If variety is the spice of life, the 2012 Grand Slam tournaments have been mighty tasty for tennis fans.
Let's hope the U.S. Open has one last dash of intrigue.
For the first time since 1998, we could see eight different winners on the men's and women's side at Grand Slams tournaments in 2012. Of course, stars like Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will have a say in that.
Plus, this U.S. Open could signal the end of the futility American men have offered in Grand Slams since 2003.
Or it could be another bitter disappointment.
It's the last Grand Slam of the year, and a whole lot is on the line in the WTA and ATP. Let's take a look at the top storylines of this year's tournament.
Who will finish a solid year with a bang on the men's side?
Can Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic add a second Grand Slam title in 2012? Will Andy Murray build upon his first gold medal at the Olympics with his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open?
Can somebody finally end the streak of 11 straight Grand Slams won by Federer, Djokovic or Rafael Nadal?
Without Nadal around, that should be a slightly easier task. Still, it's hard to see anyone but Federer or Djokovic winning this one. With Federer and Murray slated to meet in the semifinals, Djokovic should have a clear path.
That said, Andy Murray isn't guaranteed a spot in the semis, with a draw that could include matches against Milos Raonic in the fourth round and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters. Yikes.
Will parity continue on the women's side?
Seven different women have won the last seven Grand Slams on the women's side, but Serena Williams has owned the tennis world since April.
She's won three tournaments in that time (including the singles and doubles tournament at Wimbledon), and took home two gold medals at the London Olympics as well.
Of course, the beginning of the tennis season belonged to Victoria Azarenka, who won four tournaments (including the Australian Open) from January to March. Other than a gold in mixed doubles with Max Mirnyi at the Olympics, however, Azarenka hasn't won a tournament since her scorching start.
Between Azarenka and Williams, the WTA tour belonged to Maria Sharapova. She won two of the three tournaments she played before the French Open and took home a Grand Slam title on the clay. Sharapova also made it to the gold-medal match in the Olympics, but was bested by Williams.
Will one of these three ladies put a final stamp on an excellent 2012 season? Will last year's top players—Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova—finally make their mark in 2012? Can Agnieszka Radwanska or Angelique Kerber finally make a Grand Slam breakthrough?
Andy Roddick (or any other American males), where art thou?
It's hard to believe that, despite his enormous talent, Andy Roddick has only won one Grand Slam title in his career. That was the 2003 U.S. Open.
It's even harder to believe that he hasn't advanced past the third round in any of the Grand Slams or at the Olympics this year.
However, if there was any tournament that he could still win, it's with the crowd behind him at the U.S. Open.
The power is no longer there, but if he would accept that fact and play a more strategic game, he still has enough talent to make a deep run.
Since Roddick's triumph in 2003, no American men have won a Grand Slam singles title. That's 35 Slams in a row without an American winner.
It's time to step it up, John Isner, Mardy Fish or Sam Querrey. Come of age, Ryan Harrison. Find one last run of magic, Mr. Roddick. Your country is counting on you.
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