Grand slam tennis makes its return to American shores with the U.S. Open next week. However, only the American women will notice as the men might be better-served staying home.
The big stage of a major is generally reserved for the brightest stars, and 2012 will prove to be no different. There might be an upset or two along the path, yet that won't stop the last people standing from being some of the most well-known in the sport.
You still have a few days to figure out your plans as the tournament doesn't officially begin until August 27. In the meantime, entertain yourself with some prognostications sure to come true.
Roger Federer Will Be in the Finals
Someone should remind Roger Federer that he isn't 22 anymore. Actually, he's just as close to 40 as he is to 22, yet that hasn't stopped Federer from putting together an incredible stretch of tennis. Over the past couple months, he won Wimbledon (when are they going to rename it after him?), lost in the gold-medal match at the Olympics and handled business in a Cincinnati tune-up tournament.
Don't expect Federer to act his age. Expect him to make the finals, unless he draws Murray in the semifinals because...
Andy Murray Will Continue His Breakthrough
Perhaps the most moving sight of the 2012 Olympics was seeing Andy Murray finally shake off the chains and slay his personal dragon on the very court that had devastated him weeks earlier. Murray took gold-medal match to Federer, who wasn't quite right 48 hours after an exhausting semifinal victory.
The confidence of finally breaking through a championship barrier is a powerful intoxicant for any athlete. Murray's confidence will match his game as he takes the final monkey off his back and wins his first major.
Serena Williams Will Continue Her March to the No. 1 Ranking
The Williams sisters have been astounding the tennis world with their athleticism and strength for years.
At 30 years of age, Serena seems more focused than ever. She undoubtedly understands that her time to stake her claim as the most dominant female tennis player—of either gender for that matter—is starting to run short. The concentration she demonstrated at Wimbledon and the Olympics should serve as notice to the rest of the field: Serena means business.
An American Man Will Not Make it to the Second Week
The state of American men's tennis is not a fresh concern. The days of hoping for a breakthrough from Andy Roddick or James Blake are long gone. John Isner lacks the consistency necessary to navigate a major tournament. Mardy Fish has shown some spunk lately, taking a few matches before losing in two sets to Roger Federer (although on a tiebreaker). Plus, his name is certainly something we can all get behind.
The Americans will continue to be irrelevant in their home country's major.
The Absence of Rafael Nadal Will Kill Ratings
If there is one thing Americans enjoy, it's watching the best do something. This isn't a new theory; Bill Simmons has been discussing this for years (he usually refers to how well-received the World Cup is received while the MLS flounders). Nadal will not be competing this year due to a knee injury that isn't new. His nagging injuries have caused Greg Garber to ponder if this is the end of Nadal as we know him.
Missing Nadal won't just hurt viewership among Americans, it will put a dent in the female demographic across the globe.