Despite his favourite tag, the 31-year-old Serb is only the sixth seed, and world No. 2 Federer has been handed the unenviable task of potentially taking him on in the last-eight.
"It was preparation. [During Cincinnati] I was resting from competing, not resting from working", Nadal said.
Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation.
Halep has been playing with confidence since winning the French Open and her preparations for the U.S. Open included a win at Montreal before reaching the Cincinnati final, though she pulled out from CT to rest an Achilles injury. "If you have to do it, this is one of the places".
"That's anyway how I felt way back when, coming to NY".
Here, Press Association Sport Tennis Correspondent Eleanor Crooks picks out 10 other players looking to make headlines in NY. And Novak was good. They have proved time and again that they have the guns to beat the best players in the world. "I do think it's a good thing", said Andy Murray, a three-time major champion.
Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev and seventh-seeded Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, are also in Federer's half of the draw.
'We can't control it. I'm not in a quarterfinal match yet.
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"Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool".
But Venus faces a potentially hard first-round match against 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who received a wild card into the main draw as she continues her return from left wrist surgery. That's what the focus needs to be, and then the draw is what it is. "They still need the win of a Slam, the win of a Masters 1000, whatever you want to call it, they still need to make that step", Federer told reporters. Top-seeded Simona Halep is coming in on a roll, having won the tuneup tournament in Montreal and made it to the final in Cincinnati, and fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber, the reigning Wimbledon champion, remains a threat.
Wawrinka, a three-time major champ who won the 2016 U.S. Open, faces No. 8 seed Grigor Dimitrov to get things started in Ashe - Wawrinka beat Dimitrov in the first round at Wimbledon - followed by Venus Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova in a matchup of past titlists in NY.
"I don't remember the years anymore, but the two semis with match points were tough against Novak", Federer said. "Of course I won on clay, but then to win on hard again is something that means a lot to me, especially here in NY".
"For a long period I think I was not losing much", Federer said, "and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day".
"I think there are explanations for everything, especially the last two years, and the other ones were just close, which is unfortunate, I guess.
He noted that his five titles on the trot came during a remarkable stretch of dominance on the men's tour, which helped carry him through all the demanding conditions the US Open offers - with night sessions, noisy crowds and the hectic pace of life in NY reflected in the tournament. "So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest", Federer said.
The 2009 US Open champion is in top form having reached the finals in Los Cobos Open and beating Nick Kyrgios in the Cincinnati Open. Has points to defend after reaching the fourth round a year ago.
Federer would know; it was the Swiss man whom Djokovic defeated in Cincinnati.