US Open preview: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic target milestones as Murray eyes matches
With the US Open draw made, tennis top stars are gearing up for what should be a fascinating fortnight of action at Flushing Meadows.
The final Grand Slam of the year tends to throw up more shocks than any other major and has often provided the platform for superstars of tomorrow to spring off.
That said, the main focus remains on the golden oldies for the time being and the Big Four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are set to all compete at the same event for the first time since Wimbledon 2017.
Here we take a look at what lies ahead in New York…
Big Four return with different agendas
Its been a long time since four of the greatest players in history have gathered together at the same event, but they will all step out onto the court over the next two weeks.
All have their own goals and targets, with Murrays vastly different from his rivals.
The Scot will play at a Grand Slam for the first time in over a year, having played just seven matches since an 11-month layoff with a hip issue.
Its fanciful to expect him to get beyond the third round in truth, particularly given the fact hes yet to play a best-of-five sets match.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic no doubt harbour greater ambitions.
The 37-year-old Swiss is looking to end a 10-year wait for a title in Flushing Meadows and he can become the first man in the Open Era to win the US Open six times should he go all the way.
In the other half of the draw, Nadal – who has never met Federer in this tournament – is looking to defend a hard court Grand Slam title for the first time in his career.
Djokovic, meanwhile, can equal Pete Sampras 14-strong major haul, become the joint third-most successful male in history.
What happened last year?
With Murray, Djokovic and defending champion Stan Wawrinka absent due to injury, Nadal stormed to a third title.
The Spaniard defeated South Africas Kevin Anderson in the final in what was a routine victory for the top seed.
Nadal was denied a first meeting with Federer – who had struggled with a back injury in the build-up to the tournament – in New York by Juan Martin del Potro, who stunned the Swiss in the quarter-finals.
The tournament also saw the emergence of two exciting Next Gen stars, with Denis Shapovalov defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his way to the last-16 and Russias Andrey Rublev going one further and reaching the quarter-finals before falling to Nadal.
Whats happened in the US hard court summer?
Its been an intriguing summer of hard court action.
John Isner, Alexander Zverev and Fabio Fognini – who defeated Juan Martin del Potro in Los Cabos – picked up the early titles, before Nadal and Djokovic stormed to Masters 1000 success.
Pre-US Open hard court titles
Atlanta – John Isner
Washington – Alexander Zverev
Los Cabos – Fabio Fognini
Toronto – Nadal
Cincinnati – Djokovic
Winston Salem – Medvedev
In Toronto, talented 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas wowed crowds on his way to the final and became the youngest player to beat four top-10 players in the same tournament before falling to Nadal in the final.
While the Greeks achievements were impressive, it was nothing compared to the remarkable feat attained by Djokovic in Cincinnati.
By defeating Federer in the final, Djokovic became the first man to win all nine Masters 1000 titles.
Daniil Medvedev picked up the last available title in Winston Salem, defeating Steve Johnson in the final.
Hows the draw panned out?
The major headline of the draw was the placement of sixth seed Djokovic in Federers quarter, which means the pair could meet in the quarter-finals.
There was more bad news for the Swiss world No. 2, with the ever dangerous Nick Kyrgios lurking as a potential round three opponent.
Murray will be happy enough with his first round draw against Australias James Duckworth, though he is due to meet Del Potro in the third round.
US Open seeds (ATP)
1. Rafael Nadal, Spain
2. Roger Federer, Switzerland
3. Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina
4. Alexander Zverev, Germany
5. Kevin Anderson, South Africa
6. Novak Djokovic, Serbia
7. Marin Cilic, Croatia
8. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
9. Dominic Thiem, Austria
10. David Goffin, Belgium
11. John Isner, United States
12. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain
13. Diego Schwartzman, Argentina
14. Fabio Fognini, Italy
15. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greece
16. Kyle Edmund, Great Britain
17. Lucas Pouille, France
18. Jack Sock, United States
19. Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain
20. Borna Coric, Croatia
21. Kei Nishikori, Japan
22. Marco Cecchinato, Italy
23. Hyeon Chung, South Korea
24. Damir Dzumhur, Bosnia and Herzegovina
25. Milos Raonic, Canada
26. Richard Gasquet, France
27. Karen Khachanov, Russia
28. Denis Shapovalov, Canada
29. Adrian Mannarino, France
30. Nick Kyrgios, Australia
31. Fernando Verdasco, Spain
32. Filip Krajinovic, Serbia
Nadal is in the same half as Del Potro and Murray and is due to meet British No. 1 Kyle Edmund in the last-16.
In the remaining quarter, Zverev and Marin Cilic are the big names looking to join the winner of Federer and Djokovics quarter in the semi-finals.
Whos the favourite?
Wimbledon champion Djokovic is viewed as the man to beat, narrowly edging Nadal in the favourites chart and Federer out in third.
Murray is way out at 40/1 to go all the way, with Zverev, Del Potro, Kyrgios, Anderson and Cilic all rated more likely winners.
British No. 1 Edmund is not given much hope out at 150/1.
US Open men's odds (Betfair)
12/5 – Djokovic
11/4 – Nadal
6/1 – Federer
10/1 – Zverev
12/1 – Del Potro
20/1 – Cilic
33/1 – Kyrgios
33/1 – Anderson
40/1 – Wawrinka
40/1 – Murray
50/1 – Dimitrov
50/1 – Thiem
50/1 – Raonic
50/1 – Tsitsipas
50/1 – Isner
150/1 – Edmund
It will come as little surprise to learn that Im torn between Nadal and Djokovic winning this title.
Both seem in terrific form and appear a cut above the rest of the ATP Tour at the moment, although this event has thrown up plenty of shocks in the past.
Djokovic is being viewed as the favourite in most quarters but I still view Nadal as the main man to beat.
The Spaniards draw looks very manageable and he has all the weapons to go the distance.