Novak Djokovic entered the 2014 U.S. Open this week as the top seed and reigning Wimbledon champion. And with the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal and Djokovic's recent success over Roger Federer, there is little reason to believe Djokovic will not win his second U.S. Open title.
In today’s world of men’s tennis, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal rule the roost. Few other players have found a way past these three in recent years at major tournaments. And with only two of them in Flushing Meadows this month, all signs point to Djokovic coming away victorious.
Djokovic has seen a lot of success on hard court in his career with four Australian Open wins and a U.S. Open title on his resume. He lost in the U.S. Open final to Nadal last year and in 2012 to Murray after he won the tournament in 2011.
And not much stands between him and another appearance in the final this year.
Federer and Stan Wawrinka, who won this year’s Australian Open, are seeded No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, and on the other side of the bracket. Djokovic can only potentially see one of them, and it would occur in the semifinals or final.
His first major opposition does not come until the fourth round when he can possibly play American John Isner.
From there, Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga come into play. Tsonga poses the largest threat with a recent win over Djokovic, but it was the first time in his last 10 tries that the frenchman defeated Djokovic.
The same can be said for Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. It was only the third time in Wawrinka’s career that he earned a win over the top-ranked player and the first since 2006.
Federer is certainly the main threat to Djokovic, but even he hasn’t seen his best results against Djokovic, who has won four of their last six meetings. One of Federer’s wins against Djokovic this year came on clay, which is not Djokovic’s forte.
Federer could also face a tougher road on the way to the final, which could mean longer matches and less energy in the final. Djokovic isn’t likely to see many five-set matches before the semifinals and should have fresh legs come crunch time no matter whom he’s playing.
And as long as Djokovic continues his solid play across the board and against familiar opponents, he’ll be a U.S. Open champion for a second time.