The “Big Four” has been reduced to a “Big Three” for this year's U.S. Open.
With world No. 3 Rafael Nadal sidelined due to tendonitis, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are the overwhelming favorites to win the men's championship on Sept. 9 at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.
Federer, 31, recently regained the No. 1 world ranking after winning his record-tying seventh Wimbledon championship. Although he lost the Olympic gold medal match to Murray earlier this month at Wimbledon, Federer comes to Flushing Meadows feeling super confident after handling Djokovic in the final in Mason, Ohio.
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“Even though I reached almost all goals already this year by securing a medal, winning Wimbledon, and getting back to world No. 1, it's important for me to push forward and give myself the best possible preparation for New York,” Federer said.
Federer and the No. 3-seeded Murray could stage a rematch of the Wimbledon and Olympic finals in the U.S. Open semifinals after Murray was placed in Federer's half of the draw. Murray, a 25-year-old Scotsman, is seeking his first Grand Slam singles title.
“You do look at the whole draw and good draws from the first rounds on, but I'm not going there just to win the first round,” Federer said. “I'm going there to do very well and go very deep into the tournament.
Djokovic is the reigning U.S. Open champ and could face 2003 champ Andy Roddick or 2009 winner Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals before possibly meeting No. 4 David Ferrer in the semis.
“The draw is something that you really cannot effect,” Djokovic said. “It's a question of really luck. ... Thinking about [the] semifinals in this moment I don't think is the best thing because it's a really long way. There's 128 very motivated players who want to perform their best.
“It's the last major of the year and I'm sure that we're going to have a good two weeks”
MEN TO WATCH
» Roger Federer (No. 1 seed)
The 17-time Major winner won his seventh Wimbledon this summer and is soaring with confidence after beating Djokovic in straight sets in the finals in Mason, Ohio.
» Novak Djokovic (No. 2 seed)
Has lost his last four matches to the other members of the “Big Four” — Federer, Nadal and Murray, but comes in as the defending champ.
» Andy Murray (No. 3 seed)
Still seeking his first Major title but throttled Federer to win the gold medal in London.
» Juan Martin del Potro (No. 7 seed)
The 2009 U.S. Open champ is one of the few men with the punch and power to knock off the favorites.
» Andy Roddick (No. 20 seed)
His last and only Major title came here in 2003. He's little more than a sentimental pick at this point.
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria as he covers the U.S. Open all tournament long.