Rafael Nadal is the defending Emirates Airline US Open Series champion.
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By E.J. Crawford
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, and in the middle of a cold winter and with 2014 now upon us, here is a look at how this year’s summer season could play out for the men:
Click here for a recap of the women's players to watch in 2014.
Novak Djokovic has been the best hard-court player in the world this decade, winning three Australian Open titles (2011-13) and playing in the final of four consecutive US Opens (2010-13). He has been a consistent performer in the Series, taking the title in 2012 and finishing in the Top 5 of the final Series standings in five of the last six years.
The 2010 Series champion and the runner-up in 2008 and 2009, Andy Murray has established himself as one of the elite hard-court players in the world. Like the other favorites, the 2012 US Open champion has fared well in Series events, having won twice each in Cincinnati and Montreal/Toronto.
Rafael Nadal swept the summer in 2013, taking the titles in Montreal, Cincinnati and at the US Open. The 2014 Australian Open finalist and world No. 1 has also reached the final at the US Open the last three times he has played – with two titles – and he and Andy Roddick are the only two-time men’s Series champions.
Juan Martin del Potro routinely plays in Washington, D.C., in addition to Cincinnati and Montreal/Toronto, giving him an extra opportunity to earn points toward the Series title. And to good effect. The 2009 US Open champion, who has finished in the Top 3 of the Series standings on three occasions (2008-09, 2013), has won in D.C. on three occasions.
As he showed at this year's Australian Open, 2007 Series champion Roger Federer remains a dangerous competitor and a legitimate title contender. He has finished in the Top 5 of the Series standings on six occasions, and his five US Open men’s singles titles are tied with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the Open era.
None of the top contenders will likely play in more Series events in 2014 than John Isner, who competed in all but Winston-Salem in 2013 en route to his third consecutive Top 3 Series finish. The 6-foot-9 American has also experienced great success on the summer circuit, winning at least one Series tournament title each of the last three years and reaching six finals in that span.
The 2013 US Open semifinalist and 2014 Australian Open champion, Stanislas Warinka has suddenly vaulted himself into the conversation as one of the best hard-court players in the world. The Swiss has never finished in the Top 5 in the Series standings, but he seems a solid pick to change that in 2014.
Grigor Dimitrov has long been hailed as a future Grand Slam champion and his all-court game is best suited to a breakthrough on hard courts. The 22-year-old Bulgarian made a run to the quarterfinals at this year's Australian Open, and he reached the quarterfinals in Washington, D.C., and the fourth round in Montreal in 2013.
Behind one of the biggest serves in men’s tennis, Jerzy Janowicz boomed his way to the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2013 and is ready to make his move on the hard courts this summer. He reached the round of 16 in Montreal last year, pushing Rafael Nadal in a closely contested two-setter.
2009 Series champion Sam Querrey remains a threat on his home soil, with a game best honed to hard courts. The Californian struggled a year ago, but he placed third in the Series standings in 2011 and owns three career tournament titles in Series events.
Another big server, Milos Raonic last year became the first native Canadian to reach the final in Montreal or Toronto since the Series’ inception, and he could be poised for bigger things in 2014. He finished fourth in last year’s Series standings and has won all five of his career ATP titles on hard courts.