by 9/11. I was in D.C. at the time, and I just remember seeing a lot of Army trucks. It's hard to believe it's 10 years later, but it's good we are kind of coming together and New Yorkers have been so strong.

What have the last few days been like for you? What did you do? Where did you practice? How did you kill time?
I have been pretty relaxed. I was fortunate to have the night match, so I came out when I was supposed to, and then got canceled shortly after so it wasn't too much of a burden. The day before was my day off, so I actually have had a good schedule.

How do you stay so mentally tough? Knowing you were down, and you had to turn the match around, how do you stay so mentally tough and so focused?
It's definitely something that's innate. I don't think you can go out and get it. I just have it.