Roger "Fed-Ex" Federer's rise back to No. 1 in the tennis world has been nostalgic, to say the least. But you can only judge the greatest players as such when they are up against their toughest competition. Although the US Open field has some shining stars, I would be remiss to say that it reminds me of the household, tennis-titan names of years past.
The biggest scratch is Rafael Nadal. The 11-time Grand Slam champion will miss the tournament due to a knee injury. Nadal is 13-1 in the US Open over the past two seasons, and his absence will result in less excitement and skill overall for the field.
As John Wertheim of Sports Illustrated writes: "The most ridiculous stat in sports today, far as I'm concerned: since February of 2005, one of the Big Three has won 29 or 30 Majors."
Expect this major to be no different, except with Novak Djokovic and Federer ultimately drawing opposite sides on the draw and not facing each other until the Flushing Meadow final.
Federer, a 31-year old and 17-time Grand Slam champ, has benefited as of late from a less-than-healthy Nadal in his rise to the top of the rankings. After an Olympic final loss to Andy Murray, look for the Fed-Ex to deliver on cue here. Nadal often rattles the mind of the Swiss sensation, and with the mental burden lifted, he will easily hoist his 18th major trophy.
A driven Murray will undoubtedly give Federer a great match in the semifinals. But don't think Federer will let this chance slip from his grasp before a title shot against Djokovic in the final.
Federer was quoted by the AFP (via Emirates247) saying: “Even though I reached almost all my goals already this year by securing a medal, winning Wimbledon, and getting back to world No. 1, it’s important for me to push forward."
Federer has remarkably reached the quarterfinals or better at 33 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.