World No. 1 Rafael Nadal heads into the 2017 US Open as the top seed, but the Spaniard is also in the draw amidst some recent struggles. After winning the french open earlier this season he had losses to Gilles Muller, Denis Shapovalov, and Nick Kyrgios. Entering the final Grand Slam of the year, Nadal has not won a hard court title since early 2014. However, he does have an agreeable draw through the first four rounds of the 2017 Us Open.

Inexperienced players in early rounds

Nadal will open his tournament in Flushing Meadows against Dusan Lajovic.

The Serbian player is a little bit of a clay-courter, but his career has been disappointing so far. Now 27 years old, he has yet to make the top 50. In two previous appearances at Flushing Meadows, Lajovic has not advanced out of the first round. With only one third-round appearance or better in any major, this player should be easy pickings for Nadal even through Rafa doesn't appear to be at his very best right now.

Looking ahead in the draw, Nadal would face either Taro Daniel or Tommy Paul in the 2nd round. Neither of those players has ever won a 2nd-round match in a major. With Paul that could be attributed to his youth. However, the fact is that if Nadal makes the 2nd round as expected, he would face a very inexperienced player.

Nadal could face Gasquet and/or Berdych

In the third round Nadal is projected to face a veteran. The seeded player nearest to Rafa is Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman has enjoyed Grand Slam success before, including at Flushing Meadows where he made the semifinals in 2013. But Nadal is 15-0 against Gasquet, which includes two victories in New York over the years.

If Gasquet doesn't make the third round then that would simply put Nadal against a player of little experience again.

In the fourth round, Nadal is projected to play Tomas Berydych. The Czech player is in fact in decent form and he's won his quarter in majors a fair number of times over the course of his career. But Nadal carries a 19-4 record against Berdych.

Looking well ahead, Nadal shares a draw to the semifinals with Grigor Dimitrov. The 7th-seeded Bulgarian is in top form as he won the Cincinnati Masters last weekend. He will be looking to make amends for lost time as this is a player that was once tipped for the top. At the age of 26 he still has time and he is an interesting player to keep an eye on in the men's singles draw.

By and large, Nadal has a very nice draw all the way to the quarterfinals. Should he not survive that long it certainly wouldn't be attributable to poor luck, but would likely just reflect on his level of play on the hard court surface. The action at Flushing Meadows starts on Monday with the order of play pending at this point.