Here we are at the season’s final Grand Slam, the US Open, and every baller’s last attempt to leave their personal stamp on the 2008 season. For some it’s an opportunity to solidify a career-making year and for others a chance to salvage what could've been.
Let’s take a look at the top contender’s for the US Open championship:
RAFAEL NADAL – 2 Grand Slams. Olympic gold. 70-8 win/loss record. Rise to World No. 1. In past years we might have been talking about a certain someone else, but this year it’s all about Rafa. The Spanish steamroller crushed everyone and took names on his path towards world domination.
His sensational season really began on his beloved clay winning two Master Series shields (Monte Carlo, Hamburg) and a fourth consecutive Roland Garros crown staying undefeated at the Slam. Rafa continued his tear by earning his first grass-court title at Queen’s Club and winning arguably the greatest match ever at Wimbledon, grabbing Toronto for his third Master Series of the year, and then seizing an emotionally golden win in Beijing. Will Rafa have enough left in the tank for New York where the 22-year old has never been to the final four? If we’ve learned anything this year it's this: expect the unexpected from the Majorcan Matador.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC – Last year’s finalist had a solid first half of the season grabbing his maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne, defeating Rafa in the semifinals during his championship run at Indian Wells, and winning in Rome. But that’s where the fun stops: a poor showing at Wimbledon coupled with two straight Master Series losses to Andy Murray (someone he dominated) has shown fragility in the Serb’s usual bravado. But Nole made his country proud with his bronze-winning ways at the Olympics. Will this give him the confidence to go one more in New York?
ROGER FEDERER – Once the odds-on favorite at any non-clay Slam "the Fed" has, over the course of the season, become human. The usually ethereal Swiss has been utterly ordinary hoisting two small trophies at Estoril and Halle. However, recent losses to Gilles Simon, Ivo Karlovic, and James Blake are more worrisome and have revealed severe cracks in his once invincible aura. But the former no.1 did make the semifinals in Australia, finals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon and grabbed the elusive gold medal, albeit in doubles, at the Olympics. You'd be a fool to count out a 12-time Grand Slammer in anything and a comeback story in New York would only add to his legend.
ANDY MURRAY – The Brit baller wants to play with the big boys and he’s shown he’s ready this year. The turning point in Andy’s season was his epic come-from-behind win against Richard Gasquet in Wimbledon’s fourth round. He went on to lose to Rafa in the quarters but the Richard win set the stage for his aforementioned, consecutive wins over Nole and his first Master Series shield in Cincinnati. Aside from the ugly, first round loss to unheralded Yen-Hsun Lu in Beijing, Andy has looked fit and ready to take his first career Grand Slam.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO – This rising Argentine won his first pro title in Stuttgart and preceded to go on an unprecedented four tourney win streak – the first baller in history to win their first four tournaments consecutively. J. Martin showed great maturity when he decided to skip New Haven even with the possibility of winning the US Open Series and some extra bank. The 19-year old currently owns a 19-match win streak and with his clean ball-striking and much improved mental and physical game I have one thing to say: BALLERS BEWARE.
Who are your contenders for the men's US Open title? Do tell!
(image via Getty)