There are so many storylines percolating as tennis turns toward the American hard court season.
While a few venues cling nostalgically to the red clay, most players are dusting off their hard-court shoes, ready to do battle on the tour’s most debilitating surface for the remainder of the 2011 calendar.
The action really got underway this week in Atlanta for the men. Next week, however, the season moves to Los Angeles for the men and Stanford for the ladies.
The players will make their way toward the US Open in New York at the end of August, crowning a champion in September.
It is the last major tournament of the season played largely under lights at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. The event is loud, flashy and filled with drama in direct contrast to the sedate major tournament just concluded at the All England Club.
For the men, the battle at the top of the men’s game continues. Defending champion Rafael Nadal will attempt to recapture the US Open title and finally defeat the new world No. 1 Novak Djokovic this year.
The Serb has lost only once in all of 2011.
Roger Federer waits patiently for one of both men to falter as his quest to win slam No. 17 continues.
Andy Murray remains fixed on winning his first major, just has he has the past five years.
For the ladies, once again, it is the “old” versus the “young” as seasoned professionals like the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters fight their way back into top form while new-comers Petra Kvitova, Sabine Lisicki and Caroline Wozniacki hope to capture the title.
The women’s field is wide open once again.
Included in the major storylines surrounding this tournament are these predictions for the future unfolding at the US Open.