The 2013 U.S. Open is officially upon us, as countless players have punched their ticket into the second round. With surprising upsets and expected victories mixing together, we're now presented with a new trajectory for this storied tournament.
The question is, which unseeded players are in position to shock the world and make a deep run?
Unseeded players have experienced success in 2013, as the most unpredictable season in recent memory has opened the door for surprise stars to shine. Thus far, Jeremy Chardy, Lukasz Kubot and Fernando Verdasco have reached the quarterfinals of a major championship as unseeded players.
Multiple players are in position to make a similar run at the 2013 U.S. Open.
We've been without a Top 10 upset, but that doesn't discredit the wide-open nature of this year's field. Certain players are rising stars with a favorable draw, while others have benefited from losses and injuries early in the tournament.
One way or another, unseeded players are in position to go deep into the 2013 U.S. Open.
Gael Monfils, France
ATP Rank: 39
Best U.S. Open Result: Quarterfinals (2010)
Three years ago, Gael Monfils made a memorable run to the quarterfinals of the 2010 U.S. Open. Over the past month, he has flashed that form once again, reaching the semifinals of the Croatia Open and the finals of the Winston-Salem Open.
At the U.S. Open, an upset of No. 13 John Isner is far from out of the question.
Isner has been playing magnificent tennis of his own, but he's only reached the quarterfinals in one of his 21 Grand Slam appearances. This isn't to say that Isner can't go farther, but a second-round loss to a red-hot opponent is plausible.
Monfils is the type of athlete who could give Isner trouble.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, Isner and Monfils have split six matches when playing head to head. All of those clashes have come on hard courts, with Monfils winning the past two.
It won't get any easier, but when Monfils is on his game, he's one of the best in the world. Over the past month, he's been firing on all cylinders and has the look of a dark-horse contender.
If he can defeat Isner, anything is possible for the Frenchman.
Jack Sock, USA
ATP Rank: 86
Best U.S. Open Result: Third round (2012)
Jack Sock has been praised as the next great American tennis player in the past, facilitating that hype by reaching the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open. One year later, he began his follow-up performance with a 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 5-2 win over Philipp Petzschner after the German retired mid-match.
Up next is Maximo Gonzalez and the opportunity to continue building upon his success in 2012.
Gonzalez made life easier for Sock by eliminating No. 14 Jerzy Janowicz with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 first-round upset. Gonzalez is more than capable of making a run, but he's never been past the second round of the U.S. Open.
When could be better than now for Sock to break through and inspire hope for American tennis?
He lost in four sets during the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open, dropping two tiebreaks to Nicolas Almagro. There's a legitimate possibility that Sock loses to Gonzalez, but momentum is not easily built, and Sock has heaps of it from his 2012 performance at the age of 19.
The unpredictable Janko Tipsarevic and No. 4 David Ferrer could be on the horizon if Sock advances past Gonzalez, meaning the field is on upset alert.
Bernard Tomic, Australia
ATP Rank: 52
Best U.S. Open Result: Second round (2011, 2012, 2013)
Bernard Tomic is commonly referred to as one of the true rising stars in men's professional tennis. He's a 6'5" 20-year-old with wins against stars and the all-around game to be elite.
Assuming he has anything left in his legs, he could be this year's pleasant surprise.
During the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open, he survived a scare against Albert Ramos, winning 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 in a five-set, four-hour thriller. Up next, the 20-year-old is set to face 22-year-old Daniel Evans of Great Britain in the second round.
Evans upset No. 11 Kei Nishikori, presenting the opportunity for Tomic to defeat a more favorable opponent and make a deep run. If Tomic can defeat Evans, he'd be in line for potential matches against No. 19 Tommy Robredo and, in the fourth round, No. 7 Roger Federer.
Neither of those opponents is going to be easy to defeat, and there's a strong possibility that Evans will show his victory over Nishikori was not a fluke. With that being said, defeating Evans would help Tomic over the second-round hump and open the door for him to make his long-awaited leap to the elite level.
It won't be a cakewalk, but Tomic is a 6'5" powerhouse in position for a deep run.