The U.S. Open is the final Grand Slam event of the 2013 season, and there is no question that the world's best players want to end the year on a high note. This isn't just a huge tournament for the players, though; it is also the ideal viewing event for tennis fans everywhere.
Although it may not measure up to Wimbledon in terms of pageantry, fans wait all year for the U.S. Open to come to pass. There's nothing quite like watching tennis under the lights, and the U.S. Open provides that atmosphere consistently. The fans absolutely love it, and the players seem to relish it as well.
The players have been preparing for the U.S. Open with a bevy of hard-court tournaments over the past several weeks, so the competition promises to be both fierce and entertaining. Here is a complete guide for when and how to watch every single second of the action in the Big Apple.
Where: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, N.Y.
When: Monday, Aug. 26 through Monday, Sept. 9
Watch: CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, Tennis Channel, CBS Sports Network
Daily TV Schedule
Top Storylines to Watch
Will "Big Four" Reign Supreme Again?
Many tennis analysts consider this to be the golden age of men's tennis, as it features four of arguably the greatest players of all time in the form of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
While there is certainly parity among the Big Four, there hasn't been much room for others to shine. In fact, the Big Four have won an incredible 33 of the past 34 Grand Slam titles, with only Juan Martin del Potro striking a blow for the field, upsetting Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final.
Nadal, Djokovic and Murray each have one Grand Slam title to their credit this year, so it will be interesting to see how things play out in New York. Each member of the Big Four won a Grand Slam last year, and Federer can make that happen again if he wins the U.S. Open. Fed has struggled mightily this season, though, and while he is technically still a member of the Big Four based on name recognition, his No. 7 ranking suggests otherwise.
Even so, Federer is still a force to be reckoned with, as are the other Big Four stalwarts.
With that said, there are some players outside the Big Four who can potentially challenge for a title. The most obvious name is del Potro since he has done it before, but he'll have his work cut out for him. Another player to consider is John Isner. No American man has won a singles Grand Slam title in a decade, since Andy Roddick took the 2003 U.S. Open, but Isner has been playing great and his excellence in tiebreaks could help spur him to some upset victories.
Can Serena Williams Bounce Back?
Most tennis fans probably agree that Serena Williams is far and away the best female tennis player on the planet, but the 2013 season hasn't exactly been a perfect one for her. Injuries hampered her early on and resulted in Sloane Stephens eliminating her in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Serena was able to round back into form, winning the French Open in convincing fashion, but she was met with major disappointment at Wimbledon when Sabine Lisicki took her out in the fourth round.
That loss seemed to fuel Williams, as she subsequently won the next two tournaments in which she competed. But she enters the U.S. Open on a sour note. Serena faced Victoria Azarenka in the Western & Southern Open last week, and while she was able to jump out to a 1-0 lead in terms of sets, Azarenka stormed back to win the title.
In addition to that deflating loss, Williams has a pretty tough draw lineup. One potential dream encounter that Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated is anticipating is a fourth-round match between Serena and Stephens:
Not only did Stephens oust Williams at the Aussie Open, but there is also some well-documented bad blood between them, stemming from an interview Stephens did with ESPN Magazine. That makes Stephens a very dangerous opponent for Williams should they ultimately meet.
Based on how dominant Serena has looked throughout most of the season, ending up with only one Grand Slam title would be a bit of a disappointment. With that in mind, however, she will surely do everything in her power to win her second consecutive U.S. Open championship.
Bryan Brothers Go for 2013 Grand Slam
While the doubles draws don't often receive much attention during Grand Slam tournaments, there is reason to pay close attention to the men's doubles tournament at this year's U.S. Open.
Bob and Mike Bryan have been absolutely dominant this year, winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles. The Bryans already have a Grand Slam of sorts to their credit, as they won last year's U.S. Open, as well as a gold medal in the London Olympics before it, but winning the 2013 U.S. Open would allow them to reach rarefied air.
Winning the seasonal Grand Slam is something every tennis player strives for, and the Bryan brothers are one title away from accomplishing it. But even if they ultimately fall short at the U.S. Open, there is no question that they have gone on an incredible run. In fact, they've been so good this year that they already clinched the No. 1 ranking, which has never been done before at this point in the season, according to Joe Fleming of USA Today:
It's difficult to point to one or two teams that might give the Bryans trouble since there is so much fluidity in doubles play. Some of teams that are ranked just below them will obviously pose a threat, but there are some newly formed teams that could potentially spoil the party as well. Although American men's tennis has really suffered in recent years, it hasn't deterred the Bryans from dominating the doubles scene.
Even if you don't often make a point of watching doubles tennis, the Bryan brothers' drive toward history is something worth tracking.
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