Five men to watch
Originally published on 27/08/17 00:00
Grigor Dimitrov [BUL]
Best result: 4th round 2014, 2016
First round opponent: Vaclav Safranek
The Bulgarian captured his first Masters title in Cincinnati last week after overcoming Nick Kyrgios in an entertaining final. It’s the greatest triumph of his nine-year career and he has returned to the Top 10.
Dimitrov appears to be entering his physical peak at a time when many of his rivals have succumbed to injury. His athletic prowess and scrambling skills came to the fore in Cincinnati, and he seems to be firmly on the road to fulfilling his considerable potential.
At times, Dimitrov can be apprehensive when attempting to close out matches of significance. He was resolute for the duration of Cincinnati though, and he served for glory against Kyrgios without hesitation.
Dimitrov should be attempting to challenge for the title in New York. He has rarely entered a major in better fettle and he has a real opportunity to become the newest member of the exclusive Grand Slam Club.
John Isner [USA]
Best US Open result: Quarter-finals, 2011
First round opponent: Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Isner may possess the biggest weapon in the sport, but his results at the US Open have been surprisingly disappointing. The 32-year-old reached the last eight in 2011 but he should have achieved more at the major perfectly suited to his imposing gamestyle.
After a shock second round loss to Dudi Sela at Wimbledon, the 6'10" American has responded impressively and enjoyed a productive few months.
He won Newport and Atlanta in consecutive weeks – without conceding a set – and he was unfortunate to be bundled out the Cincinnati Masters at the semi-final stage.
His decision to play Winston-Salem prior to the US Open is somewhat questionable though, and he could suffer the consequences if he embarks on a deep run in New York.
Too often Isner becomes embroiled in bruising and lengthy tussles in the early stages of a major and if he is to equal or surpass his best result at the US Open, he will need to conserve as much energy as possible in the first week.
David Ferrer (ESP)
Best US Open result: Semi-finals 2007, 2012
First round opponent: Mikhail Kukushkin
After a troublesome first six months to the season, the evergreen Spaniard has enjoyed a recent resurgence and he arrives in New York full of confidence after a credible semi-final appearance in Cincinnati.
A dismal clay-court season appeared to indicate the 35-year-old was approaching the end of his stellar career, however title success in Bastad has given him a much-needed morale-boost.
Ferrer, a gritty and tenacious competitor, is a tough obstacle to overcame – especially in the best-of-five set format. He is unlikely to challenge for the title, but few players well relish the prospect of being paired with the Spanish warrior.
Fabio Fognini [ITA]
Best US Open result: 4th Round 2015
First round opponent: Stefano Travaglia
The volatile and temperamental Italian remains an enigma, but his talent is not in question. With Juan Martin del Potro’s former coach, Franco Davin, in his corner, Fognini has been more focused and the angry outbursts have been less frequent.
The 30-year-old began his hard-court season with a second round defeat to Dominic Thiem in Cincinnati however he did reach the last four in Miami earlier this season.
If Fognini remains composed, he could reach the second week – and Rafael Nadal will be especially keen to avoid a showdown with the Italian No.1.
Sam Querrey [USA]
Best US Open result: 4th round 2008, 2010
First round opponent: Gilles Simon
After reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon, it was all going to be interesting to see how Querrey reacted to his best Grand Slam result.
He responded excellently to his SW19 run and won his next tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico. The 29-year-old is an unrelenting attacking force when in full flight, but he still struggles to churn our results in a weekly basis.
The American’s high-risk gamestyle is always going to lead to fluctuating form however he will expect to reach the second week at Flushing Meadows. He has the firepower to unseat any opponent and he should use the home-crowd to his advantage.