NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top seed Novak
Djokovic and number two Roger Federer are favored to wage another title
showdown in the last grand slam of 2014, although some emerging young
guns have other ideas for the U.S. Open starting on Monday.
Djokovic and Federer's path to a championship clash could be less
troubled than usual with the absence of last yearís winner Rafa
Nadal due to a wrist injury, and the sub-par form of 2012 champion
Andy Murray since last yearís back surgery.
If the leading men star in the Arthur Ashe Stadium final, it would
provide a sequel to their five-set thriller at the All England Club
in which a teary-eyed Djokovic hoisted the Wimbledon trophy.
Both claim to be overdue for another taste of triumph at Flushing
Djokovic counts just one U.S. title (2011) in his haul of seven
grand slams despite reaching the Flushing Meadows final in each of
the last four years and five times overall.
Federer, 33, has five successive U.S. Open crowns from 2004 but has
gone without since. He extended his grand slam title record
collection to 17 by winning the 2012 Wimbledon, which stands as his
only slam triumph in his last 18 tries.
Lying in wait for another chance to spring a surprise and trumpet
their arrival on the main stage are promising players who made a big
splash in London.
Seeded fifth is hard-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, a Wimbledon
semi-finalist along with fellow 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov of
Bulgaria, seeded seventh in Flushing Meadows, where girlfriend Maria
Sharapova will likely be seen cheering him on.
Also hoping to follow up the fireworks he set off at the last major
is 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, who ousted Nadal in the
fourth round before falling to Raonic in the quarters at Wimbledon.
Among the veterans, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka of
Switzerland is seeded third ahead of Spaniard David Ferrer, with
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at number six, two places ahead
of Murray, who has shown hints of a return to form of late.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who beat Federer in the Rogers Cup
final in Toronto, holds the ninth seed while Japanís Kei Nishikori
rounds out the top 10 seeds.
The 27-year-old Djokovic has made some life changes since his last
appearance in New York, joining Federer as a family man four days
after his Wimbledon triumph when he married childhood sweetheart
Jelena Ristic, who is expecting their first child.
The honeymoon, however, may have affected the Serbianís preparation as the
outstanding hard court player, who owns four Australian Open titles on
the surface, has had a lackluster run-up to the Open with a pair of
fourth-round exits this summer.
World number one Djokovic has a long way to go to catch Federer both on
the grand slam wins chart and on the family front.
In May, Federerís wife, Mirka, gave birth to their second set of twins.
Leo and Lenny were born almost five years after the arrival of twin
sisters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.
Federer has enjoyed strong results this hard court season as runner-up
in Toronto and champion in Cincinnati, and the absence of Nadal should
improve his chances of getting back to the winnerís circle.
Nadal has been like Kryptonite to Federer, who has lost nine of their 11
career meetings in grand slams and trails in their overall head-to-head
Djokovic and Federer have had a much closer ledger with each player
winning six times in their grand slam encounters and the Swiss holding a
scant 18-17 edge in career meetings.
Federer has won three tournament titles in 2014, bringing his impressive
career haul to 80 victories, while the Serbian has claimed four
tournaments this year for 45 career tour wins.
A U.S. Open title for the Swiss elder, ranked third behind Djokovic and
Nadal, would vault him past the Spaniard into second in world rankings
and into first place in the ATP Race to London for the World Tour Finals
should Djokovic fail to reach the final.