Nadal, Djokovic on collision course
And Britain’s Andy Murray, who opens against Australia’s tour bad boy Nick Kyrgios, might have to get past French Open winner Stan Wawrinka and 17-time major winner Roger Federer just to get a crack at Djokovic in the final on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.
The paths will be filled with qualifiers ahead of Monday’s start of the year’s final Grand Slam event in New York, where Djokovic’s only title came in 2011.
The 28-year-old Serbian star owns nine Grand Slam titles and seeks his third of the year after a third career win at Wimbledon and a fifth trophy at the Australian Open. Djokovic has tasted defeat four times in the US Open final, losing to Federer in 2007, Nadal in 2010 and 2013 and Murray in 2012.
Nadal leads Djokovic 22-20 in their all-time rivalry, but Djokovic won their most recent meeting at the French Open quarter-finals.
Defending champion Marin Cilic, who beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori in a final of surprise packets last year, likes Djokovic to claim the crown once again this time.
“I would still put Novak at the top of the list, even though Andy has shown his tennis has gone up and he is motivated,” Croatian ninth seed Cilic said.
“And Roger is a guy who will always be a contender. His win at Cincinnati was great to see.
“And I hope there are a few guys lower in the draw who are going to make it interesting.”
Djokovic, who opens against Brazil’s Joao Souza, has a good path to the last eight while Nadal opens against Croatian teen Borna Coric, who beat the Spaniard last year in at Basel, and might have to oust big-serving 10th seed Milos Raonic of Canada in the round of 16.
Fourth seed Nishikori, denied the chance last year to become the first Asian man to win a Grand Slam singles crown, could face a rematch with Cilic in the quarter-finals. He beat Cilic at Washington in their first meeting since last year’s final on the way to taking the title in the US capital this month.
Second seed Federer, who last won a Slam in 2012 at Wimbledon and last won at the US Open in 2008, opens against Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer and could meet US number one John Isner in the fourth round. France’s Richard Gasquet or Czech Tomas Berdych could await in the quarter-finals.
Murray is 3-0 <g data-gr-id="38">all time</g> against Kyrgios, the 20-year-old Aussie handed a suspended ban and fine this week for his lurid verbal attack on Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters. World number 37 Kyrgios triggered widespread revulsion for his on-court taunt that fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis had had a fling with WTA professional Donna Vekic, reportedly Wawrinka’s girlfriend.