With the 2012 US Open set to get underway tomorrow at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, much of the talk has been about who will wind up in the finals.
It's always fun to look ahead and try to predict what will happen, but this year's tournament is full of quality players from around the world and chock full of intriguing matchups in the opening round.
Here's what to look for on the first day of action.
James Blake vs. Lukas Lacko, 11:00 AM EST
It's been a long time since James Blake was ranked among the best players in the world—2009 was the last time that he was ranked in the Top 10, and the 32-year-old New York native currently finds himself ranked 114th in the world.
Blake knows that he is running out of time to play on his home court, and he goes up against Lukas Lacko, a 24-year-old Slovakian currently ranked 54th in the world who is looking to win his first US Open match.
Blake cannot take Lacko lightly—he was a finalist in Zagreb and reached the third round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. It will be interesting to see whether the home crowd can inspire Blake to what would be an upset victory or if the years of wear-and-tear have finally caught up to him.
Na Li vs. Heather Watson, 11:00 AM EST
China's Na Li enters this year's US Open on a high note, having taken home her first title at the WTA Premier 5 in Cincinnati and with her sights set on redeeming herself after an early exit at last year's Open.
Watson, a 20-year-old from Great Britain, gave Maria Sharapova everything she had in a three-set opening-round loss last year in Flushing Meadows.
It will be fascinating to see whether the veteran Li can hold off the up-and-coming youngster or whether she'll return home disappointed once again.
Roger Federer vs. Donald Young, 7:00 PM ET
Watching Roger Federer at his best is always worthwhile viewing for any tennis fan, and there's no question that Federer is on a roll as he begins play at this year's US Open.
Nobody expects him to have much of a problem with 23-year-old American Donald Young, but for fans of American tennis, how Young performs will be interesting to watch.
After being ranked as high as 38th in the world at the end of February, Young has lost 20 of his last 22 matches, dropping to the 81st spot on the ATP rankings. This match is more about whether Young can show any signs of life; if not, it seems likely that he is completely drained and should not be considered a promising up-and-coming player for U.S. tennis.
Kim Clijsters vs. Victoria Duval, 7:00 PM ET
Clijsters was once one of the preeminent players in the world, but injuries have taken their toll on the 29-year-old, prompting her to announce in May that this year's US Open would be the last major that she ever plays in; she is retiring after the tournament. (h/t BBC)
Currently ranked 25th in the world, the three-time US Open champion has made a career out of coming up big in Queens, with her last defeat in Flushing Meadows coming in the 2003 women’s final to fellow Belgian Justine Henin.
Clijsters will be matched up against 16-year-old American Victoria Duval, a wild-card entrant who will be playing in her first main draw at the US Open. While Duval certainly has a bright future ahead of her, this is about celebrating Clijsters' remarkable career.
Considering that the next match she loses will be her last, that makes for can't-miss television.
You can find the full listing of 2012 US Open action here.
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