Once again, the U.S. Open is nearly upon us, as tennis fans get ready to watch the last Grand Slam of the 2016 calendar year. This year, however, Roger Federer will not be participating due to injury, and his absence will leave a considerable mark in this year’s Championships.
Many interesting stories dominate the headlines of this year’s U.S. Open: the race for the number one spot between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, Andy Murray’s quest to finally get a second grand slam this year, and the impact recent silver-medalist Juan Martin Del Potro will have in the men’s main draw.
Along with some interesting storylines, there are also quite a few interesting players to watch (different from the main stars, as they’re always interesting to watch). Here are some of the interesting players on both the men’s and the women’s side to take note of this year.
Mens: Mackenzie Mcdonald
Mackenzie “Mackie” Mcdonald will make his Grand Slam debut at this year’s U.S. Open. This year, after an incredible season at UCLA (in which he won both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships), Mackie decided to go pro. Possessing very solid groundstrokes, great movement, and a very smooth gameplay, it will be interesting to see how an accomplished college tennis player like Mackie does in his first Grand Slam. Standing at 5’10 and weighing around 150 pounds, Mackie is on the small side for most men’s professionals, but his strong mental composure makes him much bigger on the court,
Womens: Monica Puig
Monica Puig is a national hero. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Puig won the Olympic Gold medal, defeating the No. 2 player in the world, Angelique Kerber. Representing Puerto Rico, Puig’s gold medal was the first in the small nation’s history and just its ninth overall. Puig’s brilliant tennis and fighting spirit were displayed throughout the match, as she fired powerful groundstroke after groundstroke at Kerber. This year’s U.S. Open is a chance for Puig to show the world that the Gold medal she won was no fluke. In the same quarter as world No.3 Gabrielle Muguruza, Puig’s journey will be a fascinating story to follow.
Mens: Michael Mmoh
Another promising young U.S. star in the making, Michael Mmoh, joins Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, and Stefan Kozlov as young American tennis players who are destined for greatness. Currently 18 years old, Mmoh won the 2016 Boy’s National Tennis Championship at Kalamazoo in early August. A strong young player, with good groundstrokes and great feel at the net, Mmoh will be a fun player to watch at this year’s open. He faces a tough opponent, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, in the first round, but Mmoh will have the American crowd supporting him the entire way.
Caroline Wozniacki has had a tough year. In the early hardcourt season, she struggled to find form, and later on during the clay court season, an ankle injury kept her out of the French Open. Wozniacki’s ranking slid to 51, and, at 26 years old, she is no longer one of the younger stars on tour. At her best, she is the No. 1 player we saw a few years ago, who lit up the tennis world with her movement and charming personality. Wozniacki’s two Grand Slam Final appearances have both been at the U.S. Open, so hopefully she can find her form again.
Good luck to these guys at the tournament!