By Howard Fendrich AP
There is no question that the most talked-about topic heading into the U.S. Open is Serena Williams’ Grand Slam bid. Even if she does dominate the conversation, a certain “Big Four” of men’s tennis will provide plenty to discuss, too, as usual.
No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, for example, has been nearly as dominant as Williams in 2015. He won the Australian Open, was the runner-up at the French Open, then won Wimbledon, part of a 56-5 season that includes six titles and 10 consecutive appearances in tournament finals.
Given his excellence on hard courts, it’s hard to believe he’s earned the trophy only once at Flushing Meadows.
Five-time U.S. Open winner Roger Federer is 34, hasn’t won a Grand Slam championship in more than three years — and yet the No. 2-seeded Swiss star might just be as much of a threat as anyone to be in Arthur Ashe Stadium on the second Sunday. He made it all the way to the final at Wimbledon before losing to Djokovic, then beat the Serb for the hard-court Cincinnati Masters title this month.
“Still not very happy with my form and with my game,” Djokovic said after that loss to Federer, “but I have a week to work on it.”
No. 3 Andy Murray also defeated Djokovic in a hard-court final in August, at Montreal, and has made it to two semifinals and one final at this year’s majors. Like Djokovic and Federer, he is a past U.S. Open champion.
Rafael Nadal is worth keeping an eye on for the simple reason that no one quite knows how well he’ll play. He hardly has performed up to the standards that earned 14 Grand Slam titles, including two at the U.S. Open, and is seeded only No. 8. Nadal faces what could be a truly tough test in his opening match against 18-year-old Borna Coric. Get past that, then win three more matches, and Nadal could face Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Here are other things to watch at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday in New York: