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U.S. Open notebook: Rafael Nadal's void

If No. 1 seeded man Rafael Nadal can win his first U.S. Open, he would become the seventh man in history to win all four Grand Slam titles in his career, and it would be his ninth career Slam. What's notable about Nadal's record is that, of the 11 men who have won three of the four titles, he is the only one missing a U.S. Open.

All the rest struggled either with the red clay surface at Roland Garros in the French Open or with Wimbledon's grass surface. Some thought Nadal, a top clay-court player from Spain, would never win at Wimbledon, but he broke through in 2008 and won again this year after missing the 2009 tournament with an injury.

The six men who have won career Grand Slams include Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Roger Federer, Rod Laver and Fred Perry. Budge in 1938 and Laver in 1962 and 1969 completed the Slam in a calendar year.

Here's the list of 10 others besides Nadal who won three of the four titles with the one they are missing in parentheses and the date they reached the final in that tournament, if ever: Arthur Ashe (French), Boris Becker (French), Jimmy Connors (French), Stefan Edberg (French, 1989), Ivan Lendl (Wimbledon, 1986, '87), John Newcombe (French), Ken Rosewall (Wimbledon, 1954, '56, '70, '74), Pete Sampras (French), Guillermo Vilas (Wimbledon), Mats Wilander (Wimbledon).

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Federer is going for his sixth U.S. Open title to equal the six he has won at Wimbledon. The most U.S. titles won is seven by Richard Sears (1881-87), Bill Larned (1901-02, 1907-11) and Bill Tilden (1920-25, 1929). If second-seeded Federer wins, it would extend his men's record for Grand Slams to 17 and close the gap on the five women with more Grand Slam singles titles, including Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22), Helen Wills Moody (19), Chris Evert (18) and Martina Navratilova (18).

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Besides Nadal (8) and Federer (16), four other men in the draw have won a Grand Slam singles title, including Bovak Djokovic (1), Juan Carlos Ferrero (1), Lleyton Hewitt (2) and Andy Roddick (1). Of the 51 men who have won Grand Slam singles since the Open Era began in 1968, 25 won only one GS title. Of those 51, 22 won the U.S. open at least once topped by Connors (5), Sampras (5) and Federer (5). Other multiple winners include John McEnroe (4), Lendl (3), Agassi (2), Edberg (2) and Patrick Rafter (2).

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The last American to win the U.S. Open? That would be Roddick in 2003.

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Injuries to Serena Williams and Justine Henin that caused them to drop out of the Open robbed the women's draw of two of the top three players in terms of Grand Slam singles titles, including Williams' 13 and Henin's seven. That leaves Venus Williams (7) as the woman in the field with the most Slams followed by Maria Sharapova (3), Kim Clijsters (2), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2), Ana Ivanovic (1) and Francesca Schiavone (1).

As a result of the injury to Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki became the eighth different No. 1 seed in the past nine years in the women's draw. Henin was No. 1 in 2004 and '07, when she won. The only other No. 1 to win during that span was Serena Williams in 2002. The last woman to be top seed in consecutive years was Martina Hingis (1997-2001), who was listed by Wozniacki as one of her role models along with Graf.

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Defending women's singles champion Clijsters, who defeated Wozniacki in the final, comes to the Open with a 14-match winning streak at the National Tennis Center because she also won in 2005 before missing the next three Opens while taking time off to start a family. Clijsters actually has won 20 of her past 21 U.S. Open matches because she was a finalist in 2003 (she did not play in 2004).

The longest winning streak for a woman at the U.S. Open is 46 by Moody (1927-33). Next on the list are Evert Lloyd (31, 1975-79), Helen Jacobs (28, 1932-36), a three-way tie at 20 for Margaret Osborne duPont (1948-50), Navratilova (1983-85) and Venus Williams (2000-02) followed by Graf (19, 1988-90).

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If Venus Williams wins her opening-round match tonight against Roberta Vinci, she will break a tie with sister Serena for the most singles wins at Grand Slam tournaments. At the moment, they each have 199, but Serena (199-30) has the better percentage compared to Venus (199-43).

They are fifth on the all-time list behind Navratilova (306-49), Evert (299-37), Graf (278-32) and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (210-54).


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