US Open 2017

US Open 2017: Rafael Nadal and Karolina Pliskova top seeds, but in firing line for No1 ranking

Rafael Nadal will be the top seed at the US Open ahead of Andy Murray, with Karolina Pliskova heading the women's draw

rafael nadal
Rafael Nadal is the top seed at the US Open in New York Photo: Marianne Bevis

This time last year, the names at the top of the seedings for the final Major of the year had a very different look.

Back then, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams had led their respective rankings for more than two and three years respectively, but after their chart-topping exploits, both would yield the No1 ranking to rivals by the season’s end. And this year, neither player will even come to New York.

Djokovic, after months plagued by arm and shoulder niggles, struggling with both form and confidence, and splitting with his long-standing coaching team, drew a line under his season following Wimbledon. Williams pulled the plug on 2017 after winning her 23rd Major in Australia, revealing that she was already pregnant and expecting her first child this autumn.

They, however, are not the only potential seeds who are absent from US Open following a summer of injuries among the elite.

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka, ranked No4, along with Kei Nishikori, ranked No10 and a semi-finalist in New York last year, have also abandoned the year to injury. On the women’s side, Timea Bacsinszky, Belinda Bencic and Sam Stosur will not play this year after being seeded in 2016. Ana Ivanovic has retired, while Victoria Azarenka’s return from having her first child has been put on hold by personal problems.

But the seedings have a very different look for happier reasons, too. The two men who missed much of 2016 with injury, and began 2017 ranked No9 and No17 respectively, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, have dominated proceedings this year to win all three Majors plus four Masters titles—and another ATP 500 title apiece. It means Nadal goes into the US Open as world No1 for the first time in over three years.

At No2, Andy Murray, who has been hindered by injuries of his own since the start of the grass season, leads Federer by only five points, and with a lot to defend until the end of the year, he could open the way for the Swiss to challenge Nadal for the No1 ranking for the first time in almost five years.

It is, then, a scenario that few expected to see when the seeds were announced in New York a year ago. And what also gives the proceedings an invigorating look is the impressive rise of a clutch of young players. Alexander Zverev was seeded 27 a year back, and still a teenager. But he was about to fulfil his prodigious promise, and has since risen to a career-high No6 this week on the back of a second Masters title in Montreal.

Meanwhile Grigor Dimitrov, after a slip in form last year, has come back into contention to nab a valuable top-eight spot. And 21-year-old Karen Khachanov was No95 last year and forced to play qualifiers. This year, he is seeded 26.

There are new faces among some mature improvers, too. Zverev’s elder brother, Mishca, was ranked 127 last year, and came through qualification to the second round. Gilles Muller was unseeded last year but won his first two titles this year to start next week at No20. And there is a welcome return from repeated surgeries for Juan Martin del Potro, seeded 25 this year after starting at 142 last year when he made the quarter-final.

The women’s draw will also see the battle for No1 engaged for the fifth time this year. Last year’s finalist, Karolina Pliskova, then ranked No10, took over the reins during Wimbledon, but Simona Halep, too, is just five points shy of her target, and with a clutch of other women jostling for position in her wake. Chief among them is No3 Garbine Muguruza, who has gone from strength to strength since winning Wimbledon. She is followed by one of the biggest risers in the women’s game, No4 Elina Svitolina. The 22-year-old was seeded 22 last year, but has won five titles already in 2017.

French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko, was ranked 36 last year, but now the 20-year-old is seeded 12, with more young blood breaking into the top 32 seedings via teenage Ana Konjuh and 21-year-old Anett Kontaveit.

But an old favourite and former US finalist, Caroline Wozniacki, is back in the top five after five first-round losses last season after foot injuries took her down to No74 by the time New York came around. Her upsurge began here: she made the semis, losing to eventual champion Angelique Kerber, who is this week down to No6.

And inside the top eight, and thus assured of not facing a higher seed until the quarters, is Johanna Konta, up from 13 last year.

Main draw seeds

Men

1 Rafael Nadal
2 Andy Murray
3 Roger Federer
4 Alexander Zverev
5 Marin Cilic
6 Dominic Thiem
7 Grigor Dimitrov
8 Milos Raonic
9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
10 David Goffin
11 John Isner
12 Roberto Bautista Agut
13 Pablo Carreno Busta
14 Jack Sock
15 Nick Kyrgios
16 Tomas Berdych
17 Lucas Pouille
18 Sam Querrey
19 Gael Monfils
20 Gilles Muller
21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas
22 David Ferrer
23 Fabio Fognini
24 Mischa Zverev
25 Juan Martin del Potro
26 Karen Khachanov
27 Richard Gasquet
28 Pablo Cuevas
29 Kevin Anderson
30 Diego Schwartzman
31 Adrian Mannarino
32 Feliciano Lopez

Women

1 Karolina Pliskova
2 Simona Halep
3 Garbiñe Muguruza
4 Elina Svitolina
5 Caroline Wozniacki
6 Angelique Kerber
7 Johanna Konta
8 Svetlana Kuznetsova
9 Venus Williams
10 Agnieszka Radwanska
11 Dominika Cibulkova
12 Jelena Ostapenko
13 Petra Kvitova
14 Kristina Mladenovic
15 Madison Keys
16 Anastasija Sevastova
17 Elena Vesnina
18 Caroline Garcia
19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
20 Coco Vandeweghe
21 Ana Konjuh
22 Shuai Peng
23 Barbora Strycova
24 Kiki Bertens
25 Daria Gavrilova
26 Anett Kontaveit
27 Shuai Zhang
28 Lesia Tsurenko
29 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
30 Julia Goerges
31 Magdalena Rybarikova
32 Lauren Davis

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