Momentum can change hands in an instant in tennis, so when you have it you want to hang onto it.
No player in tennis has more momentum heading into the season's final Grand Slam event than Rafael Nadal, who has won 10 straight matches, including ATP Masters 1000 titles in Montreal and Cincinnati since his upset loss at Wimbledon two months ago.
Now, Rafa enters Flushing Meadows as the world No. 2 and with a flawless 15-0 record on hard courts in 2013. But the 2010 U.S. Open champion isn't the only hot player to watch for this year.
Below we'll highlight a trio of other 2013 U.S. Open contenders who are trending up at the ideal time.
Roger Federer's decline has benefited Czech star Tomas Berdych, who has climbed all the way to No. 5 in the ATP world rankings.
The 27-year-old earned the best finish of his career at the U.S. Open a year ago, reaching the semifinals after upsetting Federer in the quarters. Prior to that run, Berdych hadn't been past the round of 16 in New York.
Even more encouraging for the 2010 Wimbledon finalist is the fact that he's looked stellar at times during the North American hard-court season, most recently reaching the semifinals in Cincinnati, where he knocked off defending U.S. Open champion Andy Murray in the quarters.
If Berdych can build off that victory by beating Murray again (they are in the same quarter of the men's draw) in New York, he'll find himself back in the semifinals.
Denmark's favorite female tennis star and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is up to No. 8 in the WTA rankings following some strong showings on the hard courts this summer. Even better, she has a favorable draw at the 2013 U.S. Open, per SI's Beyond the Baseline on Twitter:
Wozniacki went out in the second round at Wimbledon back in June but looked refreshed in Cincinnati, where she reached the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open. She would lose to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka but had plenty of bright moments to feel good about.
She pushed Azarenka in the second-set tiebreak and toppled former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in three sets in the previous round.
Keep in mind the only Grand Slam final Wozniacki has even played in was at the U.S. Open in 2009, when she fell to Kim Clijsters in straight sets. She's 20-6 at Flushing Meadows since 2007 and had reached the semifinals there in three straight trips prior to last year's stunning first-round exit.
Juan Martin del Potro
Less than two months removed from his incredible run to the semifinals at Wimbledon, Juan Martin del Potro heads to New York—where he won his first and only Grand Slam in 2009—with tons of momentum.
After taking a few weeks off to rest following Wimbledon, Delpo returned to action on the hard courts in Washington, D.C., dropping just one set en route to winning the Citi Open. Following a third-round exit at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, the 6'6" Argentine bounced back in Cincinnati, where he reached the semifinals before falling to John Isner (another contender trending in the right direction this summer) in an epic three-setter.
Now up to No. 6 in the world, the former U.S. Open champion looks poised to make yet another deep run in Flushing Meadows this summer.
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