Williams, Djokovic Entering 2015 US Open As Strong Favorites, But Not Without Tough Competition On Tap

Without question, the main storyline as we approach the 2015 U.S. Open — and really, the 2015 tennis season — is Serena Williams’ chase for history. Williams has enjoyed a sensational ride this year, as she’s triumphed in unlikely spots while not playing her best tennis at times, and already owns three of the year’s four Grand Slam events. With a win at this year’s U.S. Open, she’d secure her first career Grand Slam in sweeping all four Majors, and become the first pro tennis player to do so since 1988 when Steffi Graf accomplished the rare feat.

While there’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of hype surrounding Serena Williams at this year’s U.S. Open, she still has some stiff competition to complete the sweep, and there is still plenty to see on the men’s side as well. There won’t be a Grand Slam opportunity for Novak Djokovic, but he’s still the No. 1 male tennis player in the world and should, along with Williams, be the heavy favorite to hoist the U.S. Open trophy when all is said and done in September.

The craziness ensues at the end of the month when players hit the courts on August 31. Fans won’t feel the impact of the U.S. Open’s allure right away, as U.S. Open tickets are a conservative $184.72 on average for Session One, with the cheap seats being $55, according to international reseller Ticketbis. Upsets will be few and far between to get the action going, as the likes of Williams and Djokovic won’t be truly threatened until they get to the semifinals.

Round two starts to heat up the pricing, being $223.24 on average, and the price of U.S. Open tickets only picks up from there. Fans see another spike in round three, as the average climbs to $310.82, and will have to ready themselves for an expensive finale, when tickets jump all the way up to $798.27 on average for the women’s final and $917.88 for the men’s championship match.

No one is denying that Williams and Djokovic are the heaviest of favorites entering this year’s U.S. Open, but it’d be foolish to dismiss the possibility of major upsets. Williams could crack under all of the pressure, or she could simply be bested by another top-shelf competitor that happens to be the better player that day. For Williams, that could be Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka or Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova claimed this very event back in 2006 and has had some success against Williams in the past. Azarenka could be a challenge based on her track record, having made the U.S. Open final in 2012 and 2013, while Wozniacki fell to Williams in the finals last year and appeared in the final in 2009 as well.

On the men’s side, the big names carry the most weight, and for good reason. Rafael Nadal hasn’t enjoyed the best 2015 run (only three wins with no Grand Slams), but his talent speaks for itself and he’s taken first-place in the U.S. Open twice since 2010. Last year’s winner, Marin Cilic, is a solid player but arguably lucked into the title in 2014. He’ll try to defend his U.S. Open hardware, but is not a likely bet to repeat as champion. Roger Federer has aged gracefully and could be in contention in the end, and he even dominated this tournament in the past with five straight titles from 2004-2008. Andy Murray joins Federer as a strong bet to contend for a lengthy run, too, as both have established nice rivalries with Djokovic.

Odds are Williams and Djokovic end up winning their respective hardware at the 2015 U.S. Open, but the journey to the final matches is what’s most exciting. Add Williams’ attempt at history and the intense rivalries on both sides, and this year’s U.S. Open figures to be one for the ages.