Let Andy Murray's first major title defense begin.
It doesn't seem that long ago that the 26-year-old Brit was celebrating his first major triumph in New York, but here we are a year later with the 133rd installment of the famous tournament already set to begin.
I suppose time flies when you have such a whirlwind of a season: six different champions at three majors, a wild, upset-filled Wimbledon, constant movement in the rankings and a slew of memorable moments.
Further reminding us that the last major of the year is quickly sneaking up on us, the seeds for the U.S. Open were revealed on Tuesday.
Players to Watch
Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Seed
If you consider Rafael Nadal's hard-court history at the majors, you might not think of him as a favorite in New York. He has won "only" twice at Australia and in New York, and his win percentages at those two majors are lower than at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Throw in the fact that Novak Djokovic and Murray have dominated hard-court majors as of late, and you might pass over Rafa.
That would be a mistake.
After a disappointing showing at Wimbledon, Nadal has skyrocketed back to No. 2 in the world, winning the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open. He beat Djokovic in Montreal, while Murray crumbled in the earlier rounds.
The U.S. Open is clearly a different beast, but as long as the Spaniard continues his recent form, he has to be considered the favorite.
Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Seed
Sloane Stephens is seemingly made for majors.
Just consider this stat from Sports Illustrated's Bryan Armen Graham back after the young American was upset at the Citi Open:
She has gone on to win a few more matches since, so her record at non-majors is slightly better, but the point still remains the same: She brings her A-game when it matters most.
The 20-year-old has made it to the third round in New York two years in a row, but now that she is seeded there for the first time, expectations will be higher. If anyone can topple Serena Williams or the top-ranked women's players, it will be Stephens, who has an impressive blend of movement and power.
John Isner, No. 13 Seed
On the men's side, the semifinal will likely be comprised of some combination of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer.
But if you're looking for someone outside the top 10 to crack the final four, look no further than John Isner.
The American is coming in with loads of momentum after making the final in Cincinnati thanks to wins over Milos Raonic, Djokovic and del Potro, and he has always been at his best in New York, making his only major quarterfinal in 2011.
Isner is an interesting name to watch on a loaded men's side looking to capture the final major of the season.
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