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Ten storylines to follow at US Open 2014

Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows, New York.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Monday 25 August 2014

The US Open, the final Grand Slam of the year, began today. Wimbledon.com highlights 10 storylines to keep track of as the tours head to Flushing Meadows...

1. Surely Serena Williams can’t go through the entire Grand Slam year without winning one of the four prizes? Plainly, there are worse places for a female tennis player to be stuck than on seventeen Grand Slam titles, just one major below Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert on the list of serial champions. But be in no doubt that this has been an extraordinarily frustrating season for Williams, who has so far failed to even feature in a single quarter-final at the slams; she hasn’t gone deep into a major since winning last year’s US Open. There were suggestions this summer at the All England Club, after France’s Alize Cornet had beaten Williams in the third round, that chasing history has got to the Californian. Whether or not there’s any truth to that, there will be plenty for Williams to play for on the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Making that first slam quarter-final of the year, and then going all the way through the draw, would bring a third successive title at Flushing Meadows, as well as a sixth in her career, plus she would draw level with Evert and Navratilova on that all-important list. And, more than that, it would go some way to reasserting her authority in the women’s game.

2. Which of the Williams sisters will go further into the tournament? You can’t say for certain that it will be the world number one, not with Serena’s form at the Grand Slams this season, and after Venus turned in some fine performances during the North American hard-court swing, including beating her little sister in the Montreal semi-finals. If Venus plays in New York as she did against Serena in Canada, or as she did against eventual champion Petra Kvitova in the third round of this summer’s Championships, she is going to be a menace.

3. Novak Djokovic’s triumph on Wimbledon’s Centre Court was his first Grand Slam title for a year and a half, since the 2013 Australian Open – can he win a second major in the space of two months to finish as the most successful man at the slams this season? Going into New York, three different men have won slams this season, with Stan Wawrinka scoring his first career major at the Australian Open, and Rafa Nadal winning a ninth title at Roland Garros.

4. Second time around how will Petra Kvitova deal with the expectation that comes with competing at a slam as the Wimbledon champion? The last time Kvitova turned up in Queens in possession of the Venus Rosewater Dish, which was in 2011, she became the first reigning Wimbledon champion in the modern era to lose in the opening round of the US Open. The indications are that, after her second title at the All England Club, she is much more comfortable with the status of Wimbledon champion. So can Kvitova win a second Grand Slam title of the season? Or will Maria Sharapova, the French Open champion, be the one to end the year with two majors? It won’t be Li Na, the Australian Open champion, as she has withdrawn from the US Open because of a knee injury. 

5. The attacking tennis that Roger Federer played at Wimbledon, where he took Novak Djokovic to five sets in a pulsating final, will encourage his belief that he can add to his collection of seventeen Grand Slam titles. It’s six years now since Federer last won the US Open – he was the champion for five consecutive summers, from 2004-8 – and what a story it would be if he could win another.

6. It hardly seems relevant that Eugenie Bouchard’s only previous experience of competing on the Flushing Meadows cement is reaching the second round of last year’s US Open. She hadn’t exactly done much at Melbourne Park and Roland Garros before reaching the semi-finals of this season’s Australian and French Opens, and at the All England Club this summer she improved on her previous best of a third-round showing by playing in her first Wimbledon final. So Bouchard hasn’t always been at her best during this summer’s hard-court swing – she lost her opening match in Montreal – but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Canadian had another fine Grand Slam tournament. Just 20, she is more than capable of winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

7. Simona Halep, a Romanian who has climbed to number two in the world rankings, has the opportunity at the US Open to acquaint herself with the New York public. To do that, she will need to put a decent run together. She’s already played in a Grand Slam final this season – she was the runner-up to Maria Sharapova in Paris.

8. It’s more than a year now since Andy Murray won a tournament, with his last title coming at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships (no small victory, that). Since then, he has had an operation to his back, parted company with Ivan Lendl, and started a new working relationship with Amelie Mauresmo. Can Murray win a third Grand Slam, and a second US Open title, at Flushing Meadows?

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performances in Canada – where he defeated Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and then Roger Federer to win the title in Toronto – have raised expectations of what he can accomplish in New York. It’s been a long six and a half years since Tsonga, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the 2008 Australian Open, last appeared in a Grand Slam final.

10. Will the young bucks who impressed at Wimbledon this summer – Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic – push on in New York? All three of those players achieved career-best results at the All England Club this summer, with Kyrgios defeating Rafa Nadal on the way to a first Grand Slam quarter-final, while Dimitrov and Raonic both made the last four of a major for the first time. Can they match or better those results in New York? 

For live scores, draws and results from the US Open, visit usopen.org

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