Sunday 25 February 2018 / 02:58 AM

US Open Preview

The last Grand Slam of the tennis season is just days away now, so to prepare you for what is likely to be a scintillating couple of weeks at Flushing Meadows, we thought we’d just run through the likely contenders for the coveted US Open title.

Men’s Tournament

One of the most intriguing things about men’s tennis in the 21st century is the sheer depth of talent present within the top 10. As we enter each major tournament it is close to anyone’s guess who is likely to emerge as the victory, and consequently we get to witness some frighteningly exciting games as the Grand Slam’s approach the latter stages. Despite the competitive nature of the tournament, there are no doubt a few stand out men who are very likely to be there at the business end:

Novak Djokovic

Despite being defeated by Andy Murray at SW19, Djokovic is still an exceptionally gifted player and is still comfortably world number one, despite Rafael Nadal’s late rally. Although it must be stated that the Serb has struggled so far this season, it seems highly likely that he’ll be there at the business end of this tournament.

Djokovic is not likely to have it easy though, with del Potro seeming his likely quarterfinal opponent before a possible meeting with Andy Murray in the semis.

First game: Ricardas Berankis

Rafael Nadal

If you’re looking for the form player of the ATP tour, look no further. The Spaniard has been in scintillating form all season, and despite a blip at Wimbledon, Nadal has been a match for anyone he’s played. This is showcased perfectly by the way that Nadal has stormed up the rankings after a lengthy absence, and following an impressive couple of wins in Montreal and Cincinnati, Nadal will be hoping to add to his Grand Slam collection in the Big Apple.

Nadal doesn’t typically do too well at the US, but given the form that hard hitter is in, you’d have to be a fool to write him off.

Andy Murray

The Wimbledon Champion and current US Open holder, Murray has had an incredible 18 months. Since losing in 4 sets to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final of 2012, Murray has won Olympic gold, clinched his first Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows and then returned to Wimbledon and lifted the coveted men’s title – the first Brit to do so for 77 years.

Murray has endured a frustrating run post Wimbledon, but is still very much a favourite for victory in New York.

First game: Michael Lodra

First game: Ryan Harrison

Roger Federer

Some may feel that Federer no longer deserves a place in this list, after a forgettable year where he has increasingly struggled against the world’s elite. Nevertheless, looking at the rest of the top 10, you’d fancy the Swiss maestro to defeat Ferrer, Berdych and probably del Potro; meaning that the record breaking Nike star deserves his place alongside Nadal, Murray and Djokovic.

The graceful stroke player has always got a big game in him, and if that comes out at Flushing Meadows, who knows what could happen?

First game: Grega Zemlja

Women’s Tournament

Women’s tennis was struck a significant blow only a few days ago when Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli announced an enforced retirement due to persistent injuries. No one likes to see a sports star retire, and therefore Bartoli should be wished all the best. Not only is it a shame for her that the Frenchwoman is unable to play at Flushing Meadows, but also for the spectators. Bartoli’s retirement weakens the competitiveness of the women’s tour, but hopefully there will still be a few unpredictable results in New York. Here are the contenders:

Serena Williams

Enjoying home advantage, Serena is the odds on favourite to win the tournament, as the record breakers career just goes on and on and on.

Serena is top of the world rankings but lost in Cincinnati to the Belarussian Victoria Azarenka who perhaps presents her biggest threat. Serena is supposed to be somewhat suspect on hard court at the moment, with 80% of her losses over the last year coming on the surface, but there’s no doubt that the all-American powerhouse will be up for this one. A firm favourite.

First game: Francesca Schiavone

Victoria Azarenka

The Belarussian enjoyed a fantastic win in Cincinnati, and that victory should certainly stand her in good stead as eyes turn towards Flushing Meadows.

Azarenka is one of the few players on the tour who can stand up to Serena, and she’ll be hoping that she can continue her good run of form on the hard courts of New York. The current Australian Open holder is a fantastically consistent performer, and despite having never won the US before, her win over Williams may well have given her th confidence boost she needs.

First game: Dinah Pfizenmaier

Agnieszka Radwanska

To be perfectly honest, when we’re looking at contenders we may well be scraping the barrel with Radwanska, as Williams and Azarenka are sufficiently far enough ahead of the rest of the competition to be considered the two strong favourites for the Flushing Meadows title. Nevertheless, at Bartoli showed in London, anything is possible in sport, and Radwanska will be hoping for an early Azarenka exit as she bids to reach the final.

The Pole has never beaten the Belarussian or the American, so realistically she’ll need them to be taken out of the way to have any chance. One small crumb of comfort is that Maria Sharapova has had to pull out, meaning that at least one hurdle has been removed.

First game: Sylvia Soler-Espinosa

One thing’s for sure, the tournament is going to be a blast, and hopefully our little preview has whetted your appetite for what promises to be a great couple of weeks. We’ll be covering the tournament here on Commentary Box Sports, so please feel free to check back to read all about it and let us know what you think in the comments box below the articles. Enjoy!

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