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Ultimate guide to the US Open

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THE season’s final grand slam is upon us with some – but not all – of the world’s best talent descending on New York for a two-week extravaganza.

More than ever, the dominant forces of old and new will be on show as 36-year-old Roger Federer starts as a short-priced favourite to win an extraordinary 20th grand slam title ahead of the 31-year-old newly minted world No.1 Rafael Nadal.

But while two veterans are favourites to dominate the world stage yet again, Flushing Meadows could easily be the platform for the newest generation to finally break through for their maiden grand slam titles: think 20-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, 23-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem or even Australia’s own 22-year-old, Nick Kyrgios.

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SNUBBED! Kyrgios left out of Laver Cup

FEDERER: Why tennis’ GOAT has the edge in New York

CHAMPIONS: Old mates on historic collision course

FOCUS: Ash Barty’s determination to deliver

Tennis: Nick Kyrgios lost his ATP final to Dirmitrov.

Kyrgios humbled in final

Of course, the men’s draw has opened up significantly with the high-profile withdrawals of former world No.1 Novak Djokovic (elbow), defending champion Stan Wawrinka (knee) and rising star Milos Raonic (wrist), while for the women, Serena Williams is still unavailable as she enters the later stages of her pregnancy.

An aerial view of the Arthur Ashe Stadium within Flushing Meadows.

WHERE

New York, baby! The tournament is played on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York City.

WHEN

29 August – September 11, Australian time.

HOW TO WATCH

The US Open will be broadcast on ESPN on the Foxtel network, with the latest videos, news and results found daily on FoxSports.com.au.

Play begins at 11am daily local time, which is 1am AEST from Tuesday, August 29.

The men’s and women’s singles champions stand to earn $A4.7 million.

PRIZE MONEY

This year the total prize money pool is a staggering $US 50.4 million ($A 63.8 million) – making it the richest tennis purse in history, increased by roughly $US 4 million from last year.

A record $US 3.7 million ($A 4.7 million) will go to the men’s and women’s champion, while runner’s up will jag a very respectable $US 1.825 million.

In the men’s and women’s doubles, the champions receive $US 675,000 ($US 854,500).

Angelique Kerber of Germany holds up her winning trophy after win last year’s US Open.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR

Stan Wawrinka and Angelique Kerber both produced stunning fortnights to be crowned singles champions in 2016. Wawrinka won his third grand slam with a brutal upset of world No.1 Novak Djokovic, while Kerber downed tenth seed Karolina Pliskova for her first US Open title. Wawrinka won’t have a chance to defend his title – he’s out with a knee injury – but Kerber is among the favourites to go back-to-back.

THE DRAW

The draw for this year’s US Open takes place in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Tennis: Nick Kyrgios lavishes praise on Girgor Dimitrov after a loss in the CIncinnati Masters final.

Kyrgios charming in defeat

THE AUSSIES

Men’s Singles

As ever, it falls on the in-form Nick Kyrgios to spearhead Australia’s campaign – but the combustible character has rarely been in better form heading to New York, following a super showing in Cincinnati last week where he upset newly installed world No.1 Rafael Nadal en route to a loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the final. A hip injury threatened to derail the back end of 2017 for the mercurial talent, and could yet play a part in how deep he goes at Flushing Meadows as he transitions to the more gruelling five-set format.

Nick Kyrgios is Australia’s best hope at the US Open.

Beyond Kyrgios? It’s slim pickings for the Aussie men, with former top-20 player Bernard Tomic tumbling down to 146th on the world rankings following a lacklustre season. He’s been usurped as Australia’s No.2-ranked male player by unheralded 23-year-old Jordan Thompson who snared the biggest scalp of his career in the lead-up to Wimbledon with a shock upset of then world No.2 Andy Murray at Queen’s. Still, Thompson is yet to reach the third round of a grand slam and it would take something special for him to make a deep run this week. Thanasi Kokkinakis is the wildcard and could spring an upset or two with his booming baseline game, which has helped him rocket 200 places up the rankings in his return following 18 months of injury frustration.

Tennis: Daria Gavrilova has advanced to the Semi Finals at the WTA event in New Haven after defeating Kirsten Flipkens

Dasha through to Semis

Women’s Singles

Former US Open champion, Samantha Stosur, will miss this year’s tournament with a hand injury – leaving Daria Gavrilova and this year’s huge improver, 21-year-old Ashleigh Barty, to fly the flag.

Barty surged to an incredible career-high of 42 this week to take Stosur’s place as Australia’s No.2-ranked woman and with big scalps – including that of Venus Williams’ in a Cincinnati boilover – to her name in recent weeks, hopes are high that the youngster can produce some excitement.

Ashleigh Barty has made a hugely successful return to the court following a break from tennis.

Gavrilova is Australia’s top dog in the women’s ranks, a feisty operator and a notoriously harsh critic who labelled herself a “grand slam choker” after a demoralising first-round Wimbledon defeat.

But with a booming baseline game and a tenacious attitude, she has the tools to make an impact – as shown by her hot run to the semi-finals at the Connecticut Open this week.

Never count her out.

Old foes, old friends: Rafael Nadal (L) and Roger Federer will again be the men to beat.

THE CONTENDERS

Men’s singles

Rafael Nadal, Spain

The claycourt colossus has crowned his stunning renaissance with a return to world No.1 but will need to break a near four-year title drought on hard courts to reign for the third time in New York.

Andy Murray, Scotland

The former champion and deposed world No.1 hasn’t played since Wimbledon and doubts remain over his fitness after he hobbled out of the All England Club with a debilitating hip injury.

Roger Federer, Switzerland

Fans, critics and maybe even the man himself spent four and half years wondering if the Swiss master would ever win an 18th grand slam crown. Now he’s favourite to capture No.20 after an extraordinary comeback in 2017.

Alexander Zverev, Germany

The much-trumpeted next generation leader has arrived, with the German prodigy cracking a top-four grand slam seeding for the first time after matching Federer’s tour-best five titles this season, including two Masters 1000 events.

Marin Cilic, Croatia

The big-hitting Croat has been troubled by an adductor injury since losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final but has proven a big-stage player when fully fit and looms as a serious contender once again.

Karolina Pliskova (R) looks on after losing last year’s final to Angelique Kerber. Can she go one better?

Women’s singles

Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic

A deserved world No.1 in Serena Williams’ absence after a tour-best 42 wins and three titles in 2017 but needs a grand slam crown to convince the skeptics.

Simona Halep, Romania

The Romanian warmed up with a semi-final appearance in Toronto and made the Cincinnati final but doubts remain over her mental toughness after three failed attempts this year to clinch the top ranking with one more win.

Garbine Muguruza, Spain

The Wimbledon champion hammered Halep for the loss of one game in the Cincinnati decider to confirm her status as the most complete all-court player on tour.

Elina Svitolina, Ukraine

The former world junior champion has entrenched her place among the elite with a breakout season and grand slam glory appears the next big step in her rise.

Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark

The former world No.1 has consistently enjoyed her best grand slam results in New York, twice reaching the semi-finals on top of her runs to the title match.

Venus Williams, USA

Carrying family hopes in the absence of pregnant sister Serena and in the mix to become the oldest champion in the professional era after reaching the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals.

Roger Federer (R) and Alexander Zverev are seeded 3 and 4.

THE SEEDS

MEN

Rafael Nadal is seeded No.1 at the US Open for the first time since 2010.

Nadal returned this week to No. 1, a ranking he last held in 2014.

That year’s French Open was the last time the Spaniard was seeded No.1 at any major. The man Nadal replaced atop the ATP, Andy Murray, is seeded No. 2 at Flushing Meadows, with Roger Federer No. 3.

Alexander Zverev is No. 4, and 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is No. 5.

1. Rafael Nadal

2. Andy Murray

3. Roger Federer

4. Alexander Zverev

5. Marin Cilic

6. Dominic Thiem

7. Grigor Dimitrov

8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

9. David Goffin

10. John Isner

11. Roberto Bautista Agut

12. Pablo Carreno Busta

13. Jack Sock

14. Nick Kyrgios

15. Tomas Berdych

16. Lucas Pouille

17. Sam Querrey

18. Gael Monfils

19. Gilles Muller

20. Albert Ramos-Vinolas

21. David Ferrer

22. Fabio Fognini

23. Mischa Zverev

24. Juan Martin del Potro

25. Karen Khachanov

26. Richard Gasquet

27. Pablo Cuevas

28. Kevin Anderson

29. Diego Schwartzman

30. Adrian Mannarino

31. Feliciano Lopez

32. Robin Haase

Garbine Muguruza (R) celebrates winning the Wimbledon final over Venus Williams.

WOMEN

Karolina Pliskova is making her debut as the top-seeded woman at any grand slam tournament.

After 2016 US Open runner-up Pliskova, Simona Halep is the women’s No. 2 seed, followed by Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza at No.3. Defending champion Angelique Kerber is No.6.

1. Karolina Pliskova

2. Simona Halep

3. Garbine Muguruza

4. Elina Svitolina

5. Caroline Wozniacki

6. Angelique Kerber

7. Johanna Konta

8. Svetlana Kuznetsova

9. Venus Williams

10. Agnieszka Radwanska

11. Dominika Cibulkova

12. Jelena Ostapenko

13. Petra Kvitova

14. Kristina Mladenovic

15. Madison Keys

16. Anastasija Sevastova

17. Elena Vesnina

18. Caroline Garcia

19. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

20. CoCo Vandeweghe

21. Ana Konjuh

22. Shuai Peng

23. Barbora Strycova

24. Kiki Bertens

25. Daria Gavrilova

26. Anett Kontaveit

27. Shuai Zhang

28. Lesia Tsurenko

29. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

30. Julia Goerges

31. Magdalena Rybarikova

32. Lauren Davis

THE MARKET

Men’s singles

Roger Federer – $2.50

Rafael Nadal – $3.50

Andy Murray – $9

Alexander Zverev – $9

Marin Cilic – $17

Nick Kyrgios – $19

Bernard Tomic – $151

Jordan Thompson – $501

John Millman – $501

Women’s singles

Garbine Muguruza – $5.50

Karolina Pliskova – $8.50

Simona Halep – $9

Johanna Konta – $11

Elina Svitolina – $11

Ashleigh Barty – $81

Daria Gavrilova – $101

Originally published as Ultimate guide to the US Open

Source: sports dailytelegraph

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