The eyes of the tennis world turn to Gotham City for the final Grand Slam of 2014. The 2014 U.S. Open kicks off play Monday with some of the biggest names in the tournament.
Rafael Nadal won't be able to defend his crown after pulling out of the tournament with a wrist injury. That opens the door for somebody new to topple the established order, but don't be surprised if you see a men's final involving some combination of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
On the women's side, Serena Williams will be heavily favored to repeat as champion. She looked great in the Western & Southern Open a few weeks ago, beating Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
Although Day 1 of the tournament won't be the most dramatic in Flushing, New York, it's always great to see wall-to-wall tennis to start a new week.
|11 a.m. ET|
|Danielle Rose Collins vs. Simona Halep (2)||-|
|Kimiko Date-Krumm vs. Venus Williams (19)||Not Before 1 p.m. ET|
|Stan Wawrinka (3) vs. Jiri Vesely||-|
|7 p.m. ET|
|Maria Sharapova (5) vs. Maria Kirilenko||-|
|Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Diego Schwartzman||-|
|11 a.m. ET|
|Sharon Fichman vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (4)||-|
|Robin Haase vs. Andy Murray (8)||-|
|Sloane Stephens (21) vs. Annika Beck||-|
|Taro Daniel vs. Milos Raonic (5)||Not Before 5 p.m. ET|
|11 a.m. ET|
|Angelique Kerber (6) vs. Ksenia Pervak||-|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) vs. Juan Monaco||-|
|Blaz Kavcic vs. Donald Young||-|
|Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Caroline Wozniacki (10)||-|
Note: You can view the entire Day 1 schedule at the U.S. Open's official website.
Andy Murray Will Cruise Against Robin Haase
Admittedly, this isn't exactly a bold prediction. Murray is seeded eighth for the tournament and won the U.S. Open in 2012. Of course he's going to win.
However, Murray has recently run into problems closing out sets. His last ATP Tour match was the quarterfinal against Federer in Cincinnati, Ohio, in which he watched a 4-1 second-set lead evaporate as Federer won the match 6-3, 7-5, per The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell:
Today I was very, very up and down. It’s been like that most of the year. It’s fine to have periods like that when you’re young and first coming on the tour, but one or two games max, really, when you let your level drop a little bit. Then you need to be able to find it again; I didn’t do that.
He noted that it's a problem deeper than just that one match.
"I messed up a couple of matches this year, to be honest," Murray said, per The Independent's Paul Newman. "My year could have been a lot different if I finished those matches off. I need to stop messing up when I’m ahead."
The earlier Murray can dispel this notion, the better for his hopes of winning the U.S. Open. Aside from losing, the worst thing he can do against Haase is jump on the Dutchman early before tailing off and limping to a win. Opponents will smell blood in the water. They'll recognize that Murray has had problems finishing the job.
Murray and Haase have met three times before, most recently at the 2013 Australian Open. The two had a five-setter in the second round of the 2011 U.S. Open, with Murray dropping the first two before storming back and winning the last three.
The two-time major winner should have an easier time in their fourth meeting.
Every Marquee American Will Advance
An American man hasn't won the U.S. Open in over a decade, and it doesn't look like the drought will end in 2014. John Isner enters as the highest-seeded American in the men's half (13th). Fans will have to wait until Tuesday to see him in action, though.
Donald Young is the most noteworthy American playing in the men's bracket Monday. He's got what will likely be a tough match with Blaz Kavcic. Young should be smarting from his third-round loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Winston-Salem last week.
The women's half is a little more promising for U.S. fans, with Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens taking the court.
Williams has had a bit of a roller-coaster 2014, but she was handed a gift of a first-round draw. Her opponent, Kimiko Date-Krumm, is nearly a decade her senior, per ESPN Tennis:
34yo Venus Williams to play soon-to-be 44yo Kimiko Date-Krumm.— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) August 21, 2014
The two-time U.S. Open champion should at the very least advance to the second round, where she's lost in each of the last three years.
Stephens hasn't quite recaptured the same kind of magic she had at the 2013 Aussie Open, where she made it to the semifinal. Susie Arth of espnW.com thinks that the 21-year-old has about as good a draw as she could've asked for:
Just when she needed it most, the slumping Sloane Stephens caught a break with her Open draw. The No. 21 seed faces Annika Beck, a German ranked 57th in the world, in the first round. After that, Stephens would be favored against either Virginie Razzano or Johanna Larsson in Round 2. From there, it could be Jelena Jankovic, whom she has lost to twice this year. But Stephens has a history of bringing out her best at majors, so a Round of 16 matchup against Angelique Kerber isn't out of the question, right?
Might this be the year that Stephens establishes herself in Flushing Meadows?