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2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships: Men’s Preview

Novak Djokovic (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

The Big Four

This year in tennis has been a coming out party for Novak Djokovic. The 24-year-old Serbian arrives in New York with a gaudy 57-2 record. The world number 1 also claimed two major titles this year, winning his second Australian Open and his first Wimbledon. Djokovic is not only having his best season ever, he is having one of the best seasons in tennis history.  Before his loss to Roger Federer at the French Open, Djokovic had won 43 straight matches. But Djokovic looked vincible on Sunday in Cincinnati. He dropped the first set and retired early in second with a shoulder injury, falling to Andy Murray. Despite his shoulder injury, Djokovic says he should be ready to go in Flushing next week and is still the favorite to win his first U.S. Open title.

Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, has not looked strong after his French Open victory. Nadal was outplayed by Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and has achieved substandard results since. He lost in three sets to Ivan Dodig at the Rogers cup and was taken down in straight sets by Mardy Fish in Cincinnati. However, Nadal has a propensity to raise his level in Grand Slams. If Rafa finds his form and plays aggressively, he is a serious threat to claim consecutive U.S. Open titles.

Andy Murray comes into the tournament riding high after winning the Cincinnati Masters last week. Murray has played consistent tennis all year as he has reached at least the semifinals in all three Grand Slams. The question with Murray is whether he actually believes he can win. Last week’s win over Djokovic could be just what he needed.  If Murray breaks through and wins, he would be the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry won the U.S Open in 1936.

Roger Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion, is winless in his last 11 tournaments. It is Federer’s longest title drought since 2001. Federer turned 30 earlier this month and is in the twilight of his career. The last man over 30 to win a Grand Slam singles title was Andre Agassi, at the 2003 Australian Open. The last man over 30 to win the U.S. Open was Pete Sampras, who was 31 in 2002. Federer looks vulnerable after being pushed around by Tomas Berdych last week in Cincinnati, falling in straight sets. The Swiss must keep rallies short and serve lights out to win his sixth U.S. Open title.

American Notables

Mardy Fish, the top ranked American, is playing the best tennis of his career. Fish reached the finals of the Rogers Cup, losing a tough three set match to Novak Djokovic. Fish then defeated Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati the following week, notching his first career victory against the Spaniard.The journeyman is in the top ten for the first time in his career and is in top form. If the big four aren’t at their best, the door could be open for Fish to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion has dropped out of the top 20 for the first time since August 2001. Roddick has been hampered by injuries most of the summer and hasn’t advanced past the round of 16 in a Grand Slam all year. Last Week, he was knocked out of the Cincinnati Masters by Phillipp Kohlschreiber. Roddick turns 29 next week. With nagging injuries and poor results, it will be tough for Roddick to go deep into the tournament.

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  1. New Post: 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships: Men’s Preview http://t.co/zwmxupJ

    Posted by Sports of New York | August 24, 2011, 8:00 pm

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