It's hard to believe, but we are just days away from the final Grand Slam of 2013 kicking off. And if this most recent draw is any indication, the Slam season might have saved the best for last.
On the men's side, we have a chance for a Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meeting in the quarters again. All eyes will be on those two long-time elites to live up to their end of the bargain this time.
Last year's finalists, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, could meet in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, on the women's side, the biggest news is that Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the tournament. That moves Agnieszka Radwanksa up to the No. 3 spot and last year's semifinalist Sara Errani up to the all-important No. 4 spot.
Following is a complete breakdown of the 2013 draw.
Novak Djokovic (No. 1)
Djokovic's draw is not a complete breeze—he could meet Grigor Dimitrov (No. 25) in the third round and Juan Martin del Potro (No. 6) in the quarterfinals, both of whom have defeated him in Masters 1000s this year. However, the top-ranked Serbian will have a big edge over those guys in a major.
The 2011 champion avoided most of the unseeded land mines, which should allow him to work himself nicely deep into the tournament. If he makes it through to the semifinals, he could face Andy Murray.
Andy Murray (No. 3)
Speaking of Murray, the defending champion has to be happy that he ended up on the opposite side of the draw from Rafael Nadal, against whom he has had bad luck in majors.
The erratic Tomas Berdych (No. 5) is his potential quarterfinal opponent, while the slumping Andreas Seppi (No. 20) and Nicolas Almagro (No. 15) are his toughest tests before the final eight. No major road blocks there.
David Ferrer (No. 4)
After a phenomenal start to 2013, Ferrer has been slumping this summer. However, the most under-the-radar No. 4 seed ever has a great draw, if he's up to the challenge. Richard Gasquet (No. 8) is the highest seed he could face until the semifinals, where he'd be slated to play Nadal (that's when the good draw would end).
Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
Nadal worked hard this summer to get back to the No. 2 ranking, but his draw doesn't necessarily show it. His quarter is incredibly difficult. He could meet Nikolay Davydenko—one of the few players to have a winning head-to-head over him—in the third round, John Isner (No. 13) in the fourth round, and then Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
Roger Federer (No. 7)
Being seeded at No. 7 was always going to make things more difficult for the Swiss star, but getting drawn in Nadal's quarter is particularly brutal. The good news is there aren't many big threats on the road to the quarterfinal.
Juan Martin del Potro (No. 6)
With a questionable wrist headed into these championships, the 2009 U.S. Open champion is already facing a tough road to the title. But his task got tougher when the draw came out. Del Potro could get Lleyton Hewitt in the second round, Tommy Haas (No. 12) in the fourth round and then Djokovic in the quarters. Not an easy task.
Serena Williams (No. 1)
OK, so pretty much every draw is easy on paper for Serena, but this one is really straight-forward. She does face former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem for the world No. 1. Then she could get some Australian Open revenge on Sloane Stephens (No. 15) in the fourth round.
The defending champion could face Angelique Kerber (No. 8) in the quarterfinals and Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 3) in the semifinals.
As usual, Serena's the biggest threat to herself before the finals.
Victoria Azarenka (No. 2)
On the other half of the draw, Azarenka has it pretty easy, too. She could face Ana Ivanovic (No. 13) in the fourth round and then she'd have a possibly tricky quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova (No. 7) or Sam Stosur (No. 11).
Sara Errani (No. 4) is her slated semifinal opponent.
Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 3)
The pride of Poland got to move up a spot in the seedings with Maria Sharapova's withdrawal from the tournament, but that certainly didn't help her draw.
She could get her Wimbledon conquerer Sabine Lisicki (No. 16) in the fourth round and her Australian Open conquerer Li Na (No. 5) in the quarterfinals. And if she makes it that far? Well, then she gets Serena in the semis.
Petra Kvitova (No. 7)
With Sharapova out, it's hard to pick a fourth favorite, but Kvitova is dangerous on any surface.
However, the 2011 Wimbledon champion has a tough road in New York. She could have to get through Andrea Petkovic and Mona Barthel (No. 28) just to make the fourth round, where she'd face Stosur (No. 11).
If she makes it that far, she could face Azarenka in the quarterfinals. Ouch.
The draw gods certainly did not smile favorably on the hometown men this U.S. Open. Everyone has challenges.
John Isner (No. 13)
Isner had a resurgent summer, winning the BB&T Atlanta Open and making the finals of the Citi Open in D.C. and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. He wisely decided not to defend his title at the Winston-Salem Open this week to rest up for the U.S. Open.
His draw is tough, though. He could get Gael Monfils in the second round, Philipp Kohlschreiber (No. 22) in the third round, and Nadal in the fourth. He's going to need his best form—and perhaps some help along the way—to make it through.
Sam Querrey (No. 26)
Querrey has an easy first two rounds but then could get Federer thereafter in the third. While Federer is ripe for the upsetting these days, Querrey's slumping form doesn't suggest that he's capable of it.
Ryan Harrison got the short end of the stick, drawing Nadal in the first round. Brian Baker, the ultimate comeback kid, gets Hewitt to start things off and, if he survives, del Potro in the second. Meanwhile, former top American and top-10 competitor Mardy Fish withdrew from the tournament Wednesday, citing health and personal issues.
It's been a great year for the younger American women and they will hope to continue moving forward here in New York.
Unfortunately, most of the top Americans (including Serena) are huddled in one section.
Sloane Stephens (No. 15)
Stephens has had success at all of the majors this year, but the spotlight is going to be the brightest at the U.S. Open. She could face fellow American Jamie Hampton (No. 23) in the third round, then Serena in the fourth round. She'll need an Australia-sized miracle to make the quarterfinals.
It's been two years since Venus announced her Sjogren's diagnosis at the 2011 U.S. Open, and while the road hasn't gotten any easier, she has kept trucking along. The 2000 and 2001 champion gets Kirsten Flipkens (No. 12) in the opening round. If she gets through the first few matches, she's in Serena's quarter, but it it would be a surprise if she made it that far.
The promising 18-year-old, who has struggled with shoulder problems this summer, faces Jelena Jankovic (No. 9) in the first round. Considering Jankovic's good form this summer, that's a tough match.
Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 9) vs. Radek Stepanek
Tommy Haas (No. 12) vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Mikhail Youzhny (No. 21) vs. Nicolas Mahut
Brian Baker vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Serena Williams (No. 1) vs. Francesca Schiavone
Kirsten Flipkens (No. 12) vs. Venus Williams
Jelena Jankovic (No. 9) vs. Madison Keys
Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 27) vs. Mallory Burdette
Jerzy Janowicz (No. 14) and Ernests Gulbis (No. 30) are both in a wonderful section of the draw: the quarter that belongs to David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet.
Both Janowicz, the Wimbledon semifinalist with power to spare, and Gulbis, the unpredictable-but-dangerous Latvian, could have a major U.S. Open breakthrough if they stay focused.
Meanwhile, the weakest quarter for the women is the one with Sara Errani (No. 4) and Caroline Wozniacki (No. 6).
Other players in that quarter, especially Maria Kirilenko (No. 14), Simona Halep (No. 21) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 27), have a great shot at deep contention if they find their form.
Novak Djokovic (No. 1) vs. Juan Martin del Potro (No. 6)
Andy Murray (No. 3) vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 9)
Richard Gasquet (No. 8) vs. Jerzy Janowicz (No. 14)
Roger Federer (No. 7) vs. Rafael Nadal (No. 2)
Djokovic vs. Murray
Gasquet vs. Nadal
Murray vs. Nadal
Serena Williams (No. 1) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (No. 12)
Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 3) vs. Jelena Jankovic (No. 9)
Caroline Wozniacki (No. 6) vs. Simona Halep (No. 21)
Petra Kvitova (No. 7) vs. Victoria Azarenka (No. 2)
Williams vs. Radwanska
Wozniacki vs. Azarenka
Williams vs. Azarenka