The U.S. Open occupies a special place on the American sports calendar. Despite the fact that tennis is not one of the four “major” American sports, this is the one tournament that seems to draw Americans’ eyes to the sport. “The New York crowd are famously the best in tennis, and those who attend the about the beauty and atmosphere at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows. And even aside all this, the Open takes place during the perfect time of year: just before NFL football gets going and MLB pennant races reach the home stretch. 

All of this will lead a lot of people around the world and the United States particularly to turn their eyes to New York and the final Grand Slam on the tennis calendar for the next two weeks. If you’re among those people, these are 10 of the most interesting players you’ll want to keep your eye on for the action ahead. 

1. Serena Williams

Serena Williams has been in the news for reasons she’d probably rather not be of late – namely the French Open’s decision to disallow her “catsuit” and her response to the situation. But the reality of this U.S. Open is that the greatest player in WTP history is back at what’s effectively her home tournament one year after having a child and nearly losing her life. Williams will be the most compelling player at the tournament, and if she makes a run it won’t even be close. 

2. Roger Federer

This isn’t complicated. Federer may not be the top player in the world in the rankings (that’s Rafael Nadal) and he may even be showing some signs of slipping from his improbable 18-month run of dominance. But as long as he’s active and competitive he’s still the biggest draw, and you can be bet the crowds in New York will be trying to propel him to a record sixth U.S. Open title. 

3. Sloane Stephens

The New York crowd tends to rally around the Americans, and Sloane Stephen captured their hearts last year with an unlikely run to her first Grand Slam championship. She’s had an up-and-down season in 2018 but it’s clear that at her best she’s still capable of beating everyone on tour. All eyes will be on her as she attempts to repeat her incredible 2017 feat and lift the U.S. Open trophy.

4. Novak Djokovic

It feels as if Novak Djokovic is in the midst of a huge comeback, but perhaps rumors of his demise were understated. He won Wimbledon after a length absence from the top of the sport, and yet if you look back at the recent Wimbledon winners you realize he had last won in 2015, and 2014 before that. This is to say we’re not too far removed from Djokovic completely dominating the ATP, and he may be the logical favorite coming off his Wimbledon title. 

5. Madison Keys

Keys is another American darling who’s always fun to watch at the U.S. Open, and the crowd will have high expectations after she made it all the way to the final in 2017 before losing to her friend, Sloane Stephens. Lots of American fans are waiting for her to have a similar breakthrough to what Stephens experienced a year ago, which could even make her the crowd favorite (aside from Serena Williams of course). 

6. Frances Tiafoe

Here we have a version of the American darling on the men’s side. Frances Tiafoe is a talented and exciting young player, and while he’s had his struggles early on, he’s flashed potential as perhaps the best American in a generation. Last year he took Federer to five sets in an opening round match, and rest assured the crowds in New York will remember it. There will be a major effort from supporters to propel Tiafoe to a few wins this time around. 

7. Victoria Azarenka

Twice a finalist in New York, Azarenka has had some time away from tennis and is working on clawing her way back to the top. She missed direct entry into the tournament field but wound up getting in, and the crowd will be happy to see her. She’s always been a fan favorite, and she has the talent to make a run despite her low rank. 

8. Juan Martin del Potro

Somehow or other Juan Martin del Potro always manages to find himself in dramatic situations in New York. His five-set comeback victory over Dominic Thiem that went late into the night was the best match of the tournament in 2017. And when you factor in that Flushing Meadows is the location of his only Grand Slam title, there will be even more buzz around him. He’s not only a compelling player, but a dark horse pick for the men’s winner.

9. Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka is somewhat obscure compared to most of these names, at least to casual fans. But she’s one of the most skilled young players in the women’s game, and it has felt for a while like she’s on the cusp of a breakthrough. Osaka has beat a number of the best players on tour, but hasn’t really strung together enough of those wins to challenge for a Grand Slam. She could do it at any time, which makes her one of the best young stars to watch. 

10. Andy Murray

No one knows what to expect from Andy Murray. He’s had a long battle back from multiple injuries and procedures, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever make it back among the ATP elite. But tennis fans reward grit, talent, and sportsmanship, and he’s always shown all three. He’ll be welcomed back to New York, and he’s another one who, if he gets on a run, will start building some real buzz.