Top-seeded titleholder Novak Djokovic, five-times champion Roger Federer and world No.2 Rafael Nadal are again the men to beat at the US Open.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have enjoyed a years-long stranglehold on grand slam titles and that dominance is unlikely to finish at the US Open where a cast of hopefuls will try to end their reign.
The ‘Big Three’ have combined to win the past 11 slams, with Serb Djokovic having triumphed in four of the past five blue riband events and a popular pick to successfully defend his New York title despite being dealt a tough draw.
Former world No.1 John McEnroe fully expects one member of the threesome to triumph in New York and suggested that the task of toppling them in a best-of-five set is currently too tall an order.
“You have to beat potentially at least two of them, in some cases three of them. That’s seemingly almost impossible to do,” McEnroe said.
“Perhaps with a little bit of luck something happens where a draw opens up. They’re human. At some stage they’re going to start losing more.”
Top seed Djokovic will begin his title defence against Roberto Carballes Baena, and before a projected semi-final clash with five-times winner Federer could meet former champion Stan Wawrinka or 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
One player who is widely considered a possible threat is Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, who has proven to be the most in-form player in the Open lead-up and is Djokovic’s projected quarter-final opponent.
Medvedev has never made it past the third round in New York but is more confident than ever after reaching the final in tune-up events in Washington and Montreal before securing the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati.
“The three weeks really pushed my confidence a lot,” said Medvedev, who has beaten Djokovic twice this season. “Now I know that when I play my best tennis I can beat basically everybody, and that’s what I need to keep doing here.”
Federer, owner of a record 20 grand slam titles, considers himself in fine form despite a forgettable US Open tune-up that consisted of a swift third-round upset in Cincinnati.
The 38-year-old Swiss third seed has played just two matches since last month’s Wimbledon final, where he failed to convert two championship points on his own serve in the fifth set against Djokovic, but is raring to go.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt in years coming into the US Open again, which is encouraging,” Federer said.
Three-times champion Nadal, whose title defence at last year’s Open ended with him retiring from the semi-finals with a knee injury, has also declared himself ready for battle.
The Spanish second seed has been drawn in the opposite half of rivals Djokovic and Federer and his biggest hurdle to the final could be fourth seed Austrian Dominic Thiem, who is his projected semi-final opponent.
Nadal, who will strive for efficiency in a bid to limit the punishment the hardcourts can inflict on his troublesome knees, may appear to have the easier path of the ‘Big Three’ to the final but was not about to acknowledge as much.