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U.S. Open preview: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer remain heavy favorites

Novak Djokovic, the U.S. Open's top seed, has

Novak Djokovic, the U.S. Open's top seed, has won four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Matthew Stockman

During the late summer in New York City, there are three certainties: heat, humidity and tennis’ big three shining under the city’s brightest lights.

It should come as no surprise that the top three seeds and clear favorites to win the 2019 U.S. Open men’s singles tournament are all-time greats Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The illustrious trio has combined to lift the trophy at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 11 of the last 15 years, and each has his sights set on making history in Queens yet again.

Decade of dominance

Djokovic and Nadal, seeded Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, each have won three U.S. Open titles since 2009. Defending champion Djokovic is the owner of four of the last five Grand Slam singles titles. He took care of Nadal in straight sets in the Australian Open to win a record seventh title Down Under, reached the semis at the French Open — won by Nadal — and last month outlasted Federer in the first-ever fifth set tiebreaker during an all-time classic Wimbledon final.

Djokovic’s toughest challenger in New York will be a resurgent and well-rested Nadal, who entered only one hardcourt tournament this summer, dominating rising star Daniil Medvedev in the Rogers Cup final, 6-3, 6-0. It was the first time in Nadal’s storied career that he has defended a title outside of clay.

More history for Roger?

According to oddsmakers, Djokovic and Nadal are heavy favorites to take home another title. The tennis world knows it would be a fool’s errand to count out Federer. The No. 3 seed took a well deserved rest after nearly toppling Djokovic at Wimbledon, a tournament Federer has won a record seven times. His only hardcourt tuneup of the summer ended in a round of 16 loss to Andrey Rublev in Cincinnati

The Swiss great has said he builds his summer schedule with the optimal performance in the Big Apple in mind. A favorable early draw could lead to a deep run in Flushing Meadows, where he’ll likely have to defeat both Djovokic and Nadal on the road to the title. If Federer can secure his sixth U.S. Open championship, he’ll become the oldest man (38) to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, which began in 1968.  

Former champs withdraw

Two of the usual top threats to the big three will sit out the 2019 U.S. Open.

Injuries continue to threaten the career of Andy Murray, who last week announced he’ll skip the tournament as he focuses on regaining his singles form following hip surgery that kept him off the court for seven months.

Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2018 runner-up and 2009 U.S. Open champion, also withdrew from the tournament after undergoing surgery on his right kneecap in June. The Argentine is still ranked No. 12 in the world and holds an impressive 35-9 overall record in Queens.

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