The current state of Men’s Tennis is an interesting one.
No single player is dominating the sport. While Roger Federer has his name entrenched in “greatest ever” debates and Novak Djokovic was a French Open away from completing the 2011 Grand Slam, the power struggle at the top three is almost evenly split between Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The three have combined to win 29 of the last 30 major tournaments, the only exception being a 2009 US Open victory for Juan Martin Del Potro.
The dominance of these three players have left a number of extremely talented tennis players on the outside looking in every tournament.
Nadal pulled out of play prior to the US Open due to injury, but Federer and Djokovic remain the odds-on favorites to take the 2012 US title.
With Round Four underway in New York, a number of competitors remain who could knock Federer, Djokovic and Nadal off their collective throne for the first time since 2009.
Here are three candidates that we would love to see win the US Open as underdogs.
As mentioned in the introduction, Del Potro is the only man outside the Big Three to win a major tournament since 2005.
Del Potro has the potential to be a giant in the sport, both literally and figuratively, and at age 23 his rise to the premier ranks of the sport is back on track after a wrist injury derailed him following his surprising defeat of Federer at the 2009 US Open.
It is easy to forget how young Del Potro is, considering his early success and subsequent struggles, but the Argentinean has a bright future in the sport.
A second improbable US Open victory could catapult Del Potro back into the conversation in tennis circles everywhere, and could be an interesting addition to an elite class of players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray) that has not added fresh blood to the lineup in years.
At this point, not a major tournament goes by where we don’t hope that Andy Murray comes out on top.
We did get to see Murray’s victory face at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but the Scot’s inability to win a major tournament is very well-documented.
Murray is the fourth tennis player who rounds out the sport’s Big Four, but he is the only member of that club to never have actually won a major. For Murray, the unofficial title seems to be less an endorsement of his chance to win any given tournament and more a declaration that, well, he’ll probably be in the semifinals.
Murray’s personal struggles with victory are doubled by the pressure that comes with the eyes of an entire nation watching you. No British man has won a tennis major since Fred Perry won his eighth title in 1936.
A US Open title would get the nation’s drought off his back, as well as validate Murray’s impressive career in an official manner.
It would be a storybook ending, wouldn’t it?
Andy Roddick is one of the many unlucky men who played tennis in an era when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were around to dominate the sport.
Roddick’s first and only career major win came at the 2003 US Open, the first tournament after Federer won his first major at Wimbledon. Both players seemed poised to win many more majors. For Federer, this would be true.
For Roddick, Federer was just too good.
Roddick would play the remainder of his career without winning another Grand Slam tournament, watching as the Big Three captured every subsequent victory with the exception of three. 35 major tournaments decided, 32 of them won by only three players.
Roddick announced last week that he will retire at the conclusion of the US Open. For a man whose career trophy count ultimately fell short of expectations due to the era in which he played, earning a US Open victory at the twilight of his career to sit alongside the one earned at the dawn would be a truly special ending.