8 Players to Watch in New York at the U.S. Open

Benjamin J. BlockCorrespondent IIAugust 21, 2012

8 Players to Watch in New York at the U.S. Open

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    As the summer is coming to an end, it can only mean one thing, and it's not the sights and sounds of kids going back to school kicking and screaming.  

    The final Major of the four Grand Slams is just around the corner as the U.S. Open officially gets underway August 27.

    Normally, Rafael Nadal headlines a list of must-see players to watch, but on Wednesday August 15, he announced that he's pulling out of this years' US Open due to knee tendinitis.

    Despite Nadal's absence, there is still a lot of players for fans to be excited about.

    As you make your way around the stadium courts and the outside courts, there are eight players that you have to make sure you see.  

Player to Watch: Roger Federer

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    If you get a chance, go check out this guy Roger Federer play, maybe you heard of him?

    It usually goes without saying that Roger Federer is a player to watch, but with Rafael Nadal not playing in the US Open this year, Federer's path to the Final just got a little easier.

    After regaining the No. 1 ranking in the World with his Wimbledon Championship earlier this year, Federer appears to be back to his tactician ways again.

    In the last warm-up tournament before the US Open, he sent a very strong message to the tennis world as he steamrolled over Djokovic in Sunday's final at the Cincinnati Open.

Another Must Watch Player: Andy Murray

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    Andy Murray's devastating loss to Roger Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final is still fresh, but his beat-down of Federer in the Olympic gold-medal match, is even fresher.

    Murray showed incredible resilience overcoming his loss at Wimbledon to win gold. I would look for him to make a very strong push at the years' final Major in New York.

    With Nadal out, the only players in Murray's way to a major championship is Djokovic and Federer. 

Pay Attention to Juan Martin Del Potro

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    Juan Martin Del Potro stunned the tennis world at the US Open in 2009 when he won the championship over Federer. In 2010, he needed wrist surgery and wasn't a threat in men's tennis.

    It's been a long three years since he won the US Open, but Del Potro has returned to relevancy and has shown that he is capable of playing as he did in 2009.

    He is someone to pay close attention to. 

Wild Card to Keep an Eye On: Ryan Harrison

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    So far, Ryan Harrison has displayed the determination and tenacity that you would expect from a 20-year-old on the rise.

    With that said, his desire to win has overshadowed tangible results.

    This kid has a very heavy serve, a lethal forehand and an excellent backhand. If he puts it all together, he could make a deep run and possibly emerge as the next American male that this country is salivating for. 

Must Watch Player: Petra Kvitova

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    Petra Kvitova is a powerful player and a dangerous force to be reckoned with.

    She is coming off her first tournament win of 2012, as she took home the Roger's Cup in Montreal last week. Her victory showed strong signs that she is ready for the US Open later this month. 

    Despite her well chronicled struggles with her asthma, her excellent play in Montreal should give her the confidence she needs going into the final Major of the year.

Dangerous Woman to Watch: Maria Sharapova

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    Maria Sharapova is always a big attraction, and with good reason—she's still very good.

    She's already won the French Open this year, and you can never count her out of contention when a Major is on the line.

    She is always capable of going on a run and as long as her big serve is going, the women's field should watch out.

Be Careful of Samantha Stosur

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    Australian great, Samantha Stosur, is the defending US Open Champion and she's looking to repeat in 2012.

    She can cause serious havoc in any tournament, she is incredibly strong, a big shot-maker and can challenge any woman on the tour.

    Despite dropping a spot in the rankings as she makes her way to New York, look for Stosur to be around in the second week of the final Major. 

Wild Card Woman: Sloane Stevens

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    Sloane Stephens isn't yet a household name, but the 19-year-old is looking change that.

    Although she hasn't won any singles titles yet, she has climbed her way inside the Top 50 in the world, and she had a respectable US Open last year, as she lost in the third round to Ana Ivanovic. 

    Her singles record is only 24-19 this season, but she made it to the fourth round of the 2012 French Open, gaining a lot of good Grand Slam experience.

    She's going to want to prove to New Yorkers that last year wasn't a fluke—look for her to make it past the first week of the years' final Major.

    She's a dangerous opponent and could be America's next female tennis star—you never know.