Nadal faces tough road to U.S. Open title

Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:29pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal faces the daunting prospect of possibly having to beat Roger Federer and Andy Murray to win the U.S. Open for the first time and complete his collection of grand slam titles.

The Spaniard will launch his championship campaign against unseeded Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili but was given no favors during Thursday's official draw at Flushing Meadows.

If results go according to the rankings, the top seed will face the in-form Briton Murray in the semi-finals then Federer in the final, if the Swiss master successfully navigates his own tricky path to reach a seventh consecutive New York final.

Federer, seeded second, opens against Argentina's Brian Dabul before a possible third round clash with former U.S. Open champion Lleyton Hewitt and a quarter-final showdown with Sweden's Robin Soderling, the man he beat to win the French Open last year ahead complete his career grand slam.

If Federer survives that, he could then meet Serbia's third seed Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, in the semi-finals of the two-week tournament starting Monday.

"The first four are of course the biggest favorites," Djokovic told Reuters. "But you also have (Andy) Roddick, Soderling, (Tomas) Berdych, these guys have all played extremely well and have played finals of grand slams."

Last year's men's champion, Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, is unable to defend his title because of injury.

The women's draw, weakened by the absence of injured world number one Serena Williams and former champion Justine Henin, is looming as one of the most open in years with at least a dozen players looming as genuine contenders.   Continued...

<p>Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia reacts during his match against Jurgen Melzer of Austria during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 31, 2010. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>