The final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open is set to begin in less than a week in New York City. The US Open is the culmination of all the hard work the players put in during the grueling summer hard court season. On Tuesday the seeds were announced for the US Open and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were named one and two on the men’s side.
With Rafael Nadal not taking part in this year’s US Open, what players can emerge as leading contenders to take home the final Grand Slam of the year?
1) Roger Federer
Federer is having one of his better years on the ATP World Tour. At the age of 30, he has compiled six titles during the year; including his 17th Grand Singles title by winning Wimbledon for a record tying seventh time. Federer has won a title on ever surface this season, and he just became the first player in the Open Era to win five titles in Cincinnati. Federer, with his win in Cincinnati, also tied Nadal’s record of 21 ATP Masters 1000 event titles. Federer is looking sharp and is rested for one of the more grueling majors of the year. At the US Open, Federer is 61-7, and won five straight titles from 2004 to 2008. He is tied with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most US Open titles in the Open Era since 1968. Federer is looking to win the US Open for a sixth time, but he has lost in the semifinals to Djokovic in the last two years. Federer is always one of the favorites because the way he executes his game plan and his experience in Grand Slams.
2) Novak Djokovic
Djokovic enters the tournament as the defending champion, playing well firing on all cylinders. Hard courts are clearly Djokovic’s best surface; as he has won three titles this season all coming on the hard courts. Djokovic defended his title at the Rogers Cup this season and just made the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Even though Djokovic is not racking up the titles like he did last year, he is still performing at a high level. Djokovic shocked the world last year at the US Open defeating Roger Federer in an epic five set semifinal match after he was down two sets to none. He hit two big forehands to level the match after fighting off match points. Those have been the lasting images of Djokovic and his play at the US Open. Though Federer has turned the tide on Djokovic of late in semifinals and finals, Djokovic still has the confidence and belief in his game to win another major this season.
3) Andy Murray
Andy Murray is the player that has everything to gain with Rafael Nadal being out of the US Open. Murray took advantage at Wimbledon by making it all the way to final when Nadal was knocked out in the second round. Murray would take advantage of Nadal’s absence at the Olympics by winning the singles gold medal. Murray is looking to take that momentum and translate it to a win at a Grand Slam event. Murray has made four Grand Slam finals, but he lost all four of them. He has the golden opportunity to win his first major, but it will not be easy. If Murray can win the US Open and end the British drought in majors, it would be the first time in nine years that four different players each won a Grand Slam during the calendar year.
4) Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Petro won this event back in 2009 when he beat Federer in five unbelievable sets of tennis. Del Potro was getting a lesson from Federer, but turned the switch on and out played Federer to win the title. Del Potro is the only one in the last 30 Grand Slam events to win the event not named Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. Del Potro is playing well and is back to the form that brought him the title in 2009. He is finally recovered from his wrist injury that cost him the 2010 season. Del Petro won the bronze medal at the Olympics and could make an impact in a big way in the draw.
Other notables that have a chance to win the US Open on the men’s side:
- Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Tsonga has the game to win a major but it is all mental for him during the big points. He can play with the big boys in the sport but comes up short mentally when it matters the most. Jo is questioning his physically ability, but his mentality can be questioned. However, Tsonga plays his best tennis against the better opponents. Can he finally get back to a Grand Slam final like he did at the 2008 Australian Open?
- David Ferrer
Ferrer is the second best tennis from Spain behind Nadal. However, with Nadal being out of the tournament the fifth ranked Spaniard will be seeded number four at the US Open. He is making a great showing in the events on tour. His game can adapt to all the surfaces on the tour.
He is a consistent player that cannot get over the hump of the top players on tour. However, with Nadal out of the tournament is looking to reach the semifinals of the US Open for the second time and first since 2007.
The US Open organizers will announce the draw on Thursday. The tournament is scheduled to begin August 27th and finishing September 10th. You can watch all the action on ESPN2, Tennis Channel, and CBS.