Roger v Rafa: the renaissance continues in NY

27 August 2017 - 00:00 By skyports.com

Roger Federer and new world No1 Rafael Nadal will headline this year's final grand slam of the year in New York starting tomorrow and will believe they are well placed to continue their renaissance.
The pair have dominated the three previous major championships - Federer won in Melbourne, Australia, before claiming his 19th grand slam at Wimbledon while Nadal secured his 10th title at Roland Garros.
Their chances of further tightening their stranglehold over the coveted slams this year have been aided with the withdrawals of high-profile names in Flushing Meadows - Novak Djokovic has been ruled out for the rest of the season while defending champion Stan Wawrinka is absent through injury.
Andy Murray has missed the entirety of the American hard-court swing, recovering from a hip injury.
Federer last won at Flushing Meadows in 2008 when he defeated first-time finalist Murray while Nadal was last victorious in 2013 when the Spaniard proved too strong for Djokovic to claim his 13th slam title.
Nadal, who started the year struggling to overcome constant knee injury woes and just inside the world's top 10, has regained new vigour and put his name at the top of the rankings while Federer has managed his season in order to deliver his best performances.
So who can stop their control of the grand slams in 2017?
We take a look at three contenders...
Grigor Dimitrov
The Bulgarian will travel to New York full of confidence and buoyed by the knowledge he is beginning to regularly fulfil his undoubted talent on the big stage.
Dimitrov defeated Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-5 in the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati to claim his third ATP World Tour crown of 2017 and most significantly his maiden Masters 1000 title.
"I'm just happy and I'm humbled to have that trophy in my hands, and especially to win here, my first Masters 1000," said the 26-year-old.
"It's just amazing. I always like this tournament. I have played it quite a few times and always thought this can be maybe one of the first ones, and it is the first one."
There is no doubt that the career of the world No9 has taken an upturn in form since he paired up with Murray's former coach Dani Valverdu a year ago. The Venezuelan has brought focus and a calmness to the Dimitrov game and it's paying dividends.
"Going to the Open, it's for sure a lot of positivity with it, but the most important thing now is just to stay grounded, keep on doing the same work, believe in myself."
Alexander Zverev
The 20-year-old from Germany continues to impress despite an early loss in Cincinnati.
Prior to his defeat to Frances Tiafoe, Zverev had enjoyed a 10-match winning streak which included back-to-back titles at the Citi Open and the Coupe Rogers.
The #NextGenATP favourite has made a promising start to his partnership with former grand slam champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Zverev's impressive summer form has seen him jump to world No6 and become the first player to defeat Federer in a final this year.
Zverev is under no illusions about who are the favourites at Flushing Meadows.
He said: "I think Roger and Rafa are the strongest ones and a few guys coming after that. I think I am involved in that group. I am in that small group of players.
"So I feel very confident the way I was playing in the last two weeks. I feel very confident how I am playing right now. And I think going into the US Open, I feel the best I have ever felt maybe going into a slam."
Nick Kyrgios
The Australian has endured a tough summer but responded in fine fashion with a run to the final in Cincinnati.
Kyrgios, 22, retired injured in the opening round at Wimbledon before retiring from a second-round match against unheralded American Tennys Sandgren in Washington.
However, a few weeks later, he was celebrating reaching his maiden Masters 1000 final. "Gradually, I just feel back to where I should feel on a tennis court. I wasn't enjoying it at all, didn't want to be out there. External things were affecting how I was feeling. I feel great where I'm at right now."
Kyrgios, who continues to divide the tennis public despite his undoubted ability, will be aiming to improve on last year's third-round defeat in New York and improve on his career best run, the quarterfinals, at a slam.

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