As the last Major of the year, the US Open is always a high-stakes affair. It can often make the season for a top tennis professional, or it can crush them back to grounding reality. And with so much time before next year’s Australian Open brings the sport back, any heartbreak will take a long time to mend before the next season begins. Here is what’s at stake for the top superstars at the 2015 US Open:
1. Serena Williams’ Golden Slam – This Grand Slam represents the ultimate achievement for the American star. She can become only the second woman to win all the four Majors in one year, and she can match the all-time record in career Grand Slam titles at 22, in both cases equaling the great Steffi Graf. It’s been a tremendous season so far for Williams, can she finish it off with a bang?
2. Novak Djokovic matching his career best 2011 – Djokovic’s best year was in 2011 when he took 3 Majors and compiled a 43-match win streak. This year he isn’t far of the pace, having won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. With another US Open title, he’d match his career best of 2011!
3. Roger Federer proving he’s still got it – At 34, the legendary Federer is well past his peak, but he’s clearly still a force in pro tennis. Nevertheless, the fact remains that he hasn’t won a Major since Wimbledon 2012. As close as he’s gotten, with numerous semifinals and finals appearances since, he must clearly be aching for another grand slam title to cap off his tremendous career.
4. Stanislas Wawrinka continuing his ascent – Someone who has simply gotten better with age is Federer’s Swiss compatriot, Wawrinka. At age 30 he just recently cleared the Grand Slam hurdle, winning titles at the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open. He’s a great player and certainly wants to continue his surging career in America.
5. Rafael Nadal needs to get his groove back – It’s largely been a year to forget for Nadal, who couldn’t even muster another annual French Open title. Critics say his physically intense style of play is finally catching up with him through injuries at age 29. Is he done or will he return with a vengeance at the US Open?
6. Simona Halep needs to prove her high ranking – Ranked 2rd in the world, Halep has done little to meet expectations. Despite a couple deep runs at Majors, she hasn’t won any of them, and stuttered greatly at Wimbledon and in Paris. She can be the best on her day, but must desperately want to claim one of these Grand Slams. Could she play the role of spoiler in Serena Williams’ calendar Grand Slam quest?
7. Maria Sharapova wants to show she’s more than a moneymaker – Based on a tremendous 2004 Wimbledon that she won at age 17, and a gift of good looks, the Russian star has become the top female athlete earner worldwide. But while all that money is a blessing, she hasn’t beaten Serena Williams in over 10 years! Certainly Sharapova would love nothing more than to finally get over the hump at the US Open final and spoil Serena’s great season.
8. Time is running out for Caroline Wozniacki – Few players have suffered as much US Open heartache as this Danish star. Twice she’s been denied in the final, including in 2014. As a former #1 ranked player, she is desperate to claim a Major, and certainly has had most of her success in New York. Will this be her moment?
9. Andy Murray has been knocking on the door – Since Wimbledon 2013, Murray hasn’t won a single Grand Slam, but he’s been coming close in 2015, having reached one final and two semifinals. He’s always a solid performer at these tournaments and did win it in 2012. This could be his grand return to glory.
10. Kei Nishikori wants to take that next big step – One of the rising youngsters on the ATP Tour and a pioneer in Japanese tennis, Nishikori worked magic last year defeating Djokovic and reaching the US Open final. But in his great moment, Nishikori was beaten by Marin Cilic. He’ll definitely want to return his year and take the title, shedding the dishonor of his loss and cementing himself within the elite of men’s tennis.
Could the 2015 US Open be the most memorable year in sports?
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