As the sun rises in the east, we arrive in New York for the final Grand Slam of the year. For two weeks, the world's best tennis players will arrive at this concrete jungle to tennis' grandest stage. The latest news from the city that never sleeps is that change is coming. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Which of tennis' big three will be crowned the 2011 US Open Champion?
Rafael Nadal, 2010 US Open Defending Champion
Rafael Nadal is considered by many to be the greatest player in the game.
In the final of last year's US Open, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–2 which completed his Career Grand Slam. Nadal and Roger Federer are the only two males since Andre Agassi to achieve this milestone.
Nadal also became the first man to win grand slams on clay, grass, and hard court in the same year. He is the first to win the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.
Nadal has won practically everything a player can win. Defending his title is his only focus.
To play Nadal is the greatest test a player can have. He grinds and digs out every shot. In this way Nadal forces his opponents to hit one more shot to beat him and not give it away.
If Nadal is fit and healthy, he is going to be very tough to beat. After losing to Novak Djokovic five straight times earlier this year, Nadal is looking for payback.
The fairy tale season for Novak Djokovic continues. Djokovic has three Grand Slam titles, with two of those occurring this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
In doing so, he passed both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to the become the No. 1 player in the world.
Djokovic has gained a new level of confidence and is now convinced he is the No. 1 player in the world. He is going to need that conviction if he is to win in New York.
Djokovic is moving incredibly well. His balance is impressive as well as the way he plays the corners. He knows how to turn defense into offense causing his opponents to scramble.
In light of his performances so far this year, Djokovic is without a doubt a favorite at this year's US Open. He is a tough competitor who has upped his mental game and can handle the pressure of a New York final.
Roger Federer is declared by most to be the greatest player of all time. Federer has won an impressive 16 Grand Slam titles including five straight US Open titles from 2004-2008.
Between the years of 2004-2009, Federer won 41 consecutive US Open matches, the most of any male player in the Open era.
Even though Federer has slipped to No. 3 in the rankings this year, he should not be ruled out. Federer is a fighter who has amazing competitive ability. He loves the outer court and knows how to keep his competitors on edge.
Federer's versatility was summarized by Jimmy Connors: "In an era of specialists, you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you're Roger Federer."
In the best of five sets here at the US Open, if Federer has all things firing simultaneously, it will take a Herculean effort to beat him.