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US Open 2015: Federer chases elusive 18th major; Serena on course for calendar-year Grand Slam

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 4:02 IST

The stage is set at New York's Flushing Meadows. A year that has seen Serena Williams dominate tennis in the women's field, and Novak Djokovic win two of the year's three majors in men's singles so far, now moves to the US Open, the year's concluding major.

For Djokovic, who had lost on only three occasions throughout the year until July, things haven't worked out well in August, as he went down in two consecutive tour finals, against Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams too suffered an uncharacteristic defeat earlier this month when she went down in three sets to 18 year-old Belinda Bencic in the Canadian Open final. However, despite the defeat, she remains on course to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam of her career.

Men's singles

Roger Federer produced one of his finest displays of the year when he disposed off Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters final on 23 August. In the semis, he had no problem easing past Andy Murray in straight sets. It was a reminder of the Swiss maestro's genius on the court, and the fact that he still remains one of the main contenders for the majors.

Federer has come up against Djokovic on five occasions this year, winning two and losing three matches. At Flushing Meadows, he should have a relatively easy passage to the quarters, where he could face Tomas Berdych. Reaching the semis will mean a possible encounter with Andy Murray or Stanislas Wawrinka, both of whom are set to face each in the quarters, barring any upset.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Photo: Twitter/SkySportsTennis

Djokovic, meanwhile, is likely to face Rafael Nadal in the quarters, and his nemesis at the tournament from last year, Kei Nishikori, if he moves into the semis. Defending champion Marin Cilic, who stunned Federer in the semis last year on the way to the title, has a tough draw this time around, with Grigor Dimitrov and David Ferrer on his side of the draw.

As things stand, Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray look like the only serious challengers to Djokovic and Federer at the US Open. Nadal's ability to recover from his severe drop of form looks suspect at the moment, while Cilic and Nishikori are unlikely to repeat last year's feats. A Djokovic-Federer final at Flushing Meadows looks like a very safe bet at the moment.

Women's singles

Serena Williams remains the overwhelming favourite to retain her US Open crown this year. If she manages to avoid an upset and win the title, she will become the first player in 27 years, across both genders, to win all four majors in a year. She will also equal Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 career major titles in the process.

Serena Williams. Photo: Twitter/Eurosport_UK

On Sunday, 30 August, Maria Sharapova confirmed her decision to pull out from the US Open after suffering a right leg injury. This will further boost Serena's title prospects, after both players had been drawn on the same half of the draw. The 33-year old American could, however, face Swiss tennis sensation Belinda Bencic, her conqueror at the Canadian Open, in the quarterfinal stage.

Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza, among others, will certainly be in the running to challenge Serena's dominance in the tournament, but given the latter's form, anyone else winning the title will come as a big surprise.

Men's doubles and women's doubles

In men's doubles, Bryan brothers, the defending champions, will start as the favourites once again. They could come up against the Indo-Spanish duo of Leander Paes and Fernando Verdasco in the 2nd round.

India's Rohan Bopanna, who had reached semis at Wimbledon this year alongside Romanian partner Florin Mergea, will hope to better his 2010 performance at the tournament, when he reached the final alongside Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The duo of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau will also be among the contenders after winning the Wimbledon title.

<a href=Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis. Photo: Twitter/airnewsalerts">

After their triumph at Wimbledon, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza will be among the top contenders for the title at Flushing Meadows, while 2nd seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova will hope to claim their third major of the year, having lifted the doubles titles at the Australian Open and French Open. The Timea Babos-Kristina Mladenovic duo is also expected to pose a stiff challenge to the top 2 seeds.

First published: 31 August 2015, 4:19 IST