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Federer sees 'huge opportunity' for underdogs at US Open

A number of the leading players in the men's game are out of the US Open through injury and Roger Federer feels the draw is wide open.

Roger Federer - cropped
19-time grand slam champion Roger Federer

Roger Federer believes the US Open presents a "huge opportunity for guys ranked outside of the top 10" after a host of injury withdrawals in the lead-up to the year's final grand slam.

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori are all absent at Flushing Meadows, while Federer, Andy Murray and Marin Cilic are among those to have suffered recent fitness troubles.

Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov capitalised on their rivals' struggles to win the recent Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, a far cry from the usual dominance of those tournaments enjoyed by the 'big four' of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.

Asked how the spate of withdrawals will impact on the US Open, 19-time grand slam winner Federer said in a news conference: "It opens the draws, like we saw in Montreal and Cincinnati.

"There will be certain sections that if the seed loses anything can happen and you can have a deep run at a slam, semis and beyond.

"So I think it's a huge opportunity for guys ranked outside of the top 10. Because there is less guys to beat, [it's easier] getting to the quarters or semis, potentially, depending on your section."

Federer, who faces Frances Tiafoe in round one next week, appeared to be hampered by an injury as he lost the Rogers Cup final to Zverev this month.

Yet the Swiss said: "I have been playing sets the last few days and I'm really happy how I'm feeling, 

"Two weeks after the final [of the Rogers Cup] is a long time, so because you've got two weeks you can take your time. The first week was really just trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week. There you have it."

Should Federer reach the last four in New York, he could meet Nadal for the first time at a US Open, the duo having surprisingly avoided each other in this event throughout their illustrious careers.

"I'd be happy to play him here. We never played here in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved," added Federer.

"There is, like, 60-plus players in between us that don't agree in our section that we should make it to the semis. We have our work cut out there.

"But I'd love to play Rafa here in New York. Hopefully it will be a night session. Hopefully that would be a great atmosphere and one again where we play great like at the Australian Open.

"I don't think we are both thinking that far ahead, [but] I'm sure it will be a nice prospect."

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