The last time tennis great Roger Federer did not reach the finals of the U.S. Open was in 2003. That was the year that young American hope Andy Roddick won what was supposed to be the first of at least a handful of grand slam tournaments. Heading into this year's 2010 U.S. Open, that is still the only major Roddick has to his credit, mostly due to the greatness of Federer.
Andy Murray is another guy that has been kept out of the winner's circle more than he probably should have due to Federer. He went down to the Swiss Maestro in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open Finals, but is looking to finally break through this summer.
What's working against the Andy's stopping their drought? A deep men's field with dangerous players dispersed throughout the draw, not to mention Federer and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
What's working for them? This may be the most open men's grand slam tournament in the Federer-Nadal era (the '08 Australian Open comes to mind as another one as Nadal hadn't yet asserted his will on a hard court and Federer was limited with mononucleosis).
After reaching 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals, Federer had a subpar French Open and Wimbeldon in 2010, going out in the quarters in both. Other than winning the Australian Open, his 2010 season has been shaky at best as he lost to men he had long winning streaks against and didn't win another title until last week.
The other half of the dominant duo over the last five years or so in the grand slams, Nadal, has yet to win the U.S. Open title or even reach the finals. He has controlled much of the 2010 season and you can't put completing the career grand slam against him this year, but the fast courts in New York do not suit his game well.
Defending champion Juan Martin del Potro (who blitzed Nadal and Federer on the final weekend last year) is also something they don't have to worry about as he is out with a wrist injury. Add in the fact that hard courts are strong surfaces for both (Murray's best), there may be a third different grand slam champion not named Federer or Nadal since 2006 (Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2008, del Potro U.S. Open 2009).
As far as the draw goes, Nadal and Murray are on one side of the draw while Roddick and Federer are on the other side. Murray has beaten Nadal twice late in grand slam tournaments, including in New York in 2008. Federer has a good history with Roddick but Roddick showed that he has the ability to give him trouble, most notably in the epic 2009 Wimbeldon Final won by Federer.
Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych are also strong candidates to win the Open as well. Both have been runner-ups to Nadal at a slam this year after defeating Federer in the quarterfinals. But Roddick and Murray are the players who have the most to prove in this tournament. Look for one of them to prove themselves on the big stage and hoist the 2010 U.S. Open trophy in just over a fortnight from now.