The Us Open Tennis Championship gets underway at Flushing Meadows in New York next Monday with the big four in the Mens Singles dominating the headlines ahead of the event.
Despite his retirement when losing in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 final on Sunday against Britain’s Andy Murray, world number one Novak Djokovic remains the favourite to win as it is thought the injury is not serious. Rafael Nadal is second favourite followed by Roger Federer and Andy Murray
Djokovic heads to the tournament following an incredible year, which has seen him win 57 singles matches from 59 played. These wins have brought them two "Grand Slam" titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and five Masters 1000 titles, a new record for the series. He is now well established as the number one player in the world and provided his injury sustained against Murray is not too damaging, he is definitely the player to beat this week.
For Nadal, who won the US Open tennis title for the first time last year, it has been a difficult period. Believed virtually unbeatable at the end of last year, the Spaniard has seen the rise and rise of Novak Djokovic sweep all aside including himself, who he has beaten every time they have played each other this year and that includes two wins on Nadal's favoured clay surface. His defeat by Djokovic in the Wimbledon final underlined the gulf between the two both in playing ability and confidence and although Nadal will not surrender easily at Flushing Meadows, he has it all to do. He did manage to retain his French Open crown for a sixth time and a win at Flushing Meadows will give him his 11th "Grand Slam" title, equalling to that of Bjorn Borg.
The chances of Roger Federer cannot be written off either, who is the only player apart from Murray who has a victory over Djokovic this year. That win came in the French Open semi final before Federer went on to lose to Nadal in the final. The real truth however is that the great Swiss is beginning to wane a little and has been defeated by several unexpected players this year so far, including Melzer, Tsonga (twice) and Gasquet. He has also had his lowest ever haul of tournament wins since 2001 of just one, which came in the minor Doha Outdoor Tournament at the beginning of the year. Winning the US Open this year therefore to extend his tally to an incredible 17 looks exceedingly unlikely and perhaps the best he can hope for is a place in the last four.
Murray has had an inconsistent season but he has won two events, at Queens and more recently Cincinnati where he went through the tournament without dropping a single set. The Scot therefore is in great form but will be hoping above hope itself that his form stays with him, he serves consistently well and he earns just the small amount of luck that will take him to a first Grand Slam victory. However, it's difficult to see him ending that "Grand Slam" drought if any of the three ahead of him in the ATP rankings are fully fit and on form and as it stands a fully fit Djokovic is the one to beat in the 2011 US Open.