Rafael Nadal has a golden opportunity to win his 19th Slam—unless someone new, like Matteo Berrettini, steps up majorly. (Getty)

Much like on the women's side, the men's half of the US Open has come down to one all-time great versus a handful of never-been-there-before hopefuls.

Fans have come to expect multiple top names late in the second week. But with injuries—and Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov—getting in the way of Novak Djokovic's and Roger Federer's fortnights, Rafael Nadal is the only man standing to have previously won a Grand Slam, or have even made a major final. 

Here are the four competitors who stand between Nadal and his 19th Slam: 

1

Daniil Medvedev

Ranking: No. 5

Age: 23

Medvedev's breakthrough hard-court summer started at the Citi Open in Washington, where he beat 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic on his way to the final, and he's been soaring ever since. With another final run at the Rogers Cup, an ATP Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and his defeat of Stan Wawrinka (and the crowd) to make the semifinals of the US Open, Medvedev has lived up to his billing as a serious threat to win in New York. (Nadal won that Montreal final against Medvedev, 6-3, 6-0.) 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2

Grigor Dimitrov 

Ranking: No. 78

Age: 28

Dimitrov, Medvedev's semifinals opponent, has been having, by his standards, an abysmal year—as evidenced by the former No. 3's drop to No. 78 in the world. But he's turned it around completely this US Open, with his first career win over Federer on Tuesday. He'll need to be in career-best form, though, if he wants to get past Medvedev to reach his first Slam final. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3

Matteo Berrettini

Ranking: No. 25

Age: 23

Italy's Berrettini, who's won two ATP titles this year, on the Budapest clay and Stuttgart grass, is into his first major semifinal. In his second main draw in Flushing Meadows, he's beaten challengers from all generations—including Richard Gasquet, Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils—to give himself his first big shot on the grandest stage. He awaits the winner of Nadal and Diego Schwartzman. 

4

Diego Schwartzman

Ranking: No. 21

Age: 27

But before Berrettini, Nadal will have to win his quarterfinal versus Schwartzman, against whom the Spaniard has a 7-0 record, including a 6-3, 6-1 Nadal win in Indian Wells this year. However, Schwartzman comes into the quarterfinals on the back of a solid summer, with a title in the Los Cabos hard-court tournament in August and a four-set win in Arthur Ashe Stadium over No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev. 

Nadal's quest for his 19th Slam (one away from Federer, but who's counting?) continues on Wednesday night, in the last match on Arthur Ashe, against Schwartzman. 


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