Another eventful US Hard-court season has come down to its grand finale. With the last major of the year about to kick off at the USTA Billy Jean King Center at Flushing Meadows, New York, Sports Nova brings you a sneak peek at this year’s draw.
Novak Djokovic – The world No. 1 and 2011 champion will look to reach the championship match for a fifth straight year. He has been the most consistent performer here over the past seven editions of the tournament, beginning with his first final appearance in 2007, reaching at least the semi-finals each year. This year, however, he has had an unusually poor run-up to the tournament, suffering early exits at both Toronto and Cincinnati. In a tough draw, some of his possible opponents en route to the final are Stan Wawrinka, who lost to him in a tightly-contested semi-final encounter last year, and defeated him at Melbourne this year; Andy Murray, who beat him to the championship here in 2012; and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who demolished him less than a month back at Toronto. If Djokovic does not slip before the final, he will continue to lead the ATP Race to London.
Roger Federer – Though the five-time former champion’s performance at this tournament has progressively declined over the past five editions, culminating in a fourth-round exit at the hands of Tommy Robredo last year, he still enters the tournament as one of the favourites, owing to his impressive hard-court season so far, marked by an appearance at the Toronto final, and a title at Cincinnati. The world No. 3 has now reached the finals of the last four tournaments he has appeared in, including Wimbledon, where he lost to Djokovic in a thrilling five-setter. If the 33-year-old should bag his sixth US Open title this year, and Djokovic fails to reach the final, Federer will get ahead in the ATP Race, with prospects of a year-end No. 1 finish for the sixth time in his career.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Stan Wawrinka – The world No. 4 reached his first semi-finals here last year, losing out to Novak Djokovic in a tightly contested five-setter. But this has been the best season in his career so far, seeing him win his maiden major title at Melbourne and his maiden Masters 1000 title at Monte Carlo, and score wins over Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer. With a record of 3-0 in finals and 6-1 against the Top 10, Wawrinka is one of the serious contenders this year at the US Open.
Milos Raonic – The 23-year-old Canadian has managed to break into the Top 10 this summer, reaching No. 6 after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon. He is yet to reach the quarter-finals here, but if he manages it this year, he can cause Wawrinka a few worries.
Grigor Dimitrov – Like Raonic, Dimitrov also broke into the Top 10 after reaching the Wimbledon semi’s. One of the more stylish players on the tour, the seventh seed this year will look to set right his dismal 0-3 record at the US Open.
Kei Nishikori – Nishikori broke into the Top 10 following a fantastic clay season, winning at Barcelona and reaching the final at Madrid, before retiring due to an injury. The tenth seed may meet Raonic in the round of 16 in a re-match of their Wimbledon meeting, which Raonic won in four sets.
Dominic Thiem – The 20-year-old Austrian broke into the Top 50 this year, earning his first Top 10 scalp against Stan Wawrinka at Madrid and earning his maiden place in the Main Draw of a Grand Slam at Roland Garros this year. May pull off a few suprises.
Jiri Vesely – Made his Main Draw debut here last year, and made to the Third Round at Wimbledon two months back. The Czech makes a dangerous first-round opponent for Wawrinka.
Nick Kyrgios – The 19-year-old from Australia made the headlines with his first Top 10 victory against Nadal in the Fourth Round of Wimbledon this year. Will look to win his first match in the Main Draw here in his opener against Mikhail Youzhny.
Rafael Nadal – The defending champion will miss the US Open for the second time in three years, following a wrist-injury. After winning a record ninth title at Roland Garros this year, Nadal had yet another ordinary season on grass. Following his round-of-16 defeat to Nick Kyrgios, he has missed the entire hard-court season so far, and also pulled out from here last week.
Juan Martin del Potro – The 2009 champion has missed most of this season owing to an injured wrist. He hasn’t played a competitive match since his defeat to Somdev Devvarman at Dubai in February. Last year he was involved here in a grueling second-round battle with 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt, eventually succumbing in five sets.
Tommy Haas – The oldest player in the Top 50 will miss the US Open for only the third time in its past nineteen editions, after he pulled out of this season with a shoulder-injury. His last tournament appearance was in the First Round at Roland Garros against Jurgen Zopp, where he retired in the middle of the first set. The German veteran plans to return to the tour next season, aged 37.