Sunday 24 September 2017 / 06:00 AM

US OPEN: BIG-NAME ABSENTEES SET UP FASCINATING FORTNIGHT

The fourth and final grand slam of the year begins tomorrow but there will be a host of top ranked players missing in action.

World number two Andy Murray is the latest player to withdraw from the US Open after failing to recover from a hip injury, which hindered his Wimbledon campaign.

“I did pretty much everything I could to get myself ready here,” Murray said.

“I took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon, spoke to a lot of hip specialists, tried resting, rehabbing to get myself ready here and was practising okay the last few days.

“But it’s too sore for me to win the tournament and ultimately that’s what I was here to try and do, so unfortunately I won’t be playing this year.”

Five of the top 11 ranked men will be absent from Flushing Meadows, including last year’s champion Stan Wawrinka and runner-up Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic announced last month that he would miss the remainder of the 2017 season to recover from the elbow injury that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon. Wawrinka is also ruled out for the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery on his left knee.

Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori will miss the US Open because of wrist injuries.

Newly acclaimed world No.1 Rafael Nadal, who returned to the pinnacle of the rankings for the fourth time last week, will lead the men’s charge in New York.

He kicks off his campaign against Dusan Lajovic. But the top quarter of the draw also features Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, David Goffin, Gael Monfils, Grigor Dimitrov and the fiery Fabio Fognini.

Roger Federer is officially seeded third but he’ll be the second-highest ranked player in the draw thanks to Murray’s absence. Federer has won both grand slams he has contested this year, with victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon; he did not play at the French Open. Federer begins his campaign for an historic 20th major against American Frances Tiafoe.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios also lingers in Federer’s section of the draw. Kyrgios will meet compatriot John Millman in the first round and he could be on track to face Federer as early as the fourth round. The 22-year-old is looking to advance beyond the third round of the US Open for the first time. He carries some momentum into this week after his emphatic run to his first Masters final at Cincinnati. Kyrgios enjoyed a run of upsets over Goffin, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ivo Karlovic, Nadal and David Ferrer, before ultimately succumbing to Dimitrov in the final.

Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem are also placed in that same second quarter of the draw, making it a very loaded and dangerous quarter.

Rising young gun Alexander Zverev is the top-ranked player in the third quarter, which is full of big servers, including Kevin Anderson, Sam Querrey, John Isner and Jack Sock. The third quarter also features Australians Bernard Tomic, Jordan Thompson and John-Patrick Smith.

Marin Cilic leads the charge at the bottom of the draw, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ferrer joining him in the fourth quarter.

The women’s draw also has some gaps, with top-ranked stars Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka set to miss the US Open. Williams is  pregnant and will miss the rest of the season, while Azarenka announced she’s set to miss the grand slam as she deals with personal issues.

But one player who is sure to generate lots of attention is Maria Sharapova, who has been given the green light to feature in action following her doping ban. In a blockbuster first-round showdown, Sharapova, who received a wildcard, will battle it out against Simona Halep.

Recently announced world No.1 Karolina Pliskova will lead the women’s action, but a staggering eight different players could potentially leave Flushing Meadows with the top ranking, depending on respective results.

Halep – who has had opportunities to claim the No.1 ranking in the past – is among the eight who have the potential to knock Pliskova off the top this fortnight. Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams all are also in with a chance.

Daria Gavrilova will lead Australia’s hopes. Gavrilova is fresh off the back of her maiden WTA triumph at the Connecticut Open and she will hope to continue that momentum at the grand slam. The world No.20 features in the second quarter of the draw, along with Angelique Kerber, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Madison Keys, Jelena Ostapenko, Elena Vesnina and Elina Svitolina.

Ashleigh Barty, Ajla Tomljanovic and Arina Rodionova round out the Aussie contingent. Sam Stosur will miss the major due to her right hand injury.

First round matches begin on Monday at 11am ET (Tuesday 1am AEST).

 

Day one schedule:

Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00am ET

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [3]

Tennys Sandgren (USA) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO) [5]

Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) vs. Venus Williams (USA) [9]

 

7:00pm ET

Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Simona Halep (ROU) [2]

Darian King (BAR) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER) [4]

 

Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00am ET

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [13] vs. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)

Not Before: 1:00pm ET

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs. John Isner (USA) [10]

Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Not Before: 5:00pm ET

Jack Sock (USA) [13] vs. Jordan Thompson (AUS)

 

Court 17 – 11:00am ET

Lauren Davis (USA) [32] vs. Sofia Kenin (USA)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [8] vs. Marius Copil (ROU)

Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) vs. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)

Jana Cepelova (SVK) vs. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [11]

 

Court 10 – 11:00am ET

Kyle Edmund (GBR) vs. Robin Haase (NED) [32]

Claire Liu (USA) vs. Ying-Ying Duan (CHN)

Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. Gilles Muller (LUX) [19]

Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs. Oceane Dodin (FRA)

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Alyssia Varricchio

Alyssia Varricchio is a sports reporter, journalist and producer based in Melbourne.

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