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US Open Tennis 2013: Outside Contenders Sure to Shine at Flushing Meadows

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 17:  John Isner celebrates his win over Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on August 17, 2013 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2013

Tennis fans can expect to hear the usual names when it comes to the discussion of 2013 U.S. Open contenders. 

The last three U.S. Open men's champions, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, are expected to battle for the crown on the men's side, while Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are seen as the two biggest threats to win from the women's draw. 

But some dark-horse contenders are sure to find their way out of the superstars' shadow.

Below we'll take a closer look at three outside contenders sure to make their presence felt this summer in Flushing Meadows.

 

John Isner

John Isner's Grand Slam history isn't very encouraging (28-21 career major record), but the top-ranked American's play on the hard courts this summer has given tennis fans reason to believe.

The 28-year-old won the Atlanta Open at the end of July, followed that up with a run to the final at the Citi Open in Washington, DC and most recently reached the final of the Cincinnati Masters, where he fell to Rafael Nadal in back-to-back tiebreaker defeats.

Isner enters the U.S. Open with a 13-3 summer hard-court record and as the No. 13 seed in the men's draw. 

He'll have to go through Rafael Nadal's quarter of the draw, but as he showed in Cincinnati last week, he's more than capable of pushing the world No. 2 to the brink. 

 

Samantha Stosur

Veteran Aussie Samantha Stosur won the U.S. Open two years ago but still finds herself flying under the radar coming into this year's tournament. 

Although the 29-year-old has dropped to No. 13 in the WTA rankings, she recently reminded the tennis world of what she's capable of at 100 percent on the hard surface. Earlier this month in Carlsbad, Stosur took out world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska and world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka en route to winning her first singles title of 2013.

Despite back-to-back lackluster runs in Toronto and Cincinnati, she still managed to win a combined four matches at those events to run her record to 9-3 since Wimbledon.

Stosur will be seeded 11th in the women's draw at the U.S. Open this summer, which means she wouldn't have to face one of women's tennis' elite stars until the quarterfinals, which she's reached in each of her past three trips to Flushing Meadows.

 

Jerzy Janowicz

Young legs and a big serve should take 6'8" Pole Jerzy Janowicz far this summer at Flushing Meadows. 

The No. 14 seed in the men's draw lucked out by winding up in David Ferrer's quarter. Ferrer is 1-2 since Wimbledon and has only been past the fourth round at the U.S. Open twice in his career. Therefore, the 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist won't have to survive Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray in order to reach the semifinals this year as ChangeOverTennis.com's Juan Jose Vallejo points out on Twitter:

Since his impressive run at the All England Club earlier this summer, Janowicz has been adjusting to the hard courts, where his powerful serve is his greatest asset.

Janowicz will have very limited experience to work with having played just one career singles match in the U.S. Open main draw. But strong performances at the year's previous three majors suggest he'll improve upon his early exit here a year ago.

 

Following Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.  

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