Predicting men's Grand Slam tennis championships is a bit like projecting each season's NBA champions. Someone from the small handful of players regarded as the best of the best probably is going to win. Through 19 Grand Slams this decade, just five men have won the biggest events: Rafael Nadal (eight), Novak Djokovic (six), Roger Federer (two), Andy Murray (two) and Stan Wawrinka, who won his first at the Australian Open in January.
Presuming that the trend will continue and that one of the aforementioned five men -- it won't be Nadal, who can't participate due to a wrist injury -- will win, here's a look at the favorites for the event, which begins Monday at Flushing Meadows.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic
The Djoker, who won it all in Queens in 2011 and has been to the finals in each of the past four years, starts against Diego Schwartzman. He has a tough draw, but is a good bet to be a finalist once again.
No. 2 Roger Federer
This could be the 33-year-old's best remaining chance at adding an 18th Grand Slam victory, which would be his sixth at Flushing Meadows thanks to a reasonable draw. His journey begins against Marinko Matosevic.
No. 3 Stan Wawrinka
Wawrinka is coming off his best showing at the U.S. Open a year ago, when as a No. 9 seed he was felled by Djokovic in the semifinals in five thrilling sets. He'll open against Jiri Vesely.
No. 8 Andy Murray
The 2012 champion has not failed to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam he's participated in since the 2010 French Open. However, the Scot may have to deal with Djokovic in the quarters in Flushing. But first, he'll meet Robin Haase.