Five tennis players to look out for in Washington as hard-court season begins

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Tim Henman thinks Novak Djokovic can catch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic will have his eyes set on a third US Open crown following his recent Wimbledon success, but who else is there to look out for as the hard-court season begins?

The Serb won Flushing Meadows in 2011 and 2015, and despite struggling at recent Grand Slams before this year’s All England Club final, he has an exceptional record on the surface.

So does Roger Federer. Despite his Wimbledon quarter-final exit to Kevin Anderson, the Swiss is expected to provide the main competition to Djokovic alongside world No 1 Rafael Nadal, world No 3 Alexander Zverev and returning British favourite Andy Murray.

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Before the US Open gets started on August 27 there are a number of tournaments to look out for, including the Citi Open in Washington on July 30, the Rodgers Cup in Canada on August 6 and the Cincinnati Masters on August 13.

Here are five players to keep an eye on as we gear up for the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year.

John Isner

John Isner has already enjoyed a strong year on hard courts, winning the Miami Open back in April with an impressive comeback victory over Zverev to prevail 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 in the final.

The world No 9 retained his Atlanta Open title on Sunday, beating fellow American Ryan Harrison, and impressed on the big stage with a semi-final run at Wimbledon earlier this month, his best Grand Slam performance.

With one of the strongest serves in the game, the American No 1 will fancy his chances on home soil in the coming weeks.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Another player to impress on the surface this year is Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut who claimed titles at the Dubai Tennis Championships in March – his biggest career win to date – and the Auckland Open back in January.

He defeated Lucas Pouille 6-3 6-4 for his maiden 500 Series title in Dubai and Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 4-6 7-5 for his tournament win in New Zealand.

The world No 17 enjoys playing on hard courts with 12 of his 14 Tour finals coming on the surface.

Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Del Potro, currently No 4 in the world rankings, is definitely one to watch following his quarter-final run at Wimbledon earlier this month.

The Argentine favourite has enjoyed two fantastic hard-court results this year, firstly beating Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4 to win the 500 Series Mexico Open in March.

The second came at Indian Wells with a three-set triumph over Federer 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-2), while his sole Grand Slam title came at the upcoming US Open all the way back in 2009.

Kevin Anderson

This year’s surprise Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson makes the list. Beating players such as Gael Monfils, Federer and Isner on his way, he will be looking to carry that momentum into the next few tournaments.

The Citi Open in Washington gets underway on June 30 – live on Sky Sports Arena – with the South African looking to replicate last season’s edition, where he reached the final.

Anderson, the current world No 5, won the hard-court based New York Open in February.

Stan Wawrinka

Murray isn’t the only player looking to make a comeback in Washington as three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka attempts to rebuild some form on the hard courts.

The 2016 US Open champion is trying to put an injury-ridden year behind him – which has seen him play just 16 professional matches – after being offered a wild card for the Citi Open.

The Swiss has fallen down to No 201 in the world rankings but his hard-court record speaks for itself. He was a runner-up at Indian Wells last year to Federer and won the 500 Series Dubai Championships in 2016.

We have the US hardcourts covered from all angles via our website skysports.com/tennis. On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis to join in the conversation.

Our next tennis action comes from the German Open in Hamburg. Watch the action live on Sky Sports Arena from Monday, July 23 from 10am.

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