Why is it that the US Open seems to be anticipated as the most wide open grand slam of the lot? I suppose logical reasoning dictates that Wimbledon is usually won by the half-man, half-ballerina Roger Federer, and it would take the use of a straitjacket, and a blindfold to stop Rafael Nadal on the clay.
When you gauge the way things have went since Rafael Nadal munched on the side of his Wimbledon trophy, it is fair to say that there is no overwhelming favourite coming into the US Open. Our own Andy Murray was so impressive, as he turned in virtuoso performance after virtuoso performance to clinch his first title of the year in Toronto. Roger Federer was perhaps not in as blistering form, but still played efficient tennis to win the Cincinnati Masters.
Nadal is well known to struggle with the lightning quick courts in America. The world number one gets even less time to chase down balls, his serve lacks raw pace compared to opponents such as Roddick, Cilic, Soderling, Del Potro, and his body does tend to face a perennial struggle, after his terrific exploits on the clay and grass. However, can you really write off a man who shows such warrior-like qualities, whenever he steps onto a tennis court?
And as for the enigmatic Novak Djokovic, a man who can play spellbinding tennis one week and then look unashamedly ordinary the next. It is hard to see the Serb winning a second grand slam title in Flushing Meadows over the next fortnight, but there is no doubt he has the tennis within him to do so. It is easy to recall the New York crowd booing Djokovic after a night session encounter with Andy Roddick in 2008, and it will be intriguing to see the reception that he gets this year.
Juan Martin Del Potro will unfortunately not be able to defend his title, due to a wrist injury that has kept him off the tour since the start of the year. It is questionable whether the gargantuan Argentine would have even mustered a victory after recovering from such a serious and lengthy injury, but his withdrawal makes this a rhetorical question.
Outside threats seem to be the hard-hitting duo of Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych. Both have reached grand slam finals and should have ideal games for such a quick surface, and I would expect one of these guys to make their mark on the tournament. Andy Roddick has been suffering from illness, and hasn't had the ideal preparation for a grand slam, but looked somewhat back to his normal self last week in Ohio. Out of all the Americans, I would back him to go the furthest, but that is perhaps a reflection on the malaise in US tennis, rather than the depth of quality.
Honourable mentions go to David Nalbandian and Mardy Fish, but in this recent era of tennis which has been dominated by Federer and Nadal, it is hard to see anyone from outside the top four winning. Compared to the sport of golf, tennis majors are rather predictable, but that won't stop us from hopefully being capitvated and kept awake, by the next two weeks in the city that never sleeps.