US Open: How the men’s top 10 stacks up ahead of the final Slam
Many say that tennis is a sport dominated by two or three players. Tell that to 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic who was available to back at 100/1 pre-tournament.
In fairness, the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are always going to be the three to beat, but in these Grand Slams the pressure will be on the so-called big guns.
So how are the best players on the planet shaping up ahead of their exertions at Flushing Meadows?
We take a look at the top 10 in the world with the final Grand Slam tournament of the year just days away from the First Round proper.
Reaching the final of his last 10 tournaments will be as close to a perfect prep that the Serb could have hoped for. But with defeat in three of his last four, he will be hopeful of finding that cutting edge in the tournament he last won in 2011.
Djokovic’s conqueror in Cincinnati last week, Federer has been enjoying a mini revival on court, taking the Western and Southern Open without so much as dropping a set. With a final appearance on his last three hard court outings he could go well again.
Having ended his eight-match losing streak against world number one Djokovic en route to success in the Montreal Masters, Andy Murray will be coming into the US Open confident he can see off the big boys again. How much will a straight sets defeat against Federer take out of the 2012 champ though?
Before last year the Japanese player hadn’t progressed further than the last 16 at Flushing Meadows. But a spot in the final meant he was catapulted to the big time. He has defeated the likes of Rafa Nadal, John Isner and Marin Cilic this month and could be a lively outsider.
The French Open champ has had a rather average journey from Paris to New York, seeing off more than three opponents just once in his four tournaments entered. The documented war of words with Nick Kyrgrios and a heavy defeat to Novak Djokovic last week won’t have helped preparations.
The last eight will be the minimum target for the Czech player, having reached at least the quarter finals in eight of his last nine tournaments played on a hard court. Whether he has an outside chance remains dubious though, reaching the semis just three times in his last 20 Grand Slam outings.
Not seen since withdrawing from Wimbledon through injury the former world number three would be a shock winner. On a court that is far from his favourite, the Spaniard has exited the competition at the hands of a supposed underdog in each of the last two years, and could be in for a short stay.
If rekindling the form of two years ago that saw Rafa Nadal reach five straight hard court finals, the Spaniard would undoubtedly be in with a chance of a third tournament success. However, an early exit in Cincinnati and a limp defeat to Kei Nishikori in Montreal this month doesn’t bode well.
The defending champ has stuttered since becoming a shock winner of the tournament last year, reaching just one final. The 6ft 6in Serb has been hindered by a shoulder injury at times in 2015, so comes with a note of caution for anyone backing him for consecutive titles in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The big serving Canadian desperately needs the presence of a Grand Slam to spark an upturn in form He has exited in the first three rounds in his last three tournaments and hasn’t played in a final since January. He will also want earlier nights in New York this year – his 2014 tie with Kei Nishikori went on until 2:26am.
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