The 2016 U.S. Open kicks off Monday morning in New York City, as the world's best tennis players go hunting for the season's final Grand Slam title. The event wraps up a busy stretch that also included the French Open, Wimbledon and Rio Olympics.
Only one of the two singles titles is being defended this year. Novak Djokovic won his second U.S. Open crown last year and is back looking for a third. Reigning women's champion Flavia Pennetta retired at the end of the 2015 campaign, though.
Let's check out all of the important details for the first day of play, including the TV schedule. That's followed by a preview and predictions for some of the best matches on tap.
Monday's Viewing Information
Where: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City
When: Play begins at 11 a.m. ET
Watch: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET (ESPN) and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Picks for Top Matches
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Jerzy Janowicz
Djokovic started the major campaign in perfect fashion, winning both the Australian Open and the French Open. He's struggled on the marquee stages since setting himself up for a potential Golden Slam, however, losing in the third round of Wimbledon and in the first round of the Olympics.
Now he arrives in New York with serious questions about how his wrist will hold up. The 29-year-old superstar didn't look anywhere close to full strength in his loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the Rio Games and admitted it's still not fully healed, per Simon Briggs of the Telegraph.
"The wrist hasn't been in an ideal state for the last three-and-a-half weeks," Djokovic said. "But I'm doing everything in my power with the medical team to make sure that I'm as close to 100 percent as possible."
He'll try to fight through the lingering pain to make a deep run in the U.S. Open. It won't be an easy task based on a tricky draw, though. It starts with his first career meeting against the inconsistent but talented Jerzy Janowicz, who's reached as high as No. 14 in the world.
While it's a match Djokovic should win, don't be surprised if it gets complicated for the top seed. Janowicz is the type of player who can get red-hot in sudden bursts, and with the Serb's return compromised due to the injury, that might be enough to steal at least one set.
Prediction: Djokovic in four sets
(8) Madison Keys vs. Alison Riske
As usual, Serena Williams enters a Grand Slam event as the clear favorite in the women's draw. That said, Madison Keys is one of the legitimate title hopefuls in the second wave of contenders, a group that also features Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.
The question is whether the 21-year-old American, who's never reached a major final, is ready to take the next step toward stardom by winning a Grand Slam title. Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press (via the Standard-Speaker) noted she's hoping it will happen soon but won't be overly concerned if it doesn't.
"I want to get to that next step as quickly as I can," Keys said. "If that's three weeks, great. But if it's three months, no problem, or even three years."
She can't afford to overlook Alison Riske, a fellow American, in the opening round. Although the No. 8 seed holds a 4-1 lead in their previous meetings, three of the five matches went the distance. A similar battle could be on tap under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Ultimately, Keys has more weapons off both wings than Riske, and her power should eventually land her in the winner's circle of a major. Whether that happens in the U.S. Open depends on whether she can feature her A-game consistently during the second week, assuming she advances that far.
Prediction: Keys in three sets
Dustin Brown vs. (5) Milos Raonic
Like Keys, Milos Raonic is on the cusp of big things. He's reached the semifinals in two of the season's three majors, highlighted by an appearance in the Wimbledon final against Andy Murray, and he looks primed for a breakthrough either at the U.S. Open or sometime in 2017.
Winning a championship over the next two weeks would be quite the feat. Not only has he struggled to gain traction in the season's final major, never advancing beyond the fourth round, but he's also dealing with a tricky road to the title match, as Tom Tebbutt of Tennis Canada spotlighted:
The journey begins with what should be an entertaining clash with Dustin Brown. The energetic German is a highlight reel waiting to happen, but he doesn't have the power to match the Canadian. Plus, it's unclear how healthy Brown is after suffering an ankle injury during the Olympics.
Brown can give Raonic some trouble if he's at least close to full strength. The fifth seed should make his way through to the second round without too much drama, though. He'll want to limit his time on the court, because his second week, should he reach it, looks daunting based on the possible opponents.
Prediction: Raonic in four sets