Like all Grand Slam tournaments, the U.S. Open men's draw is made up of 128 of the world's best competitors, with the winner needing to make it through seven grueling matches to hoist the trophy at the end of it all. Still, despite the best efforts of opposing pro players, these tournaments almost always seem to come down to the same guys, commonly known as the Big Four: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray. Their collective run of dominance—particularly by Federer and Nadal in the 2000s, has been unprecedented in the ultracompetitive modern world of sports, and has lasted just over a decade. Since the start of 2004, these four have won 39 of the last 43 Slams, 24 of which came down to Finals between two of the rivals (including 14 of the last 16).
All that said, Nadal won’t be around for this one due to injury. So, with Nadal out of the bracket, can Djokovic feed off his triumph at Wimbledon last month? Can Murray return to the form he was in for the 2012 and ’13 seasons? Or does Federer still have one more big win in the tank? Of course, there are plenty of other competitors vying for the title too (125 to be exact), but we’ll try to keep it simple in this preview.