US Open ’19: As usual, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer lead the way

Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday:

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Seeded: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 32

2019 Match Record: 38-7

2019 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 75

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 16 — U.S. Open (3: 2011, 2015, 2018), Australian Open (7: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019), French Open (1: 2016), Wimbledon (5: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-Won Championship, 2017-Did Not Play, 2016-Runner-Up, 2015-W, 2014-Lost in Semifinals

Aces: Has won 4 of past 5 major tournaments, 33 of past 34 Grand Slam matches. … Reached at least semifinals in each of last 11 U.S. Open appearances.

Topspin: At the moment, it’s hard to pick against Djokovic, in general, but especially on his preferred hard courts — and when the stakes are greatest.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Sam Querrey in 2nd round, three-time major champ Stan Wawrinka in 4th round.

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RAFAEL NADAL

Seeded: 2

Country: Spain

Age: 33

2019 Match Record: 41-6

2019 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 83

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 18 — U.S. Open (3: 2010, 2013, 2017), Australian Open (1: 2009), French Open (12: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019), Wimbledon (2: 2008, 2010)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-SF, 2017-W, 2016-4th, 2015-3rd, 2014-DNP

Aces: Closing in on 750 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 10; only Jimmy Connors (789) has more.

Topspin: Chances of getting closer to Roger Federer in Grand Slam title chase depend on how body holds up. … Retired from his semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro a year ago in New York.

Matchup to Watch For: Plays John Millman, who beat Roger Federer in New York last year, in 1st round.

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ROGER FEDERER

Seeded: 3

Country: Switzerland

Age: 38

2019 Match Record: 39-6

2019 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 102

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open (5: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), Australian Open (6: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018), French Open (1: 2009), Wimbledon (8: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-4th, 2017-QF, 2016-DNP, 2015-RU, 2014-SF

Aces: 62-minute loss to Andrey Rublev this month was quickest tour exit since 2003 and left Federer with just 1 hard-court match victory on the tuneup circuit. … Turned 38 on Aug. 8; no man that old has won a Slam title in the professional era.

Topspin: Since 6 consecutive U.S. Open finals from 2004-09, has been back to the title match only once. But there’s a lot less tread on his tires this time.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Lucas Pouille in 3rd round.

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DOMINIC THIEM

Seeded: 4

Country: Austria

Age: 25

2019 Match Record: 31-12

2019 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 14

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, French Open (2018, 2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-QF, 2017-4th, 2016-4th, 2015-3rd, 2014-4th

Aces: Has beaten No. 1-ranked player in each of past 3 seasons, including Djokovic in 2019.

Topspin: As good on hard courts as clay, with only 1 major quarterfinal so far, but if the draw breaks his way, could return to Week 2.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Gael Monfils or Felix Auger-Aliassime in 4th round.

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DANIIL MEDVEDEV

Seeded: 5

Country: Russia

Age: 23

2019 Match Record: 44-16

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 5

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: 4th, Australian Open (2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Leads tour in match wins, hard court wins (31-8), final appearances (6). … Reached finals at past 3 tournaments, all on hard courts.

Topspin: A lesser-known, younger player who could make a major quarterfinal for first time — as long as he’s not too exhausted.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Fabio Fognini in 4th round.

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STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Seeded: 8

Country: Greece

Age: 21

2019 Match Record: 37-18

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 3

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, Australian Open (2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-2nd, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Enters on 3-match losing streak. … Already had defeated Djokovic, Nadal and Federer before turned 21, youngest player with a win against each member of the Big Three.

Topspin: Still dealing with inconsistency but serving, volleying and court coverage are strong enough for a strong performance in his second U.S. Open.

Matchup to Watch For: Plays Andrey Rublev in 1st round; could play Nick Kyrgios in 3rd round.

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TAYLOR FRITZ

Seeded: 26

Country: United States

Age: 21

2019 Match Record: 26-21

2019 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 1

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: 3rd, U.S. Open (2018) and Australian Open (2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-1st, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Lost to Dominic Thiem in New York the past two years. … Cracked ATP top 25 in August, youngest American man that high since Andy Roddick in 2004.

Topspin: If he keeps up his year-by-year progress at Flushing Meadows, due to make Week 2 Slam debut.

Matchup to Watch For: Plays Feliciano Lopez in 1st round.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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