We're now slowly coming out of a longer break period which the top players very deservedly enjoyed after Wimbledon. During the next month, more drama and suspense await us from the hard courts in the US, culminating in the US Open in the beginning of September.
Let's take a look at the best players' chances at the final Grand Slam of the year. As I have stated earlier this year, once again I simply cannot see any other winner than one of the top 3 - Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. So let's take a look at them in that order.
Novak Djokovic has accomplished something extraordinary this year - he has only lost one match until now and won eight tournaments, including Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He has been on the roll of his life and he also managed to overcome both Federer and Nadal in important matches.
The question now is - can he keep the momentum up? If the answer is yes, then he is most certainly the biggest favourite of the US Open. His energy level on court is unmatched at the moment and so is his shotmaking. He also has a huge psychological advantage over Nadal, which is a huge confidence boost for him.
But we must not forget that it will not be easy to remain close to invincible. He has now reached two of his dreams - the nr. 1 ranking and the Wimbledon crown, all in a very short time. Having obtained these goals, he might feel an immense satisfaction and even lose some of that incredible hunger he has for the game.
I also wonder if he already now thinks about how he is going to hold on to the precious nr. 1 position, especially next year, when he has to repeat this year's fairy-tale-like performance to have a chance to keep it. As a comparison - even when Roger Federer was at his very best, he always lost a few matches here and there, and these losses actually helped him to stay nr. 1., since he had somewhat less points to defend one year later.
Rafael Nadal is a bit of a questionmark this year. It was quiet obvious that it would be almost impossible for him to remain nr. 1 after the incredible 2010 season. The Spaniard has not looked impressive at all since then, mostly thanks to Djoko's five straight victories against him.
Yes, he did win Roland Garros for the sixth time, but somehow he seems weaker than last year. And for the first time in his career, he's been looking quiet bewildered in his matches against Nole, openly admitting that his game simply is not enough to bother the Serb at the moment.
This psychological burden is now turning into a complex which very well could prevent him from defending his title at Flushing Meadows. But I still wouldn't count Rafa out and I hold him as one of the favourites for the title.
Roger Federer has once again produced a refreshed attacking game this year, which looks more beautiful than ever. He also managed to beat Djokovic as the only man to do so this year, in a frenetic French Open semifinal.
Yet this level of play hasn't been enough to win him any Grand Slams, which is clearly a disappointment by his standards. Especially the quarter-final loss against Tsonga at Wimbledon was a bit of a mystery after two perfect sets, but one must also hail Tsonga for showing no weakness in the last three.
In my mind, Roger is still playing extremely well and has the game to beat the top 2 at the US Open. I believe he could definitely beat Nadal considering the Spaniards' current form, but the big question is of course how he would do against Djokovic, especially considering last year's semifinal, which he lost to the Serb after having two match points.
For me, Roger is not the top favourite at Flushing Meadows, but I would still put him as second favourite behind Djokovic.
Andy Murray is still suffering from Grand Slam drought. After a perfect performance at Queens, he once again bowed out to Nadal at SW19. It was a match where one single point made all the difference. Had he won that point, things might have turned out very differently. But he didn't, and that is somehow typical for his lack of flow at Grand Slam level.
As I have said before, if he somehow manages to win one Slam, he will probably win more after that. But this has to happen, and quiet soon, otherwise he'll become more and more frustrated and his task more and more difficult. However, I don't see the first win coming at the US Open.
After a long injury period, Juan Martin del Potro is definitely on his way back to the very top. We all know he has the potential and he has also one Slam in his bag already. He played very well against Nadal in Wimbledon, but he still has some way to go. It is too early for him to have a realistic chance in New York this year, but he might definitely be a top 3 contender by next season.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the positive surprise of the grass season, playing extremely well in both Queens and Wimbledon. It remains to be seen whether he can keep up his booming serve and heavy groundstrokes on the hard courts. He definitely has the potential to cause another major upset, but considering the players above him in the rankings, a win at Flushing Meadows would be the sensation of the year.