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Donald Young

As Isner falters, Sock poised to take next step for US men

John Isner has long been accustomed to carrying the torch for U.S. men's tennis, dealing with the heightened expectations at the Grand Slams and the inevitable questions that follow early losses.

Isner again faltered at the Australian Open on Wednesday with a defeat in the second round, but there was a bright spot for the Americans — a win by Jack Sock, the player now poised to potentially step into his shoes as the next U.S. men's hope.

It's been an unusually optimistic start to the Australian Open for the American men, with nine advancing to the second round — the most since 2008.

Numbers dwindled Wednesday, with Noah Rubin, Ryan Harrison and Steve...