The American hard court series is about to start, with the world's top players looking to fine tune their game in order to win the last Grand Slam of the year, the US Open.
So far, the world number 1 Novak Djokovic has won two of the three Grand Slams and he'll be looking to equal Rafael Nadal (2010) and Roger Federer's (2004, 2006 and 2007) record of three Grand Slam titles in a year.
It will not be an easy task for the world no.1 player, but here are five reasons why he will manage to win the 2011 US Open:
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As of right now, Novak Djokovic is head and shoulders above any other tennis player on the planet, he's the no.1 in the world and the undisputed best player in the world. He spent years in the shadows of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of the greatest players of all-time, but that is no longer the case.
While he still has a long way to go before his legacy can be even comparable to the legacies of the two aforementioned great champions, he's clearly a better player than both right now. His game virtually has no weaknesses at the moment. He has only lost once this season, to Roger Federer at the French Open. Other than, he has won every tournament in convincing fashion.
At the moment, there are four players in men's tennis who are clearly above the rest of the field (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray), but Djokovic is by far the best player right now.
Novak Djokovic is having one of the best runs in tennis history. He's 48-1 this season, having won two Grand Slams and four Master 1000 tournaments, an absolutely unbelievable record. His sole defeat of the season came against Roger Federer in the French Open, in a match where many consider that the Swiss master played his best clay court tennis ever.
He had won 43 consecutive matches before that loss, a streak that not even Roger Federer in his prime managed to replicate.
Djokovic fulfilled his dream by winning the Wimbledon tournament, in what was theoretically his weakest surface, and he has all the momentum going into the Hard Court season. His confidence can only be sky high, especially since hard courts are his favorite surface.
Winning the US Open would make this Djokovic season one of very best in tennis history.
Roger Federer is the greatest Grand Slam champion of all-time, one of the best hard court players ever (if not the best) and one of the best (if not the best) in US Open history as well.
He won five consecutive US Open titles between 2004 and 2008, losing only 13 sets in five tournaments. During these five years, Roger Federer was absolutely untouchable at Flushing Meadows, you just knew that if he was healthy he'd take the title.
This is no longer the case, however. As great as Federer is, he's already 30-years-old and not the all-conquering juggernaut he once was. He looked poised to win his sixth consecutive US Open in 2009 but was beaten by the younger and fresher Juan Martin del Potro in a tighly contested five-set final. In 2010, he lost in the semi-finals in another five-set thriller against none other than Novak Djokovic.
For the first time in many years, Federer isn't the favorite to go all the way. He no longer has a strangle-hold over the tournament, which might allow Djokovic to finally win it. After all, Federer annihilated Djokovic's hopes in the tournament three consecutive times (2007 final, 2008 and 2009 semifinals). This time around, Djokovic will be the clear favorite if he faces the Swiss.
Tennis is a sport where the mental side is almost as important as the physical side. No matter how talented a player might be, he will not be the world's best if he's not strong mentally. In fact, Djokovic himself admitted that his emergence as the best player in the world has a lot to do with a better mental focus.
As mentioned before, there are four players right now who are head and shoulders above the rest. Djokovic has a mental edge against all of them. Andy Murray is yet to win his first Grand Slam and he was mercilessly crushed by Djokovic in this year's Australian Open Final, Nadal has lost his five consecutive matches and his no.1 ranking to the Serb, and Federer, despite being the only man to defeat Djokovic this season, has lost his last two hard court Grand Slam matches against the Serb. Djokovic has a clear mental edge over his three closest rivals.
That said, it'd be foolish to leave Juan Martin del Potro out of the discussion. The 2009 champion basically didn't compete in 2010 due to injury, but he has been slowly finding his game again and made life very, very difficult for Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. If he manages to reach top form, he might potentially be Djokovic's main challenger in New York. His powerful serve and groundstrokes make him almost unstoppable in Hard Courts when on form.
The differences at the top of the game are so little that Djokovic's superior confidence might just make the difference at the US Open. Right now, he believes he can beat anyone, any time, a belief that has been fueled by his impressive results this year.
As far as consistency is concerned, the US Open has been Djokovic's best Grand Slam. Sure, he won the Australian Open twice, but he has also lost three times before the semifinals to players like Roddick and Tsonga.
Ever since he became a top player, Djokovic's most consistent Grand Slam has been the US Open. He lost the 2007 final to Roger Federer, the 2008 and 2009 semifinals both to Federer and the 2010 final to Rafael Nadal. He has been very, very close to glory and has only been stopped by two of the greatest players ever to pick up a racket.
He's clearly due a win at the US Open and this looks like the year where he can finally defeat Federer and Nadal. He's 24, at the peak of his career and has all the momentum on his side. He has every chance of finally winning the US Open. If he manages to do so, a French Open title will be all that's left to complete a career Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic is the player of the moment in men's tennis. He has already won two Grand Slams this year and looks like the favorite to win his third in Flushing Meadows. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and even Juan Martin del Potro can't really be left out of the discussion, but given his form this year, it's hard to look past Novak Djokovic.
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