With the 2012 U.S. Open under way, victories by Andy Murray and Andy Roddick have allowed tennis fans and pundits to analyze which men can gain entry into the Federer-Nadal-Djoković conversation of great men's tennis players.
Rafael Nadal is not playing in the 2012 U.S. Open, as he tries to overcome numerous injuries. Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Novak Djoković failed to garner a gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. In the past few years, there have been moments of brilliance by a few men. Andy Murray won the gold medal in London and Juan Martín Del Potro won the 2009 U.S. Open championship.
However, it has not been sustained, as the Federer-Nadal-Djoković dominance has been able to overcome injuries, challenges, and time. Yet, there are three players that might be ready to be a part of the conversation, as challengers to the trio's dominance.
Andy Murray won the Olympic gold medal in London during the Summer Olympics and lost to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Murray won his first-round match. However, he will have to reduce his double faults and do a better job of getting his first serve in against Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, or any of the other top competitors in the men's draw. During the Olympics, he was outstanding at the net. If he is able to get his first serve in and not give points away, then he might have a chance to make the U.S. Open Finals.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the potential to be a part of this conversation. However, he lost to Novak Djoković in the 2012 French Open after leading two sets to one with a chance to win the match. He has a tendency to collapse in key situations. He has a powerful serve with a tremendous baseline game, which has been vital to win the U.S. Open. His game is similar to Andy Roddick (2003 U.S. Open men's champion) and Juan Martín Del Potro (2009 U.S. Open men's champion). This tournament is critical for Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga, if he is going to be a part of the conversation as one of the best players on the men's side.
Juan Martín Del Potro
Juan Martín Del Potro won the 2009 U.S. Open championship. However, he has not been able to replicate the feat of winning another Grand Slam since that tournament. He won the bronze medal during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Del Potro is similar to Tsonga, as he is 6 feet 5 inches with a powerful serve and a strong two-handed backhand. His weaknesses are his conditioning late in tournaments and play around the net. If these weaknesses are offset, then he could win his second U.S. Open.
This could be the tournament that gives the three aforementioned men an opportunity to be a part of the conversation with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djoković. These players have all of the physical abilities to win tournaments. However, this tournament should show how competitive men's tennis is or how dominant the Federer-Nadal-Djoković trio still is.
Edwin Alexander has been following tennis since he was a child. He vividly remembers the run of Jimmy Connors in the 1991 U.S. Open.
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