New York City will be the stage of the world's finest tennis over the next two weeks as the top players of the ATP World Tour embark on a quest to claim the final Grand Slam of the year. Many of the top players are coming into the US Open in fine form, and with all of the exciting storylines heading into the tournament, it could make for the most exciting Grand Slam of the year.
Will it be the 31-year-old Roger Federer to capitalize on his current form and extend his record Grand Slam total to 18? Or will No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic successfully defend his US Open title after failing to defend his Wimbledon title? Will No. 3 seed Andy Murray build upon his Olympic triumph and finally lift his first Grand Slam trophy? Or will someone else finally break up the stronghold that the Big Four has had on all of tennis' major honors?
Here is a preview of the top contenders at this year's US Open.
No. 1 Roger Federer
World No. 1 Roger Federer has done well over the past year to reclaim his throne at the top of the men's game. It took over two years, but Federer has finally added a 17th Grand Slam trophy to his collection after downing Andy Murray in last month's Wimbledon final. The Swiss Maestro may have failed to take home the gold medal in London, but he quickly recovered and added another Masters title to his collection in Cincinnati. Judging by recent form, don't be too surprised if Federer takes a sixth US Open trophy home.
Why he'll win: Federer has played incredible tennis over the last 12 months. He has won this title five times before and knows what it takes to win at Flushing Meadows. Federer has come very close to winning his sixth title in New York in his last three attempts—a final and two semifinal appearances. After recently rediscovering the feeling of Grand Slam glory, Federer will be hungry for more.
Why he won't win: It's hard to imagine Federer losing in the early rounds, but there are a few players that could get the best of Federer in the later rounds. The toughest matchup in his quarter looks like Czech Tomas Berdych, who has been in dismal form as of late.
Olympic Gold Medal winner Andy Murray will be confident now that he is back on his favorite surface and stands in Federer's way of the final. If a semifinal match between these two ensues, Federer will surely have memories of his Olympic defeat on his mind. Novak Djokovic is the favorite to be the finalist of the other half and has an impressive record over Federer over the last two years.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic
Serb Novak Djokovic has had a disappointing summer—He was unable to complete the Djoker Slam, surrendered his Wimbledon title and No. 1 ranking and failed to make an appearance on the medal stand at the Olympics. Regardless, Djokovic is always a favorite to win any tournament, especially on hard courts.
Why he'll win: Djokovic plays impenetrable defense that appears even more formidable on hard courts. Djokovic is the defending champion here and would love to redeem himself after a less than spectacular summer. With the absence of World No. 3 Rafael Nadal, Djokovic will not have to play any member of the Big Four until the final.
Why he won't win: Djokovic rolled over against Federer the last time they met, losing the first set 6-0. He recently won a Masters tournament in Toronto, but the field in which he played was incapable of giving him much trouble. Djokovic hasn't looked too confident in the big matches, and that's a reason for concern for the defending champion. Double faulting on match point just isn't the kind of quality that will cut it at a Grand Slam.
No. 3 Andy Murray
Andy Murray looks closer to winning a Grand Slam more than ever. He came close at Wimbledon—until the roof closed. Weeks later, he dominated Federer in the Olympic Gold Medal Match. Murray has said before that the US Open is the Slam he wants to win the most, having won the Junior title in New York in 2004, and he looks set to make a serious bid this year.
Why he'll win: Murray will not be short on confidence having proven to himself and the world that he can defeat the top players after his victory in London. Even better for the Brit, hard courts are his favorite surface. Murray's excellent defensive skills will become even more of a factor than it was at the All-England Club last month.
Why he won't win: While Murray looked good during his time at the All-England Club this year, he has struggled with composure in the past. If the Murray of old resurfaces, he will not be leaving New York with his first Grand Slam trophy. Murray also suffered somewhat of an Olympic hangover after leaving London—a knee injury forced him to withdraw from the Rogers Cup and he was bounced in the third round in Cincinnati after a very unconvincing performance.
No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is one of the few players capable of troubling the Big Four. Most famously, Tsonga came back from two sets down to defeat Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year. He was also a finalist at the Australian Open in 2008.
Why he'll win: Tsonga plays a brand of tennis that enables him to beat just about anyone. Victories over Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Grand Slam tournaments prove that he is more than capable. He has been to a Grand Slam final before and knows how much it takes to get there. Now he just needs that extra push to win.
Why he won't win: Tsonga has had a bad record against the top guys this year. His failure to convert match points against Djokovic in front of a home crowd at the French Open this year shows that he lacks the composure in the big matches.
No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro
Argentine Juan Martin del Potro was the champion in New York in 2009 after upsetting five-time champion Roger Federer in five sets. Following that triumph, del Potro looked as if he was going to make a serious challenge for the No. 1 ranking. Unfortunately for him, a wrist injury that required surgery put his career on hold. After winning the bronze medal in London, del Potro will have some momentum heading into the US Open.
Why he'll win: del Potro is one of the very few active players that have tasted Grand Slam success. He knows how to win this tournament, and after showing signs of good form recently, maybe he can win it again.
Why he won't win: del Potro has had a horrific record against the Big Four since coming back from surgery. Del Potro forfeited a two-set lead over Roger Federer at the French Open and only has one win in seven matches against the Big Four this season. If he is to win a second US Open title, he has to be in the kind of form that won him the bronze medal at the Olympics.
Who will win the US Open this year? Will it be one of the favorites or will there be a surprise winner this year? With a field full of contenders, this year's edition won't be short on excitement.
The first round of the US Open begins on Monday.