By Christopher King
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have never met at the US Open, but that could all change this year.
The world’s two best tennis players have not ever been close to meeting in the Open, as injuries and fatigue have been important factors in past years. But this year both men are at the top of their games and a renewal of their rivalry may be in the cards.
Although much attention will undoubtedly be paid to the possibility of a Federer-Nadal final, 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic will be no easy match. Djokovic started off the year with a Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open and stayed hot with two Masters Series titles. But the Grand Slam winner has cooled off in recent months and has not won a tournament since May.
Vying for the championship along with the big names will be the seven men’s singles wild cards. Brendan Evans, Scoville Jenkins, Austin Krajicek, Jesse Levine and Sam Warburn from the United States, along with international competitors Carten Ball and Laurent Recouderc were awarded main draw entries for the tournament, set to start Aug. 25.
Nine other players will received qualifying wildcards for the qualifying to the main event, which is set to start on Aug. 19. Jean Yves Aubone, Ricardas Berankis, Chase Buchanan, Alex Clayton, Ryan Harrison, Travis Helgeson, Bryan Koniecko, Michael McClune and Tim Smyczek will all be vying to make it past the qualifiers for a shot at the title.
The US Open will also adopt a 3 plus 1 player challenge system for this year’s event. In past years, players were afforded two challenges per set and one for tiebreakers regarding electronic line calling, which was introduced in 2006. All professional tennis events will now use the 3 plus 1 player challenge system in an effort to make it uniform across the sport.
In addition to the performances on the court, the US Open will feature a celebration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of tennis’ open era. Included in the celebration will be an opening night commemoration of the 40 Open champions and vignettes featuring the champions on the video boards and around the stadium grounds.
Although Federed and Nadal have not met before in the US Open, this year is as good a year as any to have the makings of a truly spectacular championship match.