michelle obama (2013 us open) *The US Open draw is out and competition for the last major men’s and women’s trophies of the 2013 tennis season begins on Monday, August 26.

“The most exciting Grand Slam,” called so due to the energy from its uniquely raucous environment, is held every year at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY and is the most attended annual sporting event in the world.

To kick off the two-week – book ending the Labor Day holiday – tournament of “bring it or go home” professional tennis, a special address was made by First Lady Michelle Obama on Saturday during Arthur Ashe Kids Day, reinforcing her appreciation for the  inclusion of the sport in her Let’s Move campaign.   Also contributing to the excitement of the start of the prestigious event, popular rocker and actor (“The Butler”) Lenny Kravitz will entertain the crowds during the opening night ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

This year’s tournament (including the qualifying rounds) will feature a loaded field of hungry men and women battling it out to be the last ones standing, including a host of Americans charged with the extra task of also representing for their home country.

The Americans in this year’s field, including 6 women (S. Williams, V. Williams, S. Stephens, M. Keys, V. Duval, T. Townsend)  and 2 men (D. Young, J. Blake) of color, are as follows:

Men’s Singles

Collin Altamirano
Brian Baker
James Blake
Gage Brymer
Jeff Dadamo
Jared Donaldson
Bjorn Fratangelo
Robby Ginepri
Ryan Harrison
John Isner
Jarmere Jenkins
Steve Johnson
Bradley Klahn
Austin Krajicek
Mitchell Krueger
Denis Kudla
Alex Kuznetsov
Mackenzie McDonald
Dennis Novikov
Wayne Odesnik
Sam Querrey
Rajeev Ram
Bobby Reynolds
Noah Rubin
Michael Russell
Tennys Sandgren
Tim Smyczek
Jack Sock
Rhyne Williams
Donald Young

Women’s Singles  

Jan Abaza
Brooke Austin
Madison Brengle
Mallory Burdette
Louisa Chirico
Julia Cohen
Lauren Davis
Victoria Duval
Irina Falconi
Nicole Gibbs
Jamie Hampton
Chieh-Yu Hsu
Madison Keys
Allie Kiick
Vania King
Varvara Lepchenko
Jamie Loeb
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Christina McHale
Grace Min
Brianna Morgan
Melanie Oudin
Alison Riske
Shelby Rogers
Maria Sanchez
Chiara Scholl
Sloane Stephens
Taylor Townsend
Coco Vandeweghe
Sachia Vickery
Venus Williams
Serena Williams

Though the US is well-represented this year in both the men’s and women’s fields, there are a handful who are ones to watch due to their notable performances leading up to the tournament.

On the women’s side, current world no. 1 and defending champion, Serena Williams, is the clear favorite to win based on her unmatched 2013 season results (8 titles, 1 final), but players Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton and Madison Keys should be kept on the radar due to their rapid growth this season.  Stephens has earned a reputation for going deep in Slams, having taken out Serena Williams to make the semis of the ’13 Australian Open earlier this year. Also, Venus Williams hasn’t been seeing the results she’s been wishing for since her return from injury and illness, but she can never be counted out due to her dangerous arsenal of weaponry when clicking on all cylinders.

On the men’s side, top American, John Isner, has built incredible momentum leading up to this critical point, having recently beaten world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and severely tested Spanish front runner Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati.  The 6′ 10″ American’s big serve and improved groundstrokes and footwork could pay dividends on the Flushing hard courts.  Eyes are especially on Isner because he appears to be the only viable hope in American tennis at the present time, while his fellow countrymen struggle to find their footing. In fact, until Isner recently re-entered, for the first time since tennis rankings were established, there was no American male in the top 20; It remains to be seen how he’ll deal with the pressure at the Open.

This year’s draw has produced plenty of tantalizing 1st round and potential later rounds matchups, including Serena playing former Slam champion, Francesca Schiavone, in round 1 and with the potential to avenge her AO loss to Sloane Stephens in the 4th; Venus Williams with a chance to avenge her recent stinging loss to Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) also in the 1st round and possibly go on to battle Serena in the qtrs;  an on fire Madison Keys meeting up with a returning-to-form former world no. 1, Jelena Jankovic (SRB); Roger Federer, seeded 7, having to get through Rafael Nadal and one of the other top contenders, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray, to earn another Slam title, etc.

Play begins at 11 a.m. on Monday and continuing coverage and results can found here at eurweb.com.