US OPEN ’18: Nadal aims for 2nd title in a row in New York

Published 9:16 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer
Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday:
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RAFAEL NADAL
Seeded: 1
Ranked: 1
Age: 32
Country: Spain
2018 Match Record: 40-3
2018 Singles Titles: 5
Career Singles Titles: 80
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open (’10, ’13, ’17), Wimbledon (’08, ’10), French Open (’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’17, ’18), Australian Open (’09)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-Won Championship,’16-Lost in 4th Round,’15-3rd,’14-Did Not Play,’13-W
Aces: Won the U.S. Open as No. 1 seed in 2010, 2017. … Trying to become first man to repeat as champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth in a row in 2008.
Topspin: Beat two past U.S. Open champions and two future stars en route to tuneup title at Toronto Masters this month.
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ROGER FEDERER
Seeded: 2
Ranked: 2
Age: 37
Country: Switzerland
2018 Match Record: 33-5
2018 Singles Titles: 3
Career Singles Titles: 98
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open (’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08), Wimbledon (’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’12, ’17), Australian Open (’04, ’06, ’07, ’10, ’17, ’18), French Open (’09)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-QF,’16-DNP,’15-RU,’14-SF,’13-4th
Aces: Only made it to the final at Flushing Meadows once in the decade since his last title. … Could face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Topspin: Still has never played Nadal at the U.S. Open. If they meet this year, it would be for the title.
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JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO
Seeded: 3
Ranked: 3
Age: 29
Country: Argentina
2018 Match Record: 37-10
2018 Singles Titles: 2
Career Singles Titles: 22
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (’09)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-SF, ’16-QF, ’15-DNP, ’14-DNP, ’13-2nd
Aces: Playing in his 22nd major tournament since his lone such title. If he gets a second, he would set an Open era record for most Slam appearances before No. 2.
Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game makes him ever-dangerous on hard courts. Just needs his oft-repaired left wrist to hold up on backhands.
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ALEXANDER ZVEREV
Ranked: 4
Seeded: 4
Age: 21
Country: Germany
2018 Match Record: 43-13
2018 Singles Titles: 3
Career Singles Titles: 9
Major Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open (’18)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-2nd,’16-2nd,’15-1st,’14-DNP,’13-DNP
Aces: Recently started working with Ivan Lendl, saying: “He’s a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes.”
Topspin: Has won three Masters titles. Now it’s time to step up at a Grand Slam tournament and get to his first semifinal.
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KEVIN ANDERSON
Seeded: 5
Ranked: 5
Age: 32
Country: South Africa
2018 Match Record: 33-1
2018 Singles Titles: 1
Career Singles Titles: 4
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (’17)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-RU, ’16-3rd, ’15-QF, ’14-3rd, ’13-2nd
Aces: Runner-up at two of the past four majors, including in New York last year, then again at Wimbledon last month.
Topspin: Coming into his own late in his career, he’s shown that with a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, he is a contender on fast surfaces.
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NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Seeded: 6
Ranked: 6
Age: 31
Country: Serbia
2018 Match Record: 33-10
2018 Singles Titles: 2
Career Singles Titles: 70
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 13 — U.S. Open (’11, ’15), Wimbledon (’11, ’14, ’15, ’18), Australian Open (’08, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’15, ’16), French Open (’16)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-DNP, ’16-RU, ’15-W, ’14-SF, ’13-RU
Aces: Since starting the year 6-6, has gone 27-4. … Titles at Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters (beating Federer in the final) make him a popular pick.
Topspin: Sure seems very close to being right back at his best after a lull caused at least in part by an injured right elbow.
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JOHN ISNER
Seeded: 11
Ranked: 11
Age: 33
Country: United States
2018 Match Record: 26-5
2018 Singles Titles: 2
Career Singles Titles: 14
Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open (’11)
Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’17-3rd, ’16-3rd, ’15-4th, ’14-3rd, ’13-3rd
Aces: 12 of 14 titles have come in the U.S. … Just one quarterfinal appearance in New York, way back in 2011.
Topspin: Says playing with calm and not fretting over results helped him have his best season, including first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.
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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

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