Five men to watch at the US Open tennis tournament that begins Monday at Flushing Meadows:
World number one Djokovic will try to become the first back-to-back US Open men's singles champion since Roger Federer won five in a row from 2004-2008. The 32-year-old Serbian has won four of the past five Grand Slam singles crowns, missing out only at the French Open after a semi-final loss to Dominic Thiem, and captured 16 career Slam singles titles, four shy of matching Federer's all-time men's record. He won US Open titles in 2011 and 2015 as well as last year.
The 33-year-old Spanish left-hander seized his 12th French Open title in June and comes to New York ranked second in the world and seeking his fourth title in 10 years on the Flushing Meadows hard-courts after 2010, 2013 and 2017. His 18 Grand Slam titles are two shy of Roger Federer's career men's record of 20. Nadal lost to Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals last month but won his only US Open hard-court tune-up event at Montreal.
The 38-year-old Swiss world number three lost to Djokovic in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last month, the longest championship match in tournament history at four hours and 57 minutes. He lost in the third round at Cincinnati to Andrey Rublev in 62 minutes, his quickest loss in 16 years, in his only US Open hard-court tune-up event. Federer owns a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles but he hasn't won a major trophy since lifting the 2018 Australian Open hardware. He hasn't won a US Open title since taking five in a row from 2004-2008, his longest current title drought at any Slam.
The 23-year-old Russian had the finest hard-court run of any ATP player ahead of the US Open, reaching the final at Washington and Montreal and winning his fifth career tour title at Cincinnati. He lost to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Washington final and Nadal in the Montreal final then defeated David Goffin in the Cincinnati final, jumping three spots to fifth in the world rankings. His only prior ATP titles came last year in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Japan and this year in Sofia. His best Grand Slam run came in January with a spot in the fourth round at the Australian Open. His top US Open showing was a berth in last year's third round.
The 31-year-old Spaniard is enjoying a breakthrough year and hoping to reach his first Grand Slam final in the season's final major tournament. Bautista Agut cracked the ATP world top 10 for the first time on Monday by reaching 10th in the rankings. He reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at this year's Australian Open, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas, and his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, losing to eventual champion Djokovic. In his US Open tuneups, he lost quarter-final matches at Montreal and Cincinnati.