Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were put on a quarter-final collision course for the US Open Thursday while Roger Federer’s hopes of an 18th grand slam title were buoyed by a kinder draw.
World number one Djokovic, who won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2011, is the top seed and will be trying to reach the final for a fifth straight year.
Djokovic opens his campaign against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. He could come up against 13th-seeded John Isner in the fourth round, but the big-serving American arrives in New York nursing an ankle injury that forced him out of the tournament in Winston-Salem on Thursday.
Eighth-seeded Murray, the 2012 US Open winner who hasn’t won a title since his emotional 2013 Wimbledon triumph, opens against Robin Haase of the Netherlands and could face a dangerous fourth-round clash with French ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer has a lighter-looking path in the bottom half of the draw, with seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov his scheduled quarter-final foe.
On the women’s side, two-time defending champion women’s champion Serena Williams could find two familiar rivals in her path as she vies for a first grand slam title of 2014.
World number one Williams is projected to face Serbian eighth seed Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals.
Although Williams leads their career head-to-head 7-1, former world number one Ivanovic ousted the American in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.
Williams could find herself up against another player who has managed to get the better of her on a major stage in the round of 16 – Australian Samantha Stosur.
Having failed to make it out of the fourth round at any grand slam this year, the 17-time major winner won’t be taking anything for granted, even against unheralded first-round opponent Taylor Townsend.
“The way my year’s been going, I’m worried about every single match,” said Williams, who despite her lack of grand slam success this year has looked strong in taking two hardcourt titles in three weeks in preparation for the Open.
“I feel like if I’m playing well, I have a chance to win my match, like I have the match on my racquet,” she said. “But anyone can surprise you.”