The final grand slam of the year starts on Monday, but there will be a different feel to it when the action gets underway at the big apple.
This is because there won’t be either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows. Federer is five-time winner at the US Open while Nadal has won the event four times.
However, neither will get the chance to add to their titles. Federer has not played much this year, playing just five events all year.
The Swiss maestro has been battling knee injuries over the last 12 months. Federer only returned to the tour this year after missing the last year due to two knee operations.
His last match was a quarter-final loss to Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon. Following that loss, Federer revealed he had an issue with his knee again and would undergo another surgery.
At age 40, the comeback road looks bleak for the 20-time grand slam winner, but he plans to return. Meanwhile, Nadal has also had his fair share of injuries, although he has played more this year than Federer.
The Spaniard missed Wimbledon and the Olympics, but played at the Citi open where he lost to Lloyd Harris. Nadal cited an existing foot injury after that loss, but still traveled to Canada with the intention to play Rogers Cup.
However, he pulled out before his first match, saying it’s still a problem. He subsequently announced he would shut down his season, thereby missing the US Open.
With no Federer and Nadal, the interest in this year’s event is not at the level of previous editions. However, there will be a keen interest in the other member of the big three, Novak Djokovic.
While his rivals are slowing down, Djokovic has is waxing stronger. The Serbian World No 1 has won the last three grand slam titles, and he’s on the cusp of history.
Djokovic will be the first man since Rod Laver to win all four majors in the same calendar year. He is the man to beat this year and with no Federer or Nadal, it’s hard to look past him.
Also, a win at the US Open means he will move past his two rivals in the grand slam title race, with the three players currently tied on 20.
However, his loss to Zverev in the semi-final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he was chasing the golden slam, also showed the pressure can get to him.
It now remains to be seen if the German and the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev can take advantage of that.
The next two weeks promises to be an interesting one, although the absence of Federer and Nadal means the US Open will lack its superstar feel this year.