With the U.S. Open just days away, all the talk is focused on the big names and favorites of the tournament (and the one who won't be contending for the title), but what about those potential dark horses that could make an impression on the grand stage? Here's a look at the men and women to look out for as the tournament begins on Monday, Aug. 25.
Svetlana Kuznetsova: The Russian has bounced back from a forgettable season to win the Citi Open this summer. At the Western & Southern Open, she beat Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard and then pushed Ana Ivanovic to three sets before losing in the third round. Her confidence level are high, and since she'll be seeded in New York, she will have some draw protection that could propel her into the second week.
CoCo Vandeweghe: The 22-year-old has been hitting a big, clean ball ever since winning her first WTA title in Holland in June. Never short of swagger, Vandeweghe had a week to remember in at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, beating Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic in three grueling sets to make the quarterfinals as a qualifier. She just narrowly missed out on a top 32 seed at the Open (she's ranked No. 37) making her one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw.
Garbine Muguruza: Despite her Serena-beating run to the French Open quarterfinals in May, Muguruza is still flying under the radar, even though she followed that up by making two tour quarterfinals, including at the Bank of the West Classic. This week she's already beaten Sara Errani at the Connecticut Open in the opening round. She should make the second week if she has an average draw.
Shelby Rogers: Yes, Bouchard came down with a bad set of nerves, but it's hard to ignore the 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 scoreline Rogers handed down in their match in Montreal, especially when she's been on a run. Since Wimbledon, Rogers has made the final of Bad Gastein (l. Petkovic) and qualified and made the third round in Washington DC. She's a big hitter, so a good draw could give her a shot at the third round.
Taylor Townsend: Ranked No. 103, the 18-year-old earned a wildcard into the French Open by winning the USTA wildcard playoff and then made the third round. She was given a wildcard into the U.S. Open this time and is more than capable of matching her Paris result. She's full of confidence this summer after back-to-back successful qualifying campaigns in DC and Cincinnati.
Feliciano Lopez: The 32-year-old Spaniard is playing some of the best tennis in his career, building momentum through the grass season and culminating in the Rogers Cup semifinals in Toronto, where he lost in straight sets to Roger Federer. He's a top 32 seed.
Gael Monfils: In the last two weeks, Monfils has taken Novak Djokovic to a third set tiebreak in Toronto and pushed eventual champion Federer to three sets in Cincinnati. His match against Federer was the most impressive of the two because he played like a man who wanted to win, not just to goof around and entertain the crowd. If he brigs that attitude into New York and can avoid getting himself in unnecessary four- and five-setters in the early rounds, I like his chances of a quarterfinal run.
Donald Young: Up to No. 46 and less than 10 spots from his career-high ranking, Young has been the most reliable American man at the Slams this year behind John Isner. He started the season with a third round run at the Australian Open and did the same at the French Open. This summer he made his first ATP semifinal in three years by beating three seeds in Washington DC.
Jerzy Janowicz: The former top 20 player has seen his game implode (rather than explode) over the last 12 months,after struggling to win back-to-back matches at tournaments. But he's been playing better this summer, with his big win coming last week over Grigor Dimitrov in Cincinnati. He's a confidence player and could ride that big serve into the second week. Even if he doesn't get that far (now ranked at No. 52) he's a very dangerous unseeded player. If he draws one of the struggling top ten players in the first two rounds, watch out.
David Goffin: No one has done more winning over the last month than No. 62, Goffin. Absolutely no one. After knocking out defending champion Jurgen Melzer from the Winston-Salem Open on Monday and ousting Leonardo Mayer on Tuesday, Goffin is now on a 24-match winning streak. None of those matches have been against the ATP's best, but the Belgian must feel invincible right now.
Roger Federer's Grand Slam Titles
Federer is 17-8 in Grand Slam finals, including 7-2 at Wimbledon.
Federer hadn't advanced past the quarterfinals at a major before it all came together at Wimbledon in 2003. Seeded fourth, the 20-year-old Federer defeated Mark Philippoussis in straight sets in the final to become the first Swiss man to win a Grand Slam title.
2004 Australian Open
Federer clinched the No. 1 spot in the rankings with his semifinal victory against Juan Carlos Ferrero. He then coasted in the final against the unseeded Marat Safin, who had beaten top-seeded Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals and Andre Agassi in the semifinals.
In a matchup of the two top-ranked players, Federer defeated Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to win his second Wimbledon title in a row. Federer improved to 6-1 against Roddick.
2004 U.S. Open
By routing Lleyton Hewitt in the final, Federer added the U.S. Open to his Wimbledon and Australian Open titles to become the first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three majors in a year.
Calling his play in the final "the best in my life," Federer picked apart Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 for his third consecutive Wimbledon title. Federer lost one set in the tournament, to Nicolas Kiefer in the third round.
2005 U.S. Open
Deadlocked at a set apiece and down a third-set break against 35-year-old Andre Agassi, Federer rallied to win the final in four sets. Federer claimed his sixth major and became the first man in 68 years to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. "The standard and the options and the talent and the execution that he shows in all the biggest matches -- it's crazy," Agassi said after being denied a ninth Grand Slam title.
2006 Australian Open
The 24-year-old Federer tied Mats Wilander and John McEnroe with his seventh major title, defeating Marcos Baghdatis in the final.
Federer had been 1-6 lifetime against Rafael Nadal, including a loss in the 2006 French Open final, before subduing the Spaniard for his fourth Wimbledon championship in a row. But in pushing Federer to four sets in the final, Nadal served notice that he was more than just a clay-court wizard.
2006 U.S. Open
With yet another victory against Andy Roddick, Federer won his third U.S. Open in a row and capped another year with three major titles.
2007 Australian Open
Federer won his 10th major in dominant fashion: He didn't drop a set in Melbourne, handling Tommy Robredo in the quarterfinals, Andy Roddick in the semifinals and Fernando Gonzalez in the final.
Federer matched Bjorn Borg with both his five consecutive Wimbledon title and 11th major overall after edging three-time French Open champion Nadal 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2, the Swiss star's 54th victory in a row on grass.
2007 U.S. Open
Novak Djokovic squandered seven set points in the final against Federer, who prevailed 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4 to become the first player in the Open era (since 1968) to win four straight U.S. Open titles.
2008 U.S. Open
Federer entered the U.S. Open near the end of a down year by his lofty standards: After a bout with mononucleosis, he had failed to win a Grand Slam title, had won only two minor titles and had ceded the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal. But the No. 2 seed survived a five-setter against Igor Andreev in the fourth round and went on to stop Andy Murray in the final.
2009 French Open
With a victory against surprise finalist Robin Soderling (who had stunned Rafael Nadal in the fourth round), Federer won his first title at Roland Garros, tied Pete Sampras' record of 14 major championships and became the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam.
Federer moved ahead of Pete Sampras for most Grand Slam titles with his sixth victory at Wimbledon, which unfolded without injured defending champion Rafael Nadal. Federer outlasted Andy Roddick in a marathon match that went to 16-14 in the fifth set. Federer served 50 aces and overcame the resilient American 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. The 30 games in the fifth set established a record for the most games played in any set in a Wimbledon singles final.
2010 Australian Open
Playing in his 22nd Grand Slam final, Federer was in rare form, dropping fifth-seeded Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11) at the Australian Open for Grand Slam title No. 16.
The 30-year-old Federer finally equaled Pete Sampras' record at the All England Club, and won his 17th Grand Slam title overall, by beating Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.