Among the contenders for the final Grand Slam of the year, there are only a few who have been deemed as realistic contenders to win it all.
But the ones who come out on top may not be the ones you're expecting.
It may seem as though some of the men will have easier roads to the semis and the finals because of the conspicuous absence of Rafael Nadal, but in fact, some of them will be in for a reality check a lot sooner than the finals.
And even though it seems like nobody is capable of beating Serena Williams right now, is there someone who can stop her?
Here are some predictions for how things will shape up at this year's U.S. Open.
This Isn't Andy Murray's Year
Murray is a popular semi-sleeper pick for this year's Open, and for good reason: He's been playing some of the best tennis of his life over the last couple of months.
He's never won a major, but lately, he's certainly looked like he's on the verge. At Wimbledon, he made it to the final for the first time but bowed out to Roger Federer. A month later, on the same courts and against the same opponent, he avenged the loss, taking home the gold medal.
But given the fact that Murray is on the same side of the bracket as Federer, he'd likely have to beat him and Djokovic in order to lay claim to his first-ever major—and according to The Wall Street Journal's Jim Chairusmi, Murray is 0-5 against them in majors.
In fact, Murray may not even make it far enough to have the opportunity to face his fiercest rivals. He could have some tough competition way before the final—maybe in the form of Milos Raonic.
…And So Will Djokovic
The tennis world is eagerly waiting to see whether this is the moment Djokovic will turn it around, or whether the U.S. Open will just be another chapter in the same old story that has defined the once-dominant Serb for the last few months.
Since making a bid to win his fourth straight Grand Slam and subsequently losing in the French Open to Rafael Nadal, Djokovic has struggled. He lost to Federer in the Wimbledon semis, then lost to Murray in the Olympic semis.
With his toughest competition on the opposite side of the bracket, you'd think this would be the perfect time for Djokovic to right the ship. But he seems like the perfect candidate to fall into an unexpected trap match—just like he did against Murray in London this summer.
Isner Will Rise
Kind of like Murray, John Isner is a solid under-the-radar pick to sneak in there and win his first Grand Slam. And in the past, he's had just enough success at the U.S. Open to suggest he has a realistic shot.
Last year, Isner made it to the U.S. Open quarterfinals and he plays his best tennis on hard courts. He's coming into this tournament on the heels of a win in the Winston-Salem Open, when he admittedly didn't play his best tennis, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com. Before that, he made it to the semis at the Rogers Cup and the quarterfinals at the Olympics.
Perhaps he can ride that momentum into a solid showing here.
Serena Wins Again
Maybe this prediction isn't so bold.
The truth is, there doesn't seem to be anybody who can beat Serena right now. She demolished Maria Sharapova at the Olympic finals 6-0, 6-1, and as a result, she's the proud owner of the most lopsided women's final in the history of the Games, according to the AP via The Huffington Post. About a month prior to winning the gold, she won her fifth Wimbledon title, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska.
Now, Williams is the consensus favorite to earn her second straight Grand Slam, and it's easy to see why. She was utterly dominant at the Olympics, losing only 17 games in London, according to the AP—and there doesn't seem to be anyone who can realistically stand in her way.
Even defending champ Samantha Stosur thinks Williams has the best shot of winning. She told Reuters, via NBCSports.com:
Serena is probably the favorite coming in given her recent form. No matter who you are, I don't think you can really deny that.
Some momentum just can't be stopped, just like Williams.