Charles Perrin looks ahead to the US Open and explains why it is not a foregone conclusion that Djokovic will defend his title again...
"The world No 1 is just four Slam titles shy (16) of Federer's record and with age on his side, he could well eat into the Swiss legend's tally. "
After a fabulous fortnight at Wimbledon, tennis fans have already quickly turned their attentions to the final Grand Slam of the year - the US Open. The hard court swing is well underway and there will be some fascinating subplots, involving the usual protagonists of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Plenty of questions will be answered over the coming month which will not only define how this season will be remembered, but also in terms of shaping the future of men's tennis.
Can Djokovic close the gap on Federer?
Djokovic has been nothing short of sensational this year and he could well lift his third Grand Slam title of the campaign. The Serbian - who is arguably one of the greatest returners in the game - is chasing a fourth crown at Flushing Meadows. It is unsurprising that he is currently trading as the favourite with the Betfair Exchange at [2.32] and he looks heads and shoulders above his rivals.
At present, the world No 1 is just four Slam titles shy (16) of Federer's record and with age on his side, he could well eat into the Swiss legend's tally. He has been described as a 'human backboard' and he has few weaknesses which makes him an almost indomitable presence on hard.
Should he lift the US Open, Djokovic would win back-to-back Wimbledon and US Open twice as he achieved that feat in 2015 too. While he came very close to losing the final at SW19, his sheer determination got him over the line. And he will probably think he has Federer's number too.
Will Federer move to 21?
The fact that Federer is still reaching Slam finals in his twilight years is quite remarkable. Of course, there will be a few scars from the Wimbledon final where he threw away a couple of championship points. Federer, however, a five-time champion at the US Open, hasn't triumphed at the event since 2008 and he is priced at [6.60] to go all the way this time around.
Question marks have been raised of the Fed Express over the past few months, but he still has an affinity with the Flushing Meadows crowd and what a special moment it would be to get to 21. And were he to win, it would rate very highly in his career achievements.
Can Nadal add another Slam this year?
Nadal of course will be in contention for the US Open and he is a three-time winner. Last year, he cut a distressed figure and pulled out of his semi-final clash against Juan Martin del Potro - trailing 7-6, 6-2. While the Spaniard has been dogged by injury, he has been close to his imperious best in 2019. He reached the Australian Open final back in January, added another French Open crown to his bulging collection before bowing out at the last four stage at SW19 to Federer.
Perhaps it is no surprise that the 33-year-old is tucked in between Djokovic and Federer in the odds, with Betfair Exchange customers pricing him at [5.80] to lift the US Open. Ultimately, a lot will depend on the draw, but Nadal can never be discounted.
Can Zverev make the breakthrough?
Breaking up the trident of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal's grip on the Grand Slams is still one of the biggest challenges facing their rivals and the upcoming generation of stars. Of the immediate crop who are knocking at the door, Alexander Zverev is still looking to join the Grand Slam club. While he has proved himself at Masters level, the German has yet to translate it onto the biggest stage and he has been found wanting.
The 22-year-old has reached the quarter-finals of the French Open twice, but hasn't got past the third round in New York. He's currently priced at [19.00] and he has often been viewed as the natural heir to Federer. He has experienced success previously on the hard court swing and now it's time for him to live up to his billing.