Novak Djokovic has an incredible chance to repeat as U.S. Open champion this year.
While not on the great Grand Slam run that saw him capture three majors last year, at 25, Djokovic is hitting the prime of his career on a surface he clearly enjoys playing on.
Djokovic has reached seven tournament finals this season, but he has only won three. Worth noting is that three of those losses came to Rafael Nadal on clay, and Nadal is not playing in the Open due to an injury.
Where Novak shines is on these hard courts. All three of Djokovic’s wins this year came on the hard courts, including his second straight Australian Open when he defeated Nadal in the longest final in Australian Open history (five sets, almost six hours).
Projecting the draw can be a bit dangerous, but it will be at least the quarterfinals before he could run into a player that could push him into a fifth set.
Juan Martin del Potro is the seventh seed and is expected to be there, but Andy Roddick or Juan Monaco are also quarterfinal possibilities.
David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic are the highest seeds that Djokovic could face in a semifinal, but big-serving John Isner and Richard Gasquet are also in that quarter of the draw.
While Isner’s serve can blow anyone off the court, most of the higher-seeded players in this half of the draw are clay-court specialists.
Yes, the hard court is a better surface for them than the grass of Wimbledon, but Djokovic has won nearly 85 percent of his Grand Slam hard-court matches and has become a favorite of the New York crowd.
The other major advantage Novak has is that if he should reach the final, it will be just one day after a projected Federer-Murray semifinal.
Federer and Murray have had two very high-profile matches at Wimbledon this year that they split. A third match could be very draining.
Winning seven best-of-five matches in a row is incredibly difficult to do, but with Nadal’s injury and the other side of the draw being top-heavy—Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also in that top half—Djokovic’s road to getting to the final is not all that difficult.
Getting a chance at a potentially tired Federer or Murray in that final makes Djokovic the prohibitive favorite to win his second consecutive U.S Open.