Liguori: Top Storylines At This Year's US Open


Serena Williams – winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

Roger Federer – winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

Rafael Nadal – winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

Novak Djokovic – winner of 16 Grand Slam singles titles.

Those are and have been the biggest names in tennis for quite some time now, gracing headlines for years. And how fortunate we are as tennis fans to be able to watch these superstars achieve such heights in the game, overcoming so much to sustain the attention for quite some time and so consistently.

These names continue to be the very top storylines as the U.S. Open Tennis Championships start today.

The big three in the men’s game – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal -- will continue their all-out battle for most career major titles, and 23-time Grand Slam champ Serena Williams is hoping to win her seventh U.S. Open title and her first major title since the 2017 Australian Open.

Serena WilliamsJohn E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Images

Three-time U.S. Open champ and top seed Djokovic has won four of his last five majors. The 32-year-old Serb has been as mentally tough as Tiger Woods in his prime and looking to win his 17th Grand Slam championship during this fortnight. In the epic 2019 Wimbledon final, Djokovic saved two championship points against Federer to beat him, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12.

The dynamo male triumvirate have combined to win the past 11 straight Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic and third-seeded Federer are in the top half of the men’s draw and could meet in a highly anticipated semifinal matchup. Djokovic hasn’t lost to Federer or Nadal at a major since 2014. And Federer, 38, won five straight U.S Open titles, the last being in 2008. That seems like a lifetime ago for passionate Federer fans who show their respect and adoration for him every year on the Arthur Ashe Stadium Court in Flushing Meadows.

Roger FedererSusan Mullane/USA TODAY Images

Djokovic will begin his campaign Monday afternoon against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, ranked 76th. And Federer will play his first-round match under the lights Monday against Sumit Nagal of India, ranked 190th.   

Nadal does not play Monday but will face John Millman in his first-round match Tuesday night. Nadal, looking to win his 19th Grand Slam title, will face the Aussie who bounced Federer out in four sets of the U.S. Open last year in the round of 16.

But the headliner match Monday will feature Serena Williams verses Maria Sharapova, the first match scheduled in the evening session after the opening ceremony. It will be the first time the two stars will meet in the U.S. Open. Serena, seeded eighth at this year’s U.S. Open, has only played 24 matches this season. Her fitness is a big question mark as she recently retired in her finals match at the Rogers Cup in Toronto with back spasms.

Sharapova’s ranking has plummeted to No. 87 as she's had an injury-plagued season.

They are two of the biggest names in women’s tennis, and unless Williams' nerves get the best of her, the soon-to-be 38-year-old should be able to beat Sharapova for the 20th time in their 22nd meeting.

Can Serena finally tie Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam wins? Therein lies the question of the major.

It’s sure to be a most exciting start to the 2019 U.S. Open.

Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori.​