|Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker, on Sunday
New York: Top seed Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer are favoured to wage another title showdown in the last Grand Slam of 2014, although some emerging young guns have other ideas for the US Open starting on Monday.
Djokovic and Federer’s path to a championship clash could be less troubled than usual with the absence of last year’s winner Rafa Nadal due to a wrist injury, and the sub-par form of 2012 champion Andy Murray since last year’s back surgery.
If the leading men star in the Arthur Ashe Stadium final, it would provide a sequel to their five-set thriller at the All-England Club in which a teary-eyed Djokovic hoisted the Wimbledon trophy.
Both claim to be overdue for another taste of triumph at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic counts just one US title (2011) in his haul of seven Grand Slams despite reaching the Flushing Meadows final in each of the last four years and five times overall.
Federer, 33, has five successive US Open crowns from 2004 but has gone without since. He extended his Grand Slam title record collection to 17 by winning the 2012 Wimbledon, which stands as his only slam triumph in his last 18 tries.
Also hoping to follow up the fireworks he set off at the last major is 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, who ousted Nadal in the fourth round before falling to Raonic in the quarters at Wimbledon.
Serena Williams will once again be counted on to wave the Stars and Stripes as she takes centre stage at the Flushing Meadows with the next generation of American tennis hopefuls waiting in the wings. The world number one has always made a point of how special it is to play at home and there is no bigger stage than Centre Court at the US National Tennis Centre during the year’s final Grand Slam.
Expectations weigh on Serena but it is a burden she has capably carried on her muscular shoulders since claiming her maiden Grand Slam on the New York hard courts in 1999 and 14 years later continues to do the heavy-lifting for US tennis. “I love playing in the USA,” said Serena. “Just feels so good it be an American and play in America. “I love holding up the trophy. For me, there is no better feeling.”
Serena has reached the US Open winner’s circle five times, including the last two years, and is favoured to add a sixth to her collection when the gates swing open.
She arrives in New York proclaiming to be at the top of her game, riding the momentum from hard court titles in Stanford and Cincinnati that book-end a semi-final appearance in Montreal where she lost to her resurgent sister Venus.
Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black were seeded third in the women's doubles event and they will open their campaign against Czech pair of Karolina Pliskova and Kristyna Pliskova.
Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, the defending champions, have been seeded sixth and they face Italian combo of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini in their first round.