Already underway, the U.S. Open Series offers ATP and WTA Tour players a host of incentives and opportunities.
The series includes a collection of summer hard-court tournaments in North America. Players accumulate points during the series that leads to the U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam of the year.
Winners of the series stand to gain a $1 million bonus if they also win the U.S. Open. Last year, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal won the series and the U.S. Open. They each won a record-setting $3.6 million in prize money.
Money may be the biggest incentive, but playing well in the series has intrinsic value. More than anything, the series serves as tuneup and test for top players hoping to arrive at Flushing Meadows in optimal form.
Two key players, Li Na and Rafael Nadal—both ranked No. 2—are out of the running due to injuries. Li withdrew from the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Open and U.S. Open. She will fall from No. 2 to No. 3.
Nadal announced he will miss the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati Open. He has yet to rule out defending his U.S. Open title.
Roger Federer, who reached the 2014 Wimbledon final, has little to gain or lose during the series. Federer is securely in the Top Five and has no shot at No. 1 or No. 2 before the U.S. Open. Any tournament win or finals appearance could be considered a successful series for Federer.
Whether fighting for better seeding or seeking confidence, some players need a strong showing more than others.