Friday 23 August 2013
Wimbledon.com charts 10 things to keep an eye on as the US Open prepares to kick off at Flushing Meadows, New York, next week...
1. Is the New York tennis set soon to have what it has craved for so many years, a match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the concrete of Flushing Meadows? The Swiss and the Spaniard have played in the other three Grand Slam cities - indeed, they have contested finals in Melbourne, Paris and at Wimbledon - but never before have they met at US Open. That could be about to change with the two of them placed in the same quarter of the draw.
Still, a word of caution. Recall the chatter after the draw for this summer's Championships, and the expectation that Federer and Nadal were going to produce what some had prematurely described as the Greatest Quarter-Final of All Time. Nadal lost on his opening appearance, and Federer was beaten a round later. So Federer, ranked seventh, goes into the US Open at his lowest position in the tennis hierarchy for 11 years. Nadal, meanwhile, has had a remarkable North American hard-court swing, winning titles in Montreal and Cincinnati.
2. If Serena Williams doesn't win the US Open, would she be satisfied with her Grand Slam year? The world No.1 has won 'just' one Slam this year, the French Open title. For all the attention in recent days on Maria Sharapova (the hiring and firing of Jimmy Connors, the Sugarpova name-change affair, and her withdrawal through injury) and Marion Bartoli (retirement), Serena's the one in the arc-lights now. Whether she's playing table tennis in Manhattan, filming talk shows in a leather dress, or preparing for her home Grand Slam, she will be attempting to extend her collection of major titles to 17, which would put her level with Federer.
3. Does Victoria Azarenka, who beat Williams in Cincinnati, have it in her to defeat the American on the Arthur Ashe Stadium?
4. How will Andy Murray deal with the new experience of going into a Slam as a defending champion? And will he pay a visit to the loo that transformed his life, the 'bathroom' where he gave himself a pep talk before playing the fifth set against Novak Djokovic in last year's final?
5. Murray isn't the only British tennis player who has gone up in the world. For the first time, Laura Robson will be among the 32 seeds at a major.
6. Going into the tournament, Nadal is best placed to end the season as the world No.1, which is an astonishing achievement, given that he missed January's Australian Open, only returning in February after a seven-month absence. And that he lost in the first round of The Championships. There is added interest in the rankings at this tournament, with the ATP World Tour holding celebrations in New York City to mark 40 years of having an official rankings system.
7. John McEnroe is among those who contends that if one of Nadal, Murray or Djokovic win the US Open, he would be regarded as the best player of 2013 (regardless of whether the ranking computer agrees or not).
8. At least America has one player in the men's top 20, after John Isner moved up eight places to No.14, but this could be a rough Slam for the American men.
9. Martina Hingis will be playing the first Grand Slam tournament of her comeback, with the 32-year-old Swiss Miss partnering Daniela Hantuchova in the doubles tournament (Hingis has said that she has no intention of making a singles comeback).
10. Expect sales of manuka honey and liquorice tea to rise in New York if Djokovic, who has published a nutritional book, wins the title.
Keep track of all the action from Flushing Meadows with daily reports on Wimbledon.com and see USOpen.org for live scores, draws and video
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