NEW YORK — This might be the year to expect some surprises at the U.S. Open.
This summer has been jam-packed with the insertion of the Olympics into the short space between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. And because the Olympic tournament was played on Wimbledon’s grass courts, hard-court preparation time has been compacted even more.
“Look at the women right now,” Evert said. “Maria Sharapova, she pulled out of two tournaments because of a virus. I think the players already have shown signs of fatigue.”
Brad Gilbert, another former player and ESPN commentator, agreed with Evert. “I think the hardest transition is going from grass to hard court because hard court, it’s the surface that’s the toughest on your body.
Djokovic, the defending men’s champion and seeded No. 2 this year, flew straight from London to Toronto after losing the bronze-medal match at the Olympics. He played six matches in Canada and won the tournament, then flew to Cincinnati and lost in the final to Roger Federer. Of the loss, Djokovic said, “Mentally, I wasn’t there, I wasn’t fresh. It’s been a very busy time and maybe that caught up with me at the end.”
The top-seeded man, Federer, begins his quest for his sixth Open title and first since 2008 on Monday. He will play American Donald Young in a night match, just after three-time champion Kim Clijsters, who is retiring after this season, plays American Victoria Duval.
Rafael Nadal, the 2010 Open winner and owner of 11 major titles, is out of this Open because of the same knee injury that caused him to skip the Olympics after his second-round loss at Wimbledon.
A beneficiary of Nadal’s absence might be American John Isner, who is seeded ninth and is in the quarter of the draw led by fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer.
Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray, in some combination, have appeared in the men’s finals of the last eight majors — Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
Also what doesn’t change is the expectation that fourth-seeded Serena Williams will contend for her fourthOpen title and 15th major. She is coming off decisive championship performances at Wimbledon and the Olympics. Williams, who hasn’t won here since 2008, said she isn’t tired at all.
“I look forward to this,” she said. “It’s almost like a launching pad for what I want to do for the rest of the hard-court season.”