By Amy Moritz
Disappointing Olympic performances aside, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic are the No. 1 seeds for the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday and once again, they will make for a compelling tournament.
Williams, who said she was dealing with a shoulder problem in Rio, is going for her 23rd Grand Slam victory, which would lift her past Steffi Graf for most major titles in the modern era. Djokovic, who was dealing with a wrist problem in Rio, is the top seed for a third straight year and has 12 major titles.
What’s common between them is their ability to fend off the younger set. Williams will turn 35 next month while Djokovic is 29. Both have dominated younger players in recent years. During the time Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slams only two younger players (Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic) have won a major.
The last three years Williams has ended the season ranked No. 1 ahead of much younger, and presumably hungrier, competition. As sports science reveals better training and recovery techniques, age becomes less relevant. Experience becomes a powerful tool.