US Open 2019: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal among five men's contenders
Last Updated: 26/08/19 1:22pm
The US Open begins with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and company all vying to win the final Grand Slam of the year.
Here, we pick out five top players to watch at Flushing Meadows...
The defending champion and hot favorite in the men's draw, Djokovic is back at the top of his game after his epic Wimbledon final win over Roger Federer. He now has 16 Grand Slam titles, two behind Rafael Nadal and four short of Federer. The Serb's functional game will never win him the admirers of Federer, but his numbers are stacking up and he is the man to beat over the next fortnight as he looks to claim his third major of an incredible 2019.
The usual suspects will provide Djokovic's biggest challenges but Federer's preparations were hit by his quickest defeat in 16 years last week in Cincinnati, a shock 6-3 6-4 third-round loss to Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev in just 62 minutes. The last rites have been read on Federer's career before, of course, but we might now be entering 'enjoy him while he's still here' territory. The Swiss great is a five-time winner at Flushing Meadows but his last title here came in 2008.
The champion as recently as 2017, but question marks will always remain over the condition of Nadal's knees and whether he can last two weeks on the hard courts. If the Spaniard can stay injury-free, and there is no reason why he can't, then he will undoubtedly carry his traditional threat - and having pulled out of Cincinnati after winning in Montreal he should at least be fully rested.
The world No 4 and supposedly the next cab off the rank, at 25 Thiem needs to break the big three's stranglehold sooner rather than later. A quarter-finalist last year, the Austrian with the most exquisite backhand in the game should have every chance to at least fill the fourth semi-final berth. He is in the bottom half of the draw and could meet British No 1 Kyle Edmund en route to the final four where he might potentially face Nadal.
Whether it's nice Nick, who goes to the pub the night before matches, plays tweeners for fun and jokes with spectators, or nasty Nick, who only last week cost himself the best part of £100,000 for five separate acts of unsportsmanlike conduct in Cincinnati, volatile Australian Kyrgios remains a box office act. The 24-year-old showed his true potential by winning in Washington earlier this month, and if he can translate that kind of form into the final Grand Slam of the year, then who knows what he can be capable of.
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