Rafael Nadal takes the court as the defending champion when the US Open gets underway on Monday, August 29.
Last year Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic to capture his first US Open trophy, adding the last piece to his career grand slam in the process.
It marked the pinnacle of the best year in Nadal’s career. In 2010, he won three slam titles––the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Nadal regained the No. 1 ranking, seizing it from Roger Federer when the Swiss faltered at Roland Garros.
At one point, the former world No. 1 had an opportunity to possess all four major championships at one time by winning the Australian Open in 2011. No man had accomplished that feat since Rod Laver did it in 1969.
Nadal, however, was unable to win his "Rafa Slam" at Melbourne in 2011. An unfortunate injury sent him out in the quarterfinals, losing to David Ferrer. The 2011 Australian Open title was captured by Novak Djokovic. This win marked the beginning of a remarkable run for Djokovic that ended at the French Open.
Djokovic proceeded to block Nadal at every opportunity, winning their next five contested finals. The Serb finally took away the No. 1 spot at Wimbledon, pushing Nadal back down to No. 2.
Still the world No. 2 has managed to have a very successful year. He won the 2011 French Open title, and Nadal has hopes of repeating as champion at the 2011 US Open.
As he readies for battle to reclaim his US Open championship, Nadal must be very satisfied with his draw. There appear to be no major stumbling blocks for the No. 2 seed all the way to the semifinals.
Since Nadal appears to get stronger with each match, it works out to his advantage that all his early-round contests look manageable.
What are Nadal’s odds of success? As we take a look at the potential draw of the former world No. 1, we can gauge the level of competition and the odds of Rafael Nadal making it through to the next round.