Roger Federer has actually lost a little bit of favor with the tennis pundits. He suffered a minor back tweak in Montreal a couple of weeks ago at the 2017 Rogers Cup. Since that time he pulled out of Cincinnati, a move that was no doubt made to ensure that he would be healthy for the upcoming Grand Slam. "At the moment we're just assuming that Roger is going to pull the rabbit out of the hat again," John Mcenroe said of Federer entering the 2017 Us Open (qtd. at Yahoo Sports/August 23rd). Federer also spoke recently in New York in a short interview that was published to Tennis HD's Youtube account.

Federer happy to be back

Federer missed last season's US Open for the first time in years. He spoke of his return to New York and the changes that have taken place in the last two years. He said that it was "great to be back" after not being in New York in what he described as "a long time." The five-time champion at the event (2004 to 2008 inclusive) spoke of this week as a "preparation week" so that he could be "ready for Monday."

But the Swiss Maestro has not been all about confidence lately. In days prior he made remarks that either strategically downplayed his chances or hinted at pessimism. It could be the latter because he did have the back problem and there is a growing confidence among some young players, especially Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, and Grigor Dimitrov.

That said, it's impossible to take your eye off of Federer for a split second. When McEnroe stated that Federer could pull a rabbit out of a hat it was likely not in jest.

Let's be skeptical of Dimitrov and Zverev too

But many are calling for other contenders to rise up, especially Dimitrov and Zverev. If Federer's chances are to be criticized, then those two players surely deserve some skepticism as well.

Dimitrov has never made a Grand Slam final and he only won Cincinnati after all the other strong hard courters pulled out. With Zverev, here is a player that simply has not mastered the best-of-five-set format yet. Despite his victory in Montreal, let's go back to Rome when he won that Masters title earlier this year. He entered the French Open with all kinds of supporters believing in a deep run and then he went out in the first round.

This is a young player that could be in for a dosage of growing pains.

As a reverse point, Zverev will be a very-high seed in Flushing Meadows thanks to all the players that have pulled out. That's a new development for him. It won't be like the Australian Open at the start of the year where he had to play Rafael Nadal in the third round, a match that Zverev lost in five sets.

The 2017 US Open certainly isn't completely wide open, but it feels like draw luck is more important this tournament than in a lot of other ones. Nick Kyrgios isn't ranked that high: a valid question is who will he share a draw to the quarters with? John Isner, Tomas Berdych, Sam Querrey, and Kevin Anderson are big-serving middle-to-low seeds.

They could pose big problems for the top guys in the third or fourth round. Who gets the draw luck may decide who gets the efficient matches and the rest in the early rounds. That, in turn, should set up the lucky player with a chance to conserve energy for the late stages. The draw comes out this week and with it will come a ton of more-insightful analysis as the complexion of the favorites promises to change.