US Open Tennis 2013: Dangerous Players Flying Under the Radar in Queens

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US Open Tennis 2013: Dangerous Players Flying Under the Radar in Queens
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When it comes to Grand Slam tennis, the top storylines always seem to revolve around the same old names 

The Big Four routinely dominate the conversation on the men's side while the best rivalry in women's tennis, Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka has demanded the spotlight in the women's game.

But the Big Four, Williams and Azarenka aren't the only U.S. Open contenders with legitimate hopes at lifting the title this September. Whether they've done it before, possess the potential or simply have a favorable draw ahead of them, these underrated players are dangerous if nothing else.

Below we'll examine three threatening contenders who are flying under the radar in New York.

 

Tomas Berdych (5)

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Many tennis fans forget that Tomas Berdych was among the last four men remaining in the men's singles draw in New York a year ago. The Czech star knocked off five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals in 2012 to reach the third Grand Slam semifinal of his career.

Despite losing in four sets to eventual champion Andy Murray in the semis, Berdych picked up some crucial experience that he will no doubt lean upon in 2013.

The 27-year-old, who has tremendous size at 6'5" and possesses a powerful forehand, is off to a strong start at this year's U.S. Open after blasting Italian challenger Paolo Lorenzi in the first round. Berdych won in straight sets, dropping just six games in all to set the tone for the rest of the tournament. 

Berdych is also in Murray's quarter of the draw, which is good news for the world No. 5 considering he has won his last two meetings with the defending U.S. Open champion and boasts a winning record against him since they first met in 2005.

 

Caroline Wozniacki (6)

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Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has been flying under the radar through the first week at the 2013 U.S. Open thanks to some lackluster play over the past 19 months.

A U.S. Open finalist in 2009, Wozniacki reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows in three straight trips from 2009 to 2011 before losing in the first round a year ago. But she's bounced back this summer, reaching the third round without having dropped a single set. 

And although the 23-year-old Dane would have to get through two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka in order to reach the final, she wouldn't have to face world No. 1 and defending tournament champion Williams until the championship match on the final Sunday.

If Wozniacki can continue to put a high percentage of first serves in play and move with ease in the return game, there's no reason she can't emerge from Sara Errani's quarter and crash the semifinals in Week 2.

 

Juan Martin del Potro (6)

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Juan Martin del Potro has as many U.S. Open titles to his name as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, but you wouldn't know it by the limited amount of attention the 6'6" Argentine has received coming in.

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Del Potro beat Nadal and Federer en route to winning his first and only major tournament at Flushing Meadows in 2009. Four years later, the world No. 6 is looking to build on his solid summer form.

Delpo reached the semifinals at Wimbledon back in July, pushing Djokovic to the brink before losing an epic five-setter. He went on to win the Citi Open in Washington, DC before reaching the semifinals in Cincinnati.

Following a four-set win over Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round in Queens, Delpo is scheduled to take on Lleyton Hewitt for a spot in the third round. He's reached the third round every year he's entered the U.S. Open since 2007, boasting a 5-1 career record in the second round of the season's final Slam.

With a few more victories, Delpo could meet Djokovic in the quarterfinals. While Djokovic had the last laugh at the All England Club earlier this summer, the world No. 6 has beaten the world No. 1 on the hard court as recently as Indian Wells this past spring.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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