Play begins at 11am (Eastern) with last year's women's champion Sam Stosur taking on Petra Martic of Croatia in Arthur Ashe stadium.
Subsequent first day matches on the main show court feature Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray, this year's French Open champion Maria Sharapova, and multiple U.S. Open winners Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer.
You can find the exact order of play here, and the complete draws for both men's and women's singles here.
As usual, unraveling the mysteries of U.S. television coverage is more challenging than understanding a David Lynch movie. In a nutshell, it goes like this for the first five days (thru Friday):
- ESPN 2 coverage runs twice daily: 1-7pm (Eastern) and 7-11pm (Eastern) and features the top-billed matches in Ashe stadium.
- Tennis Channel coverage runs daily from 11am-7pm (Eastern) and includes matches played on secondary courts (other than Ashe).
The 2012 Open is sure to offer some intriguing storylines and maybe a few surprises.
|Serena Williams on the practice courts.|
Photo: Jeff McKown
On the women's side, when she has been on her game this year, Serena Williams has utterly dominated every opponent she's faced.
The challenge for the 14-time single's grand slam champion is making sure she brings her best consistently. Williams crushed every opponent with ease on her way to a Wimbledon title earlier this summer, but just a few weeks prior to that, she was knocked out in the first round of the French Open by relatively low-ranked and little known French player Virginie Razzano.
Sam Stosur will look to defend her 2011 U.S. Open title, but the Aussie has struggled to perform under pressure, and she'll need to raise her game without raising her blood pressure if she wants to be in contention for the championship.
Belgian Kim Clijsters has won the Open three times before, but her year has been plagued by injury. With her announced retirement, you can bet she will pour everything into winning one last major, and if she stays remotely healthy, she'll be a force to reckon with in the women's draw.
Seven different women have won the last seven grand slam titles. In addition to Williams, Stosur, and Clijsters, recent major winners include Vika Azarenka (the top seed this week), Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, and Li Na. Any of these athletes could be the last woman standing at the end of the tourney, but we could just as likely add a new name to the grand slam champion list - like No.3 seed, Aggie Radwanska.
For my money, Serena Williams will deliver her best throughout the next two weeks, and she'll be the woman who hoists the U.S. Open trophy on finals Sunday.
The men's draw is sure to provide copious drama as well, though it offers much more consistency in grand slam winners in recent years. It's been three years since someone not named Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic has won a men's grand slam title, and so far in 2012, the three men have each scored one major championship. The question on the men's side of the action is will one of the "big three" earn his second grand slam title of the year or is it finally time to see someone else break through.
The absence of Rafa Nadal from the draw due to a lingering knee injury certainly opens the door for a new name to be added to a grand slam trophy, but with Djokovic on one half of the draw, and Federer and Murray on the other half, the road to finals Sunday is nearly impossible for most of the men's field to navigate.
My best guess for which men in this year's field have the best shot at a surprise showing on finals weekend includes six of the current top 20 players.
|Britain's Andy Murray|
Photo: Jeff McKown
Considering his numerous grand slam finals appearances and his gold medal win at this summer's Olympics, Andy Murray is the logical choice for the player must likely to dethrone the dominant men's tennis triumvirate.
Since London though, Murray pulled out of Toronto with an injury and had a relatively poor showing in Cincinnati. Nonetheless, Andy is the least shaded of all the dark horses.
If he is healthy, and with a tricky left wrist of late, that's a big if, Juan Martin Del Potro could also be formidable. He's beaten Djokovic twice in the seven matches they've played, and he's beaten Federer twice, including in the 2009 U.S. Open final. DelPo has a jet-fueled forehand and all the other weapons he needs, he just has to stay healthy to contend for the title.
Other potential spoilers on the men's side include Tomas Berdych, who despite a rough Wimbledon and a modest year, always represents a danger to the top seeds. Additionally, Berdych made last week's final in Winston-Salem.
Top-ranked American John Isner, who bested Berdych in the Winston-Salem final, also has a reasonable shot at making at least a semi-final appearance. With his tour-best monster serve and a slowly maturing game, Isner could make his way through the draw and still be in the hunt on finals weekend.
Two last names to mention in the men's draw are Stan Wawrinka (Roger's Swiss countryman and doubles partner) and French backhand master Richard Gasquet. Both of these players have had several impressive showings this summer, and both, though extreme long shots to win the U.S. Open, could make their deepest runs yet in a grand slam event.
Having said all that - it's Roger and Novak in the finals, and Roger wins.
After all, in the "twilight" of his career and at a point when most assumed his best tennis was in his rearview mirror, Roger Federer has regained the No.1 ranking amid fierce competition.
Federer, who is now 31, has won nine tournaments since turning 30 in August 2011. Consider that he also just earned his 17th grand slam title (Wimbledon 2012) and the silver medal in the Olympics, and it only makes sense to assume he will cap off the "summer of Roger" with a sixth U.S. Open title.
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