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U.S. Open 2015: Men's players to watch

Newsday's Jeff Williams picks five men's players to watch at the 2015 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

The Open's top seed and No. 1-ranked player
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Shaun Botterill

The Open's top seed and No. 1-ranked player in the world, Novak Djokovic continually shows up in the latest round of Grand Slam events and top-tier ATP events because he's simply the best defensive player ever. He won two more majors this year, beating Andy Murray in the final at Australia and Roger Federer in the final at Wimbledon. He lost the French final to Stan Wawrinka. His 20-1 record in Slams this year alone makes him the Open favorite. His return of serve and court coverage are the best.

ROGER FEDERER

Roger Federer still cruises the court like a
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Roger Federer still cruises the court like a player 10 years younger. For sheer elegance and economy of effort, Federer can't be beat. His 17 major singles titles are the all-time record and an 18th can't be ruled out as long as he remains healthy. He lost in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic, but he won their recent final at Cincinnati and earlier in the year in Dubai. He doesn't have the consistency that carried him to five straight Open titles, but he remains a consistent danger. Federer may be No. 2 in the seeding, but No. 1 in the fans' hearts.

ANDY MURRAY

Andy Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champ, has
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Shaun Botterill

Andy Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champ, has a lot of cash on the line at Flushing Meadows. He won this summer's Emirates Airline U.S. Open series. In doing so, he set himself up for the biggest payday in tennis history at the Open. As the winner, he would get $3,300,000 plus a $1-million bonus as the Open series champ. That's $4,300,000! Although he has not won a major this year, now is his time to cash in.

KEI NISHIKORI

Kei Nishikori is already the most successful Japanese
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Kovarik

Kei Nishikori is already the most successful Japanese player of all time with 10 total victories, three of them coming this year. Last year, he became the first Asian male to reach a Grand Slam final when he lost to Marin Cilic at the Open. Nishikori had beaten Djokovic in the semifinals. Nishikori, who is coached by American Michael Chang, has superb court coverage and a strong sense of anticipation.

RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal, a two-time U.S. Open champ, has
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Rafael Nadal, a two-time U.S. Open champ, has not had his best year, even though he's won three titles. But none of them have been Grand Slam events, including the French Open, which he ruled for nine consecutive years starting in 2005. His 14 major titles are tied for second with Pete Sampras behind Roger Federer. Nadal's hard-charging style has taken a toll on his body. He missed the U.S. Open last year with a wrist injury, then developed appendicitis. His knees and ankles have taken a beating. But if he can hold himself together for two weeks here, there's always a chance.

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