With 20 of the last 22 Grand Slams titles in their collective trophy case, the odds are good that either Roger or Rafa will take the 2010 U.S. Open.
Could this be the year that Rafa finally masters the dreadfully fast hard courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center? Or will this be the year that Roger Federer reclaims the title he's already held five times?
Or, are we in for another huge surprise like the one that Juan Martin del Potro provided us with last year?
Hard to say, and easy to write.
Beyond the obvious final, there are a lot of possibilities on the men's side. Here is a quick peek at which players are on the inside track to glory when the first balls are put in play tomorrow.
- Roger Federer - The five time champion just gained won a huge masters title in Cincinnati. If there was ever a place where he'd actually be expected to beat his rival Nadal, it would be New York.
- Rafael Nadal - Rafa claims that he isn't obsessed with winning in New York. Is that good news or bad news?
- Andy Murray - Murray became the fifth player to beat both Roger and Rafa in the same tournament in Toronto, and he seems to have finally shaken off the ill effects of his confidence depleting loss to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final. He loves the hard courts, and, yes, he's a very legitimate threat to win this title.
- Novak Djokovic - He's got the game, but does he have the brain?
- Robin Soderling - He blew big opportunities to pass Murray in the rankings this summer, but failing to advance past the 3rd round (with a bye) in Toronto and Cincinnati. Here's the question: In doing so, did he suffer a blow to his confidence, or give his body the rest it needs heading into a slam?
- Tomas Berdych - Coming off a French Open semifinal and a Wimbledon final, the physical specimen from the Czech Republic will look to turn in his best U.S. Open performance (3x in the round of 16) to date. It seems strange, but a quick glance at his career stats reveals that hard courts are actually Berdych's worst surface. He's 133-90 for his career and ten of his 15 losses in 2010 have come on cement.
- Nikolay Davydenko - He showed signs of life in the Cincinnati quarterfinal loss to Federer, but Kolya hasn't returned to form since his right wrist injury took him out of action after Indian Wells. That said, he's a two time semifinalist in New York, and has been to the fourth round in the last four years.
- Andy Roddick - Periods of overachieving, followed by periods of underachieving. That's been A-Rods story this year. But he's in the top-10, over mono, and ready to show the world that Americans can still play tennis.
- Mardy Fish - float like a Minnow, sting like a Piranha, Fish is playing the best tennis of his life at the moment, and his game is built for the fast New York surface.
- Marcos Baghdatis - Took out Nadal in Cincy, loves the bright lights, don't count him out of any match.
- David Nalbandian - The dude nobody wants to face in the first three rounds. Playing lights out tennis and holding up physically. Could be very very dangerous.
- Ernests Gulbis - Fun as heck to watch, but hasn't gone deep in a Slam in a long while.
- Marin Cilic - He peaked in January with a Semifinal appearance at the Australian Open. He's too humble to have let that go to his head, but he hasn't been the same since.
- Jurgen Melzer - Having a career year.
- Fernando Verdasco - A quarterfinalist last year. Hasn't been playing poorly, but hasn't been making headlines of late, either.
- Sam Querrey - Has the game, but does he have the desire?
- David Ferrer - Has the desire, but does he have the game?
- Ivan Ljubicic - He's 1-5 since the French Open. Ouch.
- Gael Monfils - He has the shots, but does he have the right shots at the right time?
- Nicolas Almagro - The bad news: Career hard court record of 35-48. The good news: 10-7 this year.
- John Isner: The bad news: Badly sprained ankle almost kept him out of the draw. The good news: He might be able to win without moving, the way he serves.
- Thiemo De Bakker, Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr. - Young players not to be missed, as both have made huge strides in 2010.
- Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock - Two young American kids to be hopeful for.
- Taylor Dent - U.S. Open karma is good after the heart warming display on Grandstand last year.
- Kei Nishikori - Qualifier is returning to the scene of his greatest moments as a pro. Still has a game to be reckoned with.
- Thomaz Bellucci - The bad news: 15-25 career record on hard court. The good news: 7-7 on hard courts this year.