For the vast majority of the 21st century, grand slam finals have largely been the domain of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Their dominance, shared somewhat with Andy Murray, has defined the modern era of the men's game. However, it has been most regularly interrupted at the US Open, which starts on Monday.

Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka have each prevailed in the past five years at Flushing Meadows, with Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro all reaching the final in that time.

The most likely outcome remains that the men's final will be contested by at least one of the big three but, ahead of the final major of 2019, we examine some of the contenders to gatecrash the showpiece.

Daniil Medvedev

The world number five is enjoying a breakthrough year and heads to Flushing Meadows as one of the form players on the ATP Tour. He reached successive finals at the Citi Open and Rogers Cup, easing past the likes of Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov en route to the showpiece of the latter.

His heavy 6-3 6-0 defeat to Nadal in that final may have provided cause for reticence. However, Medvedev continued his outstanding US hard-court swing by coming from a set down to defeat Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open, before going on to beat David Goffin in the final.

His fightback against the best player in the world should raise confidence he can upset the established order. It will be tougher over five sets but on current form Medvedev appears the most credible threat to the big three.

Karen Khachanov

Khachanov's year has not been quite as impressive as his Russian compatriot Medvedev. However, he too resides in the top 10 and has a victory over Djokovic to his name, having beaten the Serbian in the Paris Masters final last year.

He was impressive in seeing off Stan Wawrinka, rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev at the Rogers Cup and showed signs he could form a grand slam challenge at his run to the quarter-finals of the French Open this year.

Marat Safin, the last Russian man to win a grand slam, was Khachanov's idol growing up. He has the game to potentially emulate his hero, but a 1-8 record against the big three will leave plenty sceptical of his prospects.

Dominic Thiem

Though not in the same vein of form as Medvedev, Thiem deserves his place on the list having been the most consistent challenger to Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in recent times.

He has reached the last two French Open finals, losing to Nadal on each occasion. However, he defeated Djokovic in five sets at Roland Garros this year and played at a level in the final that would have seen him victorious were he facing anyone other than the 'King of Clay'.

The hard court provides more of a level playing field and Nadal needed a tie-break to beat him in five sets in the quarter-final at Flushing Meadows in 2018. Thiem also holds a 4-2 record against Federer, whom he beat at Indian Wells this year. 

Eventually, Thiem's persistence in pushing this legendary trio to the limit will pay off and there is plenty of evidence to suggest the US Open could be the stage on which he reaps his rewards.

Roberto Bautista Agut

While the other four names on this list have their best years ahead of them, Bautista Agut is arguably enjoying an elongated peak.

He was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, where he showed his endurance with three five-set victories and pushed Djokovic to four sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The 31-year-old has since found some consistency on the hard court, reaching the last eight in Montreal and Cincinnati, and came from a set down to beat Djokovic in Miami back in March.

That win, however, marked his only success against a big-three opponent. Bautista Agut has proven he can reach the latter stages of majors but, if the draw does not somehow open up for him, would need to overcome the history books to earn a first slam final berth.

Lucas Pouille

Pouille's thrilling 2016 fourth-round triumph over Nadal at Flushing Meadows had the look of a breakthrough moment for the Frenchman, but since then he has not been able to record a single victory over the Spaniard, Djokovic or Federer.

The 25-year-old does, however, seem to enjoy himself on the hard court, securing the best slam result of his career on the surface as he progressed to the last four at the Australian Open before running into a rampant Djokovic.

He beat Khachanov before being thumped by Djokovic in Cincinnati and, though he has endured an inconsistent year, the high-points Pouille has experienced should leave him with nobody to fear outside of the three favourites. 

Pouille is unquestionably an outsider, but if he can harness the form that saw him stun Nadal then he can at least afford to have hope of pulling off another shock and giving France a grand slam finalist to celebrate.

Flushing Meadows was abuzz with excitement at the news Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet in round one of the US Open.

Thursday's draw threw up an absolute humdinger of a tie between two of the greatest and most recognisable tennis stars of all time.

But there are plenty of other eye-catching matches in the first round of the final grand slam of 2019.

Below we have picked out six of the best to watch in New York.


SERENA WILLIAMS V MARIA SHARAPOVA

Undoubtedly the stand-out tie in the entire draw. There is little love lost between the two long-term foes, but the rivalry has been extremely one-sided. Sharapova's last prevailed against Williams way back in 2004 and, while the two have never faced off at the US Open, the Russian will need to roll back the years to end the drought.

ARYNA SABALENKA v VICTORIA AZARENKA

Sabalenka can be forgiven for cursing her luck at landing a daunting first-round tie with Belarus compatriot Azarenka, who she has never met in a competitive match. In a year that has seen her reach a career-high ranking of nine, a position she currently holds, a meeting with the former world number one straight out of the gate is not what she would have wanted as she aims to go beyond round four of a slam for the first time.

ALISON RISKE v GARBINE MUGURUZA

Two-time slam winner Muguruza faces a Riske-y tie in the opening round. The 29-year-old Riske has been consistently in the top 50 over the past six years and won the pair's past meeting in Tokyo in 2018.

RAFAEL NADAL v JOHN MILLMAN

On the face of it, this looks a complete mismatch, particularly as Nadal won their only competitive meeting at Wimbledon in 2017. But Australian Millman caused a mammoth upset at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago when he defeated Roger Federer to make the quarter-finals – his best result at a grand slam. He will be hoping for a repeat against three-time victor Nadal.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV v FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME

In a nice coincidence, two of Canada's finest young stars meet in a repeat of a 2018 first-round tie. On that occasion, Shapovalov consoled his good friend with a big hug after Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire in the third set with the opening two having been shared. Both men have been tipped for big futures and this one could be a cracker.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS v ANDREY RUBLEV

Tsitsipas' season has stalled after a brilliant start to 2019 that saw him reach the Australian Open semi-finals, where Nadal proved too big of a hurdle to overcome. A first-round defeat at Wimbledon was the precursor to a difficult hard-court warm-up for the Big Apple, which saw early exits in Montreal and Cincinnati – albeit he did reach the last four in Washington. Rublev was a quarter-finalist in Cincinnati, losing only to in-form Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev, and as a fellow star of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals he will fancy his chances of an upset.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova face a mouthwatering first-round tie at the US Open, while Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the men's draw as Roger Federer.

Williams will be a heavy favourite given her 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, though it will be the first time the rivals have gone up against each other in New York.

The pair last met on court in the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals, where Williams was victorious, with a last-16 tie at the 2018 French Open a non-starter due to the American suffering a pectoral injury.

Sharapova has not defeated her illustrious foe in a match since 2004 and faces a monumental challenge against Williams, who was beaten in the final 12 months ago by Naomi Osaka.

Top seed Osaka's bid to defend her title at Flushing Meadows begins against Anna Blinkova, while Kiki Bertens is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Second seed Ashleigh Barty, who made a major breakthrough at Roland Garros, opens up against Zarina Diyas and faces a potential last-eight meeting with Williams.

Karolina Pliskova (3) and Simona Halep (4) each face qualifiers in round one, the latter on a potential last-eight collision course with Petra Kvitova (6). 

Defending men's champion Djokovic, aiming to win a third slam of 2019, faces the unheralded Roberto Carballes Baena first but could be set for a daunting run at Flushing Meadows.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, a man in form having reached the finals in Washington and Montreal while also winning the title in Cincinnati, is Djokovic's projected quarter-final opponent, while Federer may stand in the way in the semis.

Five-time champion Federer faces a qualifier first up, while on the other side of the draw Rafael Nadal has a tricky first-round tie with John Millman – who upset Federer in round four a year ago.

Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev could all prove potential road blocks for Nadal in the latter stages.

Coco Gauff built momentum ahead of the US Open by beating Ashleigh Barty in "the calm before the storm" on Wednesday.

Gauff, 15, surged into the limelight by becoming the youngest player in the Open era to advance through Wimbledon qualifying, before beating Venus Williams en route to reaching the fourth round in her first main-draw appearance at a major.

The teenager, who has been awarded a US Open wildcard, took on French Open champion and world number two Barty in an exhibition match during the ATP Tour's Winston-Salem Open and triumphed 6-4 2-6 10-8.

Gauff won four straight games as she took the first set, but the Australian hit back by taking a 3-0 lead in the second that helped her level the contest.

The super tie-break saw Gauff emerge triumphant and she was pleased to have got a solid win under her belt ahead of a first main-draw appearance in her home grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

"It was super fun. It's different to kinda play in an atmosphere like that and not be in a tournament. It was cool to play with Ash and hopefully we can do it again sometime," said Gauff.

"I'm kind of sad to leave [Winston-Salem] because New York is busy but it was good to get the calm before the storm."

Barty added: "It was a lot of fun. Coming here this week was the perfect way to prepare in a relaxing environment and have a little fun. The crowd was truly engaged and it was just the perfect way to get ready for the Open."

The final grand slam tournament of the year is almost here, as the US Open begins at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Novak Djokovic, the dominant force in men's tennis, will hope to defend his title, while Naomi Osaka is looking to rediscover her best major form at the scene of her first triumph.

Meanwhile, veterans Roger Federer and Serena Williams have records in their sights in New York.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the key numbers heading into this year's US Open.

 

Men's singles

4 - Djokovic has won four of the past five grand slams – Rafael Nadal claiming the only other title at this year's French Open.

2 - World number one Djokovic is bidding to become just the second man, after Federer (2004 to 2008), to defend his Flushing Meadows title in the 21st century.

35 - The oldest men's US Open champion in the Open Era was Ken Rosewall in 1970 at 35 years, 10 months and 11 days. Federer will be 38 at Flushing Meadows.

5 - Three men have won the tournament a record five times since the sport went professional: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Federer.

8 - Djokovic only has three US Open titles but has played the joint-most finals in the Open Era (eight, along with Ivan Lendl and Sampras).

0 - The US Open is the only one of the four men's grand slams that has not seen a player claim the title without dropping a set in the Open Era.

61 - At least one of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal has made the semi-finals of every major since Wimbledon 2004, a streak of 61 tournaments.

 

Women's singles

3 - Having won back-to-back majors in the shape of last year's US Open and then the Australian Open, Osaka has not been past the third round at her past two grand slams, losing her opener at Wimbledon.

1 - But across the previous 16 grand slams, Osaka is the only female to have won consecutive titles.

33 - Williams, like Federer in the men's tournament, is aiming to become the oldest women's US Open champion of the Open Era at 37. The record belongs to 2015 champion Flavia Pennetta at 33 years, six months and 18 days.

2 - Simona Halep could become the first European since Kim Clijsters (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open) to win consecutive grand slams.

24 - Williams has 23 grand slam crowns, the most of the Open Era, and another would see her draw level with all-time record holder Margaret Court.

10 - However, the American has not won any of the past 10 majors - her longest run without victory since 2002.

17 - The women's championship has been won without dropping a set on 17 occasions in the Open Era, most recently by Williams in 2014.

American teenager Amanda Anisimova has pulled out of the US Open after her father died.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) confirmed the news and said it sent its "deepest condolences" to Anisimova, with fellow players also expressing sadness over the death.

Russian-born Konstantin Anisimov played a key role in coaching his 17-year-old daughter, who reached the French Open semi-finals in June.

No details of his death have been given.

Anisimova is ranked 24th by the WTA, climbing rapidly after beginning the year as the world number 95.

Fellow American teenager Coco Gauff, who Anisimova beat in the girls' singles final at the 2017 US Open, wrote on Twitter: "Deepest condolences to the Anisimova family during this tragic time"

Maria Sharapova was another to express her sorrow at the news.

Anisimova has been out of action recently because of a back injury but was hoping to play the final grand slam of the year.

The tournament begins next Monday, August 26, at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York.

Andy Murray has announced he will not compete at the US Open after deciding not to play in the doubles competition.

The former world number one had already ruled himself out of the singles and on Friday he confirmed he would not take part at Flushing Meadows at all.

Murray, who won the tournament in 2012, said his focus would now fall squarely on the singles discipline after making several doubles and mixed doubles outings on his road to recovery from hip surgery, including appearing alongside Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

"I'm not going to play doubles at the US Open," the Briton, who will play singles at Winston-Salem next week, told BBC Sport.

"My goal is to get back playing at the level that I want to on the singles court, and I've decided that I need to focus all my energies on that right now.

"The US Open, doubles and mixed, can be another couple of weeks that you are slowing things down."

Murray underwent a hip operation in January and has been carefully managing his schedule ever since, with retirement having been on the cards before the procedure.

"It doesn't feel like I need to play the main draw of every single tour event," he said.

"I've hardly played the last couple of years and, having discussed with my team, after this week I think doubles is done for me for the time being.

"I need to focus my mind on getting matches on the singles court. There aren't many tournaments between now and the end of the year."

The US Open begins on August 26.

Former champion Juan Martin del Potro has withdrawn from the US Open as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

Del Potro, 30, underwent successful surgery on a fractured right kneecap in June and the Argentinian will miss the year's final grand slam.

The 2009 champion and last year's runner-up at Flushing Meadows, Del Potro's career has been ruined by wrist injuries and the US Open marks the third major he will miss in 2019.

Del Potro, ranked 12th in the world, returned to the top 10 in the rankings in January 2018 after three and a half years.

The US Open has been Del Potro's best grand slam, where he holds a 35-9 win-loss record to go with his two finals appearances.

Denis Kudla moves into the main draw in New York, with Chris Eubanks receiving the wildcard initially given to his American compatriot.

Former champion Andy Murray has revealed he regrets not asking for a place in the US Open qualifiers.

The Scot, who took the title at Flushing Meadows in 2012 by beating Novak Djokovic, turned down a place in the main draw because of concern over how he would handle a five-set match.

The offer of a wildcard was tempting for Murray, who is carefully managing his comeback from hip resurfacing surgery and has largely focused on doubles matches so far.

Murray, 32, wanted to prove he could be competitive in singles before accepting such an invitation.

He lost 6-4 6-4 to France's Richard Gasquet on his singles return on Monday in Cincinnati, and had already told US Open organisers he would not be taking up their invitation.

The Gasquet match was Murray's first in singles since the Australian Open in January, when his career looked to be in jeopardy.

By Tuesday, Murray had realised he had overlooked an ideal opportunity to prove his match fitness in New York, with three best-of-three sets qualifying matches for the grand slam event likely to have proven a perfect test of the state of his game.

He told BBC Sport: "I don't know why we didn't really think of it, but it just never crossed my mind until this morning.

"When I woke up, I was like – I want to play three-set matches. I could maybe test myself there, and if I got through qualifying that might show that I'm ready to play there. But too late, unfortunately."

Murray and Spain's Feliciano Lopez notched a doubles win at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, beating Romanian Horia Tecau and Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer 3-6 6-3 10-3 in the first round.

Coco Gauff will have the opportunity to build on her sensational Wimbledon run after being handed a wildcard at the US Open.

The 15-year-old lit up the All England Club with a run to the fourth round, beating Venus Williams before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep.

There are limits to the number of tournaments Gauff can enter due to her age, yet she has been granted a spot at Flushing Meadows.

Gauff last year won the girls' doubles at the US Open alongside Caty McNally, who has also been given a wildcard.

The teenage duo linked up again to win the women's doubles at Citi Open earlier this month.

McNally reached the main draw at Wimbledon, too, and is joined by two other 17-year-old American wildcards in Whitney Osuigwe and Katie Volynets.

Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, has also been invited this year.

Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray said he needs time to get back to his best after opting not to play singles at the upcoming US Open.

Murray made his long-awaited singles comeback at the Western & Southern Open, where he lost 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in the first round on Monday.

It was Murray's first singles match since the Australian Open in January after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, which left the former world number one's stellar career in serious doubt.

Despite his return to the singles circuit, Murray will skip the US Open, though the 32-year-old plans to play in both the doubles and mixed doubles at Flushing Meadows.

"We were hoping to maybe hold a wild card until a little bit closer to the time to see how I feel and get some matches hopefully and a bit of practice," Murray – the 2012 US Open champion – said.

"[It was] a decision I made with my team. I didn't want to take a wild card today because I just didn't know how I was going to feel after a match. I felt like I wanted to be fair for me to maybe try and get a couple of matches in before making a decision like that."

Murray, who looked rusty against Gasquet, added: "If I would have taken the wild card and then not played, then I would have been getting loads of questions about my hip and, 'Why has he turned it down? Is something wrong? What's the problem?'

"It was more likely that I was not going to [play], because although I did fine in the match today, physically, my legs felt quite heavy at the end of the match, and that's probably not going to change a whole lot in a couple of weeks."

Murray, who won the doubles title with Feliciano Lopez on his return to the ATP Tour at Queen's Club in June, continued: "I just haven't played a match for seven months. I hardly played before then, either. I haven't played many matches in the past 18 months, really. It's going to take time, and I haven't been practising lots of singles until recently.

"I need time, and it's not going to come back in one week or one tournament. It's been a long process to get here, but to get back maybe to where I want to get is going to take a lot of time and a lot more work."

"My mentality changed a lot because I wasn't in pain anymore. And I was always worried, 'What will I do with myself without tennis?' But actually, once I got rid of the pain, I realised I didn't really need tennis. Tennis wasn't the most important thing for me," Murray said.

"I'm obviously happy to be back playing. I thought it maybe would have changed my perspective completely on things, but I'm sitting here disappointed, which I think is probably a good thing, and if I want to get back to playing at a high level, if I was sort of just happy to be back on the court and not really worried about the outcome, then I'd be a bit maybe concerned about that."

Andy Murray ruled out playing in the US Open singles after losing to Richard Gasquet in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday.

Murray went down 6-4 6-4 to Gasquet in his first singles match since January after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, which left his career in doubt.

The three-time grand slam champion was rusty and struggled with his serve just a fortnight before the final grand slam of the year starts at Flushing Meadows.

Murray later revealed that he will not be in the singles field in New York but plans to play in both the doubles and mixed doubles. 

The former world number one stated that he may compete in the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina next week as he eases his way back.

Murray, 32, won the doubles title with Feliciano Lopez on his return to the ATP Tour at Queen's Club in June.

He also played with Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the men's doubles at Wimbledon and formed a mixed-doubles dream team with Serena Williams in his home major.

Murray will link up with Lopez again in Cincinnati this week after his loss to Gasquet, having partnered the Spaniard at the Rogers Cup last week following a couple of matches with his brother, Jamie, at the Citi Open.

Bernard Tomic has failed to recoup the prize money he was docked at Wimbledon and the Australian was also hit with a verbal volley from the Grand Slam board.

Tomic had to hand back the £45,000 he was given for a 6-2 6-1 6-4 first-round thumping by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the All England Club this month due to a perceived lack of effort.

The world number 103 was dispatched by Tsonga in just 58 minutes - the shortest men's singles match at SW19 in 15 years - but Tomic stressed afterwards he was trying.

Tomic challenged the decision to take his prize purse off him, but not only was he unsuccessful with that appeal, he was also given a ticking off. 

Two years ago, the 26-year-old was also fined $15,000 (£11,581) after admitting he was "bored" in an opening-round loss to Mischa Zverev in the grass-court major.

Grand slam board director Bill Babcock wrote in a verdict letter that was published by the New York Times: "A review of your historical record of misconduct at grand slams, never mind elsewhere, provides little justification for an adjustment.

"In your case, Bernard, I am sure you would agree there is no historical evidence to give comfort to the theory that you can reform your behaviour."

Babcock added that Tomic will be refunded 25 per cent of his fine should he avoid a sanction in his next eight grand slam events.

However, Tomic intends to appeal the decision further, telling the New York Times: "I don't care about this 25 percent; I care about the right thing for players in the future."

Tim Henman believes Novak Djokovic can top Roger Federer's record grand slam haul after the Serbian beat the Swiss great in a historic Wimbledon final.

Djokovic retained his title at the All England Club with a 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) victory last Sunday.

The world number one saved two match points before winning the longest singles final in the grass-court grand slam, in the first edition of the tournament since deciding-set tie-breaks were introduced at SW19.

Djokovic has won four of the last five major titles to move four behind Federer's record tally of 20 and two short of Rafael Nadal's total.

Henman, a six-time grand slam semi-finalist, thinks 32-year-old Djokovic could go on to surpass Nadal and Federer's haul of major triumphs.

The Brit, a HSBC ambassador, told Omnisport: "It's going to be very interesting to watch. He's [Djokovic] five years younger than Federer so he's got much more time on his side.

"The level of play that Djokovic is at right now, it really wouldn't surprise me if he did overtake Federer in the future."

Henman feels Federer, who turns 38 next month, has at least one more grand slam victory in him.

Asked if he thinks the epic final in London was Federer's last chance to win another major, he said: "I don't think so. I think it's very difficult to write these guys off that are playing at such a high level.

"Federer's not going to be around forever but I think it's important we all enjoy him while he's still playing."

Henman does not consider the classic showdown last weekend to be the greatest final he has seen, even if it ranks high up with his favourites.

He said: "It's got to be up there as one of the best finals of all time. I still think for me the 2008 Wimbledon final [between] Nadal and Federer was probably the best match I've ever seen but this was a close second."

 

- Tim Henman was talking on behalf of The Open patron HSBC. HSBC are once again offering free golf to children and their friends via the HSBC Hour which are taking place at over 500 clubs in the UK and Ireland. For more information, please visit: https://www.theopen.com/patrons/hsbc

Novak Djokovic has described his sensational Wimbledon final victory over Roger Federer as "a match to remember forever".

Djokovic claimed his 16th grand slam title on Sunday, overcoming fellow great Federer in the longest men's singles final at the All England Club.

For the first time, a fifth-set tie-break at 12 games all was required to determine the winner, with the defending champion eventually prevailing after saving two match points earlier in the contest.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Djokovic wrote: "It was a match to remember forever. [A] match that had everything in it. [A] match that transcends our sport. I am eternally grateful to be part of it. Major respect to Roger for a titan fight."

After struggling for form and fitness in the wake of his 2016 French Open triumph, which ensured he held all four slam titles at once, Djokovic has dominated at the highest level once again since winning Wimbledon last year.

He has now won four of the last five slams, only failing to succeed at Roland Garros.

"It has been quite a tennis journey for me in the last 12 months. Coming back from injury and trying to get to the level of tennis which would allow me to compete for slams," Djokovic added.

"Self belief, resilience, dedication and major support from my closest people in life allowed me to be where I am today. I am blessed and I am aware of it.

"Wimbledon, it has been a great pleasure to make history and share the court with [a] legend of our sport once more. I will keep on dreaming to still be part of these memorable moments in the future. By the way, grass tasted like never before."

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