The final Grand Slam of the tennis season is nearly here, and the men's and women's draws for the 2014 U.S. Open were officially announced on Thursday.
With defending champion Rafael Nadal out of the field due to a wrist injury, the men's draw opened up for some of the top players. Roger Federer, who hasn't won a Grand Slam since 2012, is now just behind world No. 1 Novak Djokovic as the favorite, per Oddsshark.com.
On the women's side, Serena Williams is still searching for her first major win of the 2014 season. Williams comes in as the No. 1 seed, but No. 2 Simona Halep has been hot and is still in search of the first Grand Slam victory of her career.
Before the start of the 2014 U.S. Open, here's a look at the seeding and bracket for the men's and women's side of the event.
|17||Roberto Bautista Agut|
|15||Carla Suarez Navarro|
|30||Barbora Zahlavova Strycova|
Breakdown of Draws
As with any sporting event, no matter the importance, there are always winners and losers. During Thursday's draw for the U.S. Open, the results were no different.
The biggest loser of the draw was none other than Andy Murray. After winning the 2013 Wimbledon Championship, the British player has struggled this season and didn't receive a favorable draw for the final major tournament.
Kheredine Idessane of BBC notes the difficult matchups for Murray:
Wow. @andy_murray US Open draw could hardly be tougher. Haase first then poss: Stepanek, Verdasco, Tsonga, Djokovic, Wawrinka , Federer !— BBCKheredine (@BBCKheredine) August 21, 2014
While he is the No. 8 seed and wouldn't have to face off with Djokovic until the quarterfinals if they both make it that far, it's clearly not an easy path.
Murray may have been stung by the draw, but No. 2 seed Federer has a slightly more favorable road to the finals. He could see a slight hiccup against emerging star and seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters, but his odds look good for another late run.
Tennis.com points out the draw for Federer ahead of the final Grand Slam:
Federer could face Dimitrov in QFs, Berdych or Ferrer in SFs. Overall, though, belated birthday gift from the USTA.— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) August 21, 2014
Another interesting player to watch in the U.S. Open will be John Isner, who recently won the Atlanta Tennis Championships. With the American earning a No. 13 seed, he is in the same draw as Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka and Milos Raonic.
If he can start off strong, Isner might stand a chance against Djokovic, who has struggled recently after winning the 2014 Wimbledon title. Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times points out why Isner might not make it to the fourth round to face Djokovic:
John Isner lost to Kohlschreiber in third round in 2012, again in 2013. John Isner could play Kohlschreiber in third round in 2014. #USOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 21, 2014
On the women's side, the tennis world will be watching Williams. After withdrawing from the doubles tournament at Wimbledon due to illness, Williams needs a win at the U.S. Open to secure one major this season.
After a recent victory at the Western & Southern Open, Williams appears to be back on track. And as Christopher Clarey of The New York Times notes, she starts off with an intriguing match:
Back on duty and twitter. Following US Open draw: Serena vs Taylor Townsend in 1st round a fun way to start— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 21, 2014
Which No. 1 seed has a better chance to win the U.S. Open?
Both sides of the draw provide plenty of punch. The depth of the men's side leaves it wide open. Meanwhile, if Williams returns to her prior form as the world No. 1, this might be the Grand Slam that gets her back on track.
Federer will be one of the biggest storylines as he looks to secure his 18th Grand Slam. But with Nadal out of the running, could a young player like Dimitrov or Raonic finally secure the first major win of their careers?
When the action finally starts on Aug. 25, expect plenty of reasons to watch this year's U.S. Open. As both Williams and Federer look to add to their huge collections, the 2014 tournament has a chance to be a memorable one.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.