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U.S. Open men players to watch

Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against

Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot against Andy Murray of Great Britain during the Men's Singles Tennis Gold Medal Match on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. (Aug. 5, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

ROGER FEDERER
Age 31, Switzerland
No. 1 Seed
The act you’ve known for all these years. Federer’s Wimbledon title last month gave him 17 major championships, adding to his record career total, and his recent play — his straight-sets loss to Andy Murray for the Olympic gold medal notwithstanding — continues to argue for his great good chances in this, his 54th consecutive Grand Slam event.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Age 25, Serbia
No. 2 Seed
His year pales only in comparison to 2011, when he won three of the four Slams and compiled an outrageous 70-6 match record. In 2012, Djokokic is 54-10, including titles at the Australian Open and the recent hardcourt event in Toronto. In 12 tournaments, he had been at least a semifinalist 11 times.

ANDY MURRAY
Age 25, Great Britain
No. 3 Seed
His Olympic victory over Federer has stirred old expectations that Murray at last will kick in the door and win his first major tournament, in his 27th try. He has been a semifinalist six times and runner-up four times, including the 2008 Open vs. Federer. He is 40-11 this year, with two event titles.

DAVID FERRER
Age 30, Spain
No. 4 Seed
A model of consistency over his 13-year-pro career, a pain in the neck for heavy favorites in every major tournament, Ferrer nevertheless had advanced as far as the semifinals only three times in 39 major-tournament appearances — including the 2007 Open and this year’s French Open. Theoretically, his style better suits clay courts.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA
Age 27, France
No. 5 Seed
He is plenty dangerous — athletic, with a big serve — but his Grand Slam history continues to be a just a notch below championship threat. He was once a major tournament runner-up (2008 Australian) and three times a semifinalist (2011 U.S., 2011 and 2012 Wimbledon). Still, injuries delayed his development, and he has been steadier recently.

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO
Age 23, Argentina
No. 7 Seed
Del Potro’s 2009 U.S. Open title is the only one, of the last 30 Grand Slam events, not won by either Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic. Subsequent surgery on his right wrist then sent him plummeting to No. 485 in the rankings, setting up a 2011 season in which he was named comeback player of the year.

JOHN ISNER
Age 27, USA
No. 9 Seed
Always to be remembered for that 70-68 fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 and a late bloomer after a college career at Georgia, the 6-9 Isner broke into the Top 10 for the first time in his five-year pro career and now is the top-ranked American. His serve still is his most impressive weapon. He enters Open with momentum after winning his second straight Winston-Salem title yesterday.

MILOS RAONIC
Age 21, Canada
No. 15 Seed
His serve has hit 150 miles per hour — thus “The Missile” nickname — and this Montenegro-born already is being advertised as the next new thing in men’s tennis. His Grand Slam results are so far humble — the Open is his eighth major and only once has he made the fourth round — but he currently is at his highest world ranking.

ANDY RODDICK
Age 29, USA
No. 20 Seed
The question is whether he will make it to Thursday, when he turns 30. Roddick admits to being ribbed by fellow pros with “bald jokes” and concedes that his physical style and age have resulted in too many injuries — currently a balky back. He is 19-14 this year and wishes he had more pre-Open matches.

MARDY FISH
Age 30, USA
No. 23 Seed
A racing heartbeat and subsequent surgical procedure curtailed his playing schedule, but Fish now insists he is feeling fresh and confident, a year after he hit his highest career ranking at No. 8. He twice has reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal (’08 U.S. Open and ’11 Wimbledon) and insists he is feeling optimistic.

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