U.S. Open Update: Serena Chases Calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic, Federer, And Murray To Face Difficult Battles

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams at the Western & Southern Open

U.S. Open 2015 officially gets underway on Monday, but here’s a few things you need to know before the year’s final grand slam event kicks off.

Serena Williams Could Make History

If Serena Williams wins the title at the U.S. Open she would have won every grand slam during the 2015 calendar year. She’s already won all the grand slams at some point but this would be the first time that she would have done it all in the same calendar year. A feat last completed by Steffi Graf way back in 1988.

She won the Australian Open by beating Maria Sharapova. She took home the French Open trophy by besting Lucie Šafářová. And the Wimbledon crown went to her with a win over Garbiñe Muguruza.

Of course, Williams has competition in the likes of Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniaki, Petra Kvitova, Lucie Šafářová, and many others, but there’s a lot on the line with this title and it’s really hard to discount Serena when there’s so much at stake. She’s playing as well as she has been and she’s focused. Williams told WTA News how she’s keeping that focus.

“I’m trying to stay away from stress. I’m trying to minimize what I do, because I just want to play tennis. I don’t necessarily want to hear about, oh, this history and that history, because I just want to do the best I can. I want to be able to win, and I don’t want any distractions.”

Novak Djokovic Is The Favorite

The Bleacher Report predicts Djokovic will be kissing the U.S. Open trophy on September 13. But that, by no means, doesn’t suggest he won’t face stiff competition for the crown.

He’s had a good year, and the only reason he’s not heading for the same historic event as Williams is because of a blip at the French Open where he lost to Stan Wawrinka. But he’s feeling good about his game now and about this particular venue.

“It’s probably my best Grand Slam. Since I played my first U.S. Open main draw [in 2005], in 2007 I played the first final, and ever since then I’ve been reaching at least the semifinals. That says something about my game and my results there. But, of course, I didn’t manage to make that final step many times — only once, in 2011. I’m going there with that thought in my mind: I like the surface, I like the conditions, I like playing in Arthur Ashe, it’s the biggest stadium in the sport. With all the achievements this year so far behind me, I think I’m in a very good position to go far.”

However, that said, Federer did best him just last week at the Western & Southern Open, and he did it in a decisive and aggressive fashion — in straight sets. His win did two very important things: it told Djokovic and all his other opponents that, despite his age, he’s not going away any time soon and he’s more than capable of continuing to compete at an incredibly high level, and it secured him the number 2 seed which means he won’t have to meet Djokovic unless they both make it to the final.

The difficulty for the five-time U.S. Open winner is the two-week run in the best of five set grand slam. If Federer doesn’t win all of his early matches in straight sets, will he have enough left to carry him through the second week when the competition will certainly be fierce.

Andy Murray will have to face off against a tough opponent in the first round in troubled Aussie Nick Kyrgios, but he’s coming off a win at the Rogers Cup so he’s got to be feeling pretty good about his game.

No one seems to be talking much about Rafael Nadal, perhaps rightly so — the beleaguered Spaniard has had a very difficult year beset with a lack of confidence and inconsistency. But Nadal has said he’s feeling better about his game, so it’s hard to completely count out the 14-time grand slam winner.

Though if all goes according to the draw, he’d have to make it through Djokovic in the quarterfinal. A tall order.

But Before The Tournament Starts, There’s Still Time For Some Fun

As part of her warm-up for the upcoming tension of the U.S. Open, Serena took part in the second annual Delta-sponsored Karaoke event. In an interview with Associated Press, Williams revealed that she was more concerned about her song choice than her tennis game.

She ended up making a last-minute decision and surprised the audience with Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.

Nadal loosened up his muscles at a little pre-tournament game of “strip tennis” that had him playing in 90-degree heat in a fully tailored Tommy Hilfiger suit, as part of his stint as the global ambassador for Hilfiger.

[Image courtesy Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]