With the 2012 US Open about to get underway next week, it is important to analyze the potential roadblocks that exist or don't exist in the main players' sections of the draw.
Rafael Nadal will not participate in the event, which brings a potential new opportunity for David Ferrer (whose draw is actually much tougher than he'd like it to be).
Let's take a closer look at the full bracket to determine how far certain players will go.
Roger Federer's draw isn't the toughest among the "Big Four" (wherein David Ferrer will replace Rafael Nadal), but it certainly is not on cruise control.
Players who could give him a stern test prior to the quarterfinals are Fernando Verdasco, Mardy Fish, Ivo Karlovic and Gilles Simon, who certainly has the patient and consistent game to perturb the Swiss.
Assuming he reaches the quarterfinals, he could meet Nicolas Almagro, Sam Querrey, Florian Mayer or Tomas Berdych, who is the only true test in a major.
There is almost no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing the top seed in the semifinals, but stay tuned for my next prediction.
The oft-unlucky Scot will be the man with the toughest portion of the draw to face.
Thomaz Bellucci, Robin Haase and Feliciano Lopez could take sets off the world No. 3 player, but it is highly unlikely that Andy Murray will be in danger (unless Haase puts together another thrilling combination of shots).
The fourth round, though, is where it starts to get tricky. Milos Raonic could be awaiting Murray and would love nothing more than to put his name on the map for good in a big tournament.
And if that wasn't scary enough, Murray could also face Jeremy Chardy, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals. All of the athletes listed, with the exception of Nishikori, have beaten Andy recently.
Do not expect Andy to make the semis, and if he does, he would likely face his nemesis—Darth Federer.
This scrappy Spaniard is going to have to "scrap" through a ton of matches if he wants to achieve a decent result.
John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov, Michael Llodra, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Brian Baker are potential quarterfinal opponents. Clearly, there are the most dark horses lurking in this section.
Oh, and he has to face the tall-standing Kevin Anderson in his opener. Let's just say this won't be easy for Ferrer, but he is definitely a fighter and can still prevail from his efforts.
Jerzy Janowicz, Olivier Rochus and Julien Benneteau are not likely going to be threats to Novak Djokovic in the early goings.
However, his fourth round could very well send him on his way out. Alexandr Dolgopolov, Stanislas Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis are all formidable opponents who could help escort Novak out of Flushing Meadows.
The quarterfinal possibilities are endless—Juan Monaco, Bernard Tomic, Andy Roddick, Andreas Seppi, Ryan Harrison, David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro are among the top contenders.
And what a tough break that is for the Argentines, who have to face off in the first round.
Look for a Djokovic-Federer final as suspected, but a dark horse could threaten these two in the semifinals for sure.
Here is my ATP US Open draw prediction for those who want to see how my picks laid out.
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