For Juan Martin del Potro, naming his favourite US Open memory can be a tough task. In 2009, the Argentine ended Roger Federer’s 41-match win streak in New York to win his maiden Grand Slam title.
Last year, Del Potro, down two sets to zero and battling a flu and a fever, came back to beat Dominic Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals. Then Del Potro knocked out Federer again to reach the last four in New York for only the second time (l. to Nadal).
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“It was a great battle,” Del Potro said of last year’s Thiem match. “I have a few good memories playing this tournament. One is that match. Then when I obviously won the title in 2009. But every year is different. I have friends coming to watch me here, so will be a little bit special this tournament for me, and what I said, I will try to enjoy the atmosphere that the people create in New York and then play my best tennis.”
Del Potro will try to create more memories during his 10th US Open, nine years after his his first and still only Grand Slam title. His wrist surgeries that hampered him years ago are a thing of the past, though, and Del Potro is eager for another deep run in Flushing Meadows.
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“I’m feeling good. I’m in good shape. As everybody knows, this is my favourite tournament on tour, which I have big expectations playing in New York. I’m very excited to start of the tournament, and on Monday will be against a qualifier player, but I will try to enjoy as always I did in this tournament and then see if I can go far,” he said.
“I think it’s amazing for me just thinking about tennis, don’t talk anymore about the injuries, which is the most important thing to myself and come to this tournament thinking about my highest ranking or my big expectations playing the tournament. It’s the best thing I could feel before a tournament.”
Del Potro enters the season’s final Grand Slam tournament at a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings. He won his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in March, beating Federer for the seventh time in 25 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings (Federer leads 18-7). The Argentine captured the ATP World Tour 500-level title in Acapulco a week earlier.
Murray: ‘My Tennis Is Getting Better All The Time’
The Scot is competing in his fifth tournament since undergoing hip surgery in January
Coming back from injury is never easy, even for the best players in the world.
So while Andy Murray has enjoyed success at the US Open before, lifting his first Grand Slam trophy here in 2012, he knows not to dream too big quite yet. Murray did not play after Wimbledon in 2017, and then underwent hip surgery this January. After returning in June at the Fever-Tree Championships, this will be his fifth tournament back.
“My expectation is to give my best effort in the matches. Hopefully if I do that, my tennis will get better. Take each match at a time. It’s kind of difficult to predict how you’re going to do and say how far you’re going to go in the event,” Murray said. “My tennis is getting better all the time. Just need to be on the court more consistently through till the end of the year.”
After losing in the first round of the Western & Southern Open against Lucas Pouille, Murray spent time in Philadelphia to work on his physical fitness before arriving in New York earlier this week to prepare for the campaign’s final Grand Slam.
“It’s been good. It’s been difficult. My tennis has been a bit of stop-starty because after Washington, I took a few days off the court, then built back up again. Then obviously sort of light practising last week,” Murray said. “My body feels better than it did a few weeks ago, so that’s positive. Just being around these players and practising with them more and more on a more consistent basis is going to help me improve.”
This will be the former World No. 1’s first best-of-five-set event in his comeback. But he has played plenty of long matches, with his past four clashes going to a decider.
“I played some long matches in Washington. They were all over two-and-a-half hours, and a three-hour match. Three of them in four days,” Murray said. “The benefit of the Slams is having that day off to recover in between, which will help me.”
Murray is not the only player on the comeback trail. Recent Western & Southern Open champion Novak Djokovic underwent right elbow surgery after the Australian Open, and Stan Wawrinka is continuing to improve after two left knee surgeries last season. Djokovic is already back inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, and Wawrinka pushed the Top 2 players in the world, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, in Toronto and Cincinnati, respectively.
“All injuries are completely different. Some are more serious than others. Someone is out for a few weeks with a muscle injury, it’s very different to somebody recovering from a surgery on certain parts of the body. It’s notoriously more difficult,” Murray said. “I do feel that once my body is right again, which takes time when you haven’t played many matches in a year, I’m sure that my level will be okay to get me competing at the top of the game again.”
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And perhaps this is the place for Murray to remind the world what he’s capable of. He won the Boys’ Singles title here in 2004, reached his first major final in 2008 and then earned his maiden major in 2012.
“I have great memories from New York overall from juniors to my first Slam final to then obviously winning my first Grand Slam here. So, yeah, I’ve got lots of great memories,” Murray said. “I’m happy that I’m able to be back competing again here. It was tough missing it last year. I was pretty upset at the time. Yeah, really, really pleased to be back. I’ll try to enjoy it as much as I can.”
And in a way, that’s what this whole comeback boils down to. Murray is trying to take it all in and get as much out of himself as he can as he continues his climb back toward the top of the sport.
“Maybe that’s something to appreciate more while you’ve been away from the game,” Murray said. “It’s been nice. I do want to make sure I make the most of the next few years because you never know exactly what’s around the corner. Obviously 12 months, 14 months ago, I wouldn’t have anticipated what was about to happen.”
But now, Murray is back. And he begins his US Open campaign against Aussie James Duckworth on Monday.
Frenchman cherishes doubles titles as well as his two wins against Federer
Frenchman Julien Benneteau will walk off the court for the final time at the US Open with no regrets.
The 36-year-old, like most players when they reach retirement, wishes he could have accomplished a bit more. Benneteau’s 0-10 record in ATP World Tour singles finals has stung him in the past.
But the Frenchman has done so many other things that most players will never be able to claim, including twice beating Roger Federer, winning a Grand Slam doubles title (2014 Roland Garros, with Roger-Vasselin) and celebrating 11 other tour-level doubles crowns, that he’s made peace with his career.
“It’s a good feeling to end the career without a regret,” Benneteau told ATPWorldTour.com. “Of course I wish I could have won a singles title on the tour, but this is the way it is. I had beautiful success in doubles with a [Roland Garros] title, the bronze medal in the Olympics. I didn’t want to trade one of these titles against a singles title on the tour.”
Watch: Benneteau Discusses Future After Retirement Decision
Benneteau played his final ATP World Tour singles match on Monday at the Winston-Salem Open (l. to Berrettini). He will retire after the US Open, which begins Monday.
The Frenchman was an automatic entry into the main draw in New York because of his ATP Ranking of No. 58. He will meet 22nd seed and Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy.
The veteran had simple goals coming into 2018, what he knew would be his final year: “My main goal at the beginning of the year was to be 100 per cent physically fit for the tournaments I wanted to play,” he said.
His semi-final run at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters, which included wins against Denis Shapovalov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin, and Marin Cilic, let Benneteau pick and choose his final tournaments. The run in his home ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event also ranks among his career highlights.
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The Bourg-en-Bresse native requested a wild card from tournament organisers because he knew it would be his final time playing in Bercy. “I had my moment in Paris last year. I had incredible feelings and incredible emotions, and it was something very special with the crowd, and to share this moment with my family, my friends, my coach, my wife and my little boy,” he said.
Benneteau’s win against then-No. 1 Federer in Paris in 2009 and his 2013 Rotterdam upset against the Swiss also sit among his favourite memories. “To be able to beat the No. 1 in the world at home in Bercy was a special moment,” he said.
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Benneteau, who also helped his home nation win the 2017 Davis Cup, is a Masters 1000 titlist as well, having won two doubles titles at the level – 2009 Rolex Shanghai Masters (with Tsonga) and 2013 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (with Zimonjic)
After the US Open, Benneteau will shift his attention to France’s Fed Cup team, which he will captain. He also plans to spend more time with his wife, Karen, and their 3-year-old boy, Ayrton.
“When you are a little boy and you dream to become a professional tennis player, you dream to… become No. 1 in the world, to win a lot of tournaments,” Benneteau said.
“After that when you start on the juniors tour, the Futures, the [ATP] Challenger Tour, you start to realise it’s tough and it’s very difficult to be able to play at the very high level. I realised my childhood dream to win the Davis Cup, to be a professional tennis player. I could have had maybe more success, but I tried to do my best and I gave everything every time.”
#NextGenATP Martinez Saves 3 MP In Qualifying Thriller
Spaniard is one of seven #NextGenATP in the final round of qualifying
Pedro Martinez will always remember this moment. The 21-year-old Spaniard turned in the clutch performance of the week at US Open qualifying, rallying to defeat Christian Harrison 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes.
Trailing by a set and a break and facing three match points at 4-5 0/40, Martinez mounted a stunning comeback. Making just his second Grand Slam qualifying appearance and first in New York, he would reel off eight of the next 12 games to set a final-round date with fellow #NextGenATP Hubert Hurkacz. The Spaniard collapsed to the court as he celebrated with friends and family.
“The truth is that I was very nervous and when I was down 0/40, I was a long way from winning,” Martinez told ATPWorldTour.com following the match. “I had a foot fault on that first match point, but I played an incredible point on my second serve. It was one of the best of the match. Then, the match changed a lot. I escaped. And the support of the fans was amazing. It was a pleasure to play in front of them. It’s the best tournament of my life.”
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It was an impressive performance for Martinez, who is competing in just his second hard-court tournament since February. At No. 182 in the ATP Rankings, he recently lifted his maiden ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Bastad, Sweden, last month.
Martinez’s victory wasn’t the only match point-saving win of Day 3. American Mitchell Krueger also denied three, surviving with his back against the wall against countryman Thai-Son Kwiatkowski. The Texas native advanced 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-5 in two hours and 36 minutes. Victory in Friday’s final round against Calvin Hemery would see him reach the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.
Krueger is joined by JC Aragone, Collin Altamirano and Donald Young as the lone Americans to feature on Day 4. While Aragone is bidding to complete back-to-back qualifying runs at Flushing Meadows, Altamirano is hoping to appear in the main draw for the first time since 2013, when he earned a wild card as a junior. The 22-year-old scored the biggest win of his young career in upsetting Ivo Karlovic 7-5, 6-4 on Court 13.
“I was cracking up because earlier in the week I was practising with Reilly Opelka and then the draw came out,” said Altamirano. “My coach wanted me to see the bigger serves, so I guess that paid off. Ivo’s made a living off that shot, but I guess I did the right things out there. Things fell my way. Just one shot here and there made the difference.”
Qualifying Reports: Day 1 | Day 2
Meanwhile, the #NextGenATP contingent will be well represented with main draw berths at stake on Friday. Not only are Hubert Hurkacz and Casper Ruud – No. 9 and No. 10 in the ATP Race To Milan – in action, but Martinez, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Ugo Humbert, Marc Polmans and Lloyd Harris are all bidding to make their Grand Slam debuts. Humbert and Polmans will square off in a blockbuster match-up.
South Africa’s Harris has arguably been the most dominant player in qualifying, routing Sebastian Ofner 6-2, 6-1 after dismissing Roberto Quiroz in straight sets. The 21-year-old is on a tear after winning his first Challenger title in Lexington and finishing runner-up the following week in Aptos. He is 15-3 since mid-July.
“I came out of the blocks pretty fast and got on the front foot from there,” said Harris. “I was trying to get him out of position and strike on the first ball. I thought I was solid throughout the match. I didn’t allow him to do too much and I was just pumped and excited for the match. I’ve alwayed liked to play here since juniors. It’s the people, the fans and I’m happy to have friends around too.”
Finally, a pair of veterans will duel when Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Mahut meet. In five previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, Robredo leads 3-2, with their most recent meeting coming in Winston-Salem in 2014. The 36-year-olds have competed in the US Open main draw a combined 26 times.
Johnson Gains Winston-Salem Revenge Against Edmund
American will next try to even FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Carreno Busta
One year ago, Brit Kyle Edmund ended Steve Johnson’s Winston-Salem Open and his US Open. Not this year.
The American routed Edmund 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday to reach his second Winston-Salem Open semi-final (2015, l. Herbert). The 28-year-old Johnson needed only 64 minutes to beat Edmund, winning 80 per cent (35/44) of his service points and saving all four break points.
“I think it was my best serving day in a long time so that’s always helpful, and when you get early breaks in both sets that definitely helps your case. Your confidence builds and maybe the doubt in their game maybe creeps up a bit more,” he said.
Johnson, a champion at Houston and Newport this year, will try to reach his third final of 2018 when he meets second seed Pablo Carreno Busta. The 2016 champion broke four times and advanced past South Korean Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4.
“Playing like this I am going to win a lot of matches. I think my opponent today played very good,” Carreno Busta said.
The Spaniard leads his Fedex ATP Head2Head series with Johnson 2-1, including a straight-sets win earlier this year on the Miami hard courts.
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Russian Daniil Medvedev and Japan’s Taro Daniel will face off in Friday’s other semi-final. Medvedev beat American Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-4, and Daniel came back from a set and a break down to knock out Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Japanese right-hander played two full matches on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals.
“Another really tough one. [Medvedev] has been accumulating a lot of experience on the tour,” Daniel said.
Medvedev reached his fourth ATP World Tour semi-final and his first since January when he won his maiden title at the Sydney International. “It was a great match for me. I played quite good tennis I think. You can always do something better but I think it was a solid match,” he said.
Wawrinka-Dimitrov Leads Five Must-See First-Rounders At The US Open
Exciting match-ups aplenty in the first round in New York
Get the popcorn ready. There are plenty of must-see first-round matches at the US Open.
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 Grigor Dimitrov vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) Yes, again. Just two months after Dimitrov and Wawrinka clashed in the opening round at The Championships, the stars will meet again in the match to watch in the first round of the US Open. And this time, somehow, there might be even more anticipation.
Wawrinka, on the comeback from two left knee surgeries last year, beat Dimitrov at Wimbledon on his least favourite surface. And while the Swiss is No. 101 in the ATP Rankings, the 2016 US Open champion is playing at a much higher level than that. Wawrinka won a combined five matches at the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open, all against opponents currently inside the Top 40, with his two losses coming in tight defeats against Rafael Nadal in Toronto and Roger Federer in Cincinnati.
Dimitrov, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, has himself shown progress during this hard-court swing, reaching his first quarter-final since April in Canada and pushing eventual winner Djokovic in a three-set Cincinnati loss. The Bulgarian will be eager to avenge his loss from SW19 in New York, which would extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Wawrinka to 5-3.
It will be interesting to see who will be able to control points in Flushing Meadows. Dimitrov is at his best when he is serving well and using his athleticism to take the ball early and move into net. But Wawrinka, who is moving closer to his best tennis, can hit groundstrokes with anyone in the world, especially with his impressive one-handed backhand. The winner will face a qualifier in the second round.
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. David Ferrer (ESP) Could this be good-bye for Ferrer, who is playing his 16th (consecutive) and final US Open? The Spaniard will look to pull off a stunning upset against World No. 1 Nadal, who leads their rivalry 24-6.
While Nadal has dominated the former World No. 3 over the years, the compatriots are even on hard courts, each winning four of their meetings. And interestingly enough, Ferrer has won both of their Grand Slam matches on the surface, including a clash at the 2007 US Open.
Nadal is in far better form, though, fresh off his victory at the Rogers Cup. Ferrer, who spent 13 consecutive years in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings until he fell out of the group in July, is now down to No. 148. The 36-year-old is 9-17 at tour-level this campaign.
But against Nadal, expect Ferrer to summon everything he has at a tournament where he has enjoyed plenty of success, including trips to the semi-finals in 2007 and 2012. Ferrer will need to not only chase down all of Nadal’s aggressive shots, as has become the Valencia-resident’s trademark over the years, but he will also need to take it to the top seed if he hopes to keep Nadal from gaining a rhythm.
 Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs. Feliciano Lopez (ESP) Do you know where these two left-handed Spaniards last met? If you guessed the 2017 US Open, you’re right. Lopez, who was ironically the No. 31 seed at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center a year ago, swept by Verdasco in four sets before falling to Federer in the third round.
Both players will be especially hungry at the year’s final Grand Slam, as they earned a total of one match win at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati. It is Verdasco’s 16th consecutive US Open and Lopez’s record 67th straight major main draw appearance.
But this matchup is not only interesting based on their history, but their styles. Verdasco has long been one of the most dangerous baseliners in the world, and he is facing an opponent who comes to net as much as possible. Verdasco is likely to try to control his service games with his serve and a big forehand, while Lopez will serve and volley to pressure the 34-year-old.
Neither guy shies away from the doubles court, either, meaning that fans are almost guaranteed to see some sensational play at the net. Whoever prevails will face former World No. 1 Andy Murray or Aussie James Duckworth.
 Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs. Frances Tiafoe (USA) Who could forget #NextGenATP American Tiafoe’s effort in the first round of the 2017 US Open, pushing Federer to five sets as he tried to send the Swiss out in the opening round of a Grand Slam for the first time since Roland Garros in 2003? Tiafoe showed his propensity for the big moment, and he’ll have another shot against No. 29 seed Mannarino.
The Frenchman beat his 20-year-old opponent the last time they met, which was at the 2016 Citi Open in Washington, D.C. But Tiafoe is a different player now than he was two years ago, playing the best tennis of his life. The American claimed his first ATP World Tour title earlier this year at the Delray Beach Open, and at World No. 42 he is within four spots of his career-best ATP Ranking.
But Mannarino has proven a difficult matchup for many players with his flat groundstrokes off both wings. The 30-year-old will try to keep Tiafoe from gaining any rhythm, while the American will use his athleticism and explosiveness to dictate play in front of his home crowd. The victor will face #NextGenATP Alex de Minaur or Japanese Taro Daniel.
 Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) Few players are in as good of form as Khachanov, who used his massive hitting from the baseline to reach the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in Toronto. The Russian, who qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals last year, has captured two ATP World Tour titles, including one earlier this season in Marseille. But his opponent, Ramos-Vinolas, has reached a final at the elite level, doing so last year on clay in Monte-Carlo.
This is a rematch of a first-round clash from Cincinnati, which Khachanov won in three sets. The 22-year-old leads the Spaniard 3-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and all four of their meetings have come in three sets. Khachanov beat Ramos-Vinolas to claim his first tour-level trophy two years ago in Chengdu.
The 6’6” right-hander will try to dominate with his power from the baseline, while the left-handed Ramos-Vinolas will attempt to set himself up in points with his slice serve, and use angles with his forehand to open up the court. Whoever gets through this match could be on a collision course with top-seeded Nadal in the third round. They’ll face Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller or a qualifier in the second round.
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