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5 biggest obstacles to a Fedal showdown at US Open 2017

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1.45K   //    29 Aug 2017, 10:21 IST

2017 Brisbane International - Day 6
Thiem knows what it takes to beat the Big 4!

The main draw of US Open 2017 is officially underway and the one question that's been looming on everyone’s mind since the men’s draw came out is, will Federer and Nadal finally meet at the US Open?

There have been multiple occasions when the pair could have squared off at Flushing Meadows; the most recent and excruciatingly close instance was in 2013 when Federer lost his 4th round matchup to Rafa’s compatriot Tommy Robredo, in straight sets. Incidentally, that’s the Spaniard’s only victory against Federer in 12 matches played. Nadal crushed Robredo 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the next round, the quarter-finals, en route to his second US Open title.

The Federer-Nadal rivalry may not have been at its peak then, but here in 2017, that element of the rivalry is surely peaking and how! Three meetings (all on hard courts), and all going to Federer have brought about an interesting dynamic in this rejuvenated rivalry.

The first three Grand Slams of the year have been claimed by this duo, and so have 4 of the 7 ATP Masters 1000 tournaments played thus far. They lead the ATP Singles Race to London, and will end the US Open ranked as the top 2 players in the world. So, what is it that could stop us from witnessing the first Federer-Nadal matchup in the US Open?

Realistically, there are a few potential and probable antagonists in the newly rekindled love affair, and we evaluate the case for the 5 most likely of them!

#5 : Dominic Thiem (Federer’s potential opponent in the Quarter-Finals)

The heir-apparent to Rafa Nadal’s throne on the red dirt, Dominic Thiem is the kind of player who can give you all sorts of problems on his day.

The 6th seed at the US Open this year, Thiem himself has a difficult path to the quarter-finals, but if he gets there and so does Federer, we could see a matchup between two of the most contrasting single-handed backhands left in the game.

Federer’s backhand is all about flair and timing, and Thiem epitomises aggression and strength from the baseline.

Thiem has already beaten Djokovic (French Open) and Nadal (Rome) this year, albeit on clay courts, which is definitely his most dominant surface. The interesting sub-text on this potential matchup though is that Thiem leads the career head2head between the duo.

While the two have faced-off only 3 times, all in 2016, Thiem currently leads Federer 2-1. He is one of the only next generation stars who has beaten each member of the historically great Big 4, at least once.

He is currently third on the tour this year in terms of matches won (41), after Nadal (49) and Alexander Zverev (46) and sits 4th in the ATP Singles Race to London. He will need to better his previous best showing of a 4th Round finish at the US Open to set up a potential clash with Federer, but if that was to happen, Federer wouldn't be all too pleased!

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