By Ann Liguori
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This 2014 U.S. Open is all about two of the all-time greats in tennis — Roger Federer and Serena Williams — hoping to win their 18th Grand Slam titles. It will be difficult to come up with a more dramatic storyline than that one, given the magnitude of their accomplishments already and the outside circumstances surrounding both players.
Federer, the greatest player in the men’s game, won five straight U.S. Open titles from 2004-2008. His 17th Grand Slam title came in 2012 at Wimbledon when he won his seventh Wimbledon title. Four Australian Open titles and one French Open championship round out his career Grand Slam resume thus far.
But just last year, Federer suffered one of the worst losses of his career, a second-round exit at Wimbledon. That was followed by a fourth-round departure at the U.S. Open. Back injuries and loss of confidence were getting the best of him and “retirement” talk resurfaced — not by Federer, mind you. The 33-year-old insisted he continued to find joy in the game despite the losses last year.
And being the father of four keeps him more than busy.
This year, Federer advanced to the finals at Wimbledon before losing in a five-set epic to Novak Djokovic. With a 49-9 record and four titles this year — including two of the last four events — Federer is playing with renewed confidence and says, “You come into this U.S. Open just knowing … you remember how it feels to win tournaments. You remember and you get used to that.”
With Federer feeling like that, it’s hard to bet against him. And with rival Rafael Nadal not playing because of a wrist injury, Federer’s draw is less complicated.
Wouldn’t it be great to see Federer win his sixth U.S. Open title, becoming the first male player in the Open era and the fourth man in the history of the U.S. Open to do that?
32-year-old Williams is also playing for her 18th Grand Slam singles title, which would equal Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and be four Grand Slam titles shy of Steffi Graf.
She is looking for her third straight U.S. Open title and her sixth U.S. Open title overall, but she hasn’t won a major this year. And her meltdown at Wimbledon was quite mysterious. Williams comes into this major having won two titles on hard courts.
When Williams is strong, both mentally and physically, there is still no one who can beat her but herself.
Both Federer and Williams start their historic campaigns on Tuesday evening. Federer, seeded second, will take on Marinko Matosevic of Australia and top-ranked Williams will play fellow American Taylor Townsend.
Let their exciting journeys begin!
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