While all eyes are on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the 2008 U.S. Open, several young players continue to advance and provide a glimpse of what the future of men's tennis will look like.
Two teenagers -- 19-year-old Argentine Juan Martin del Potro and 18-year-old Kei Nishikori of Japan -- won thrilling five-set matches and will now face each other in the round of 16. Del Potro outlasted France's Gilles Simon, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The Argentine won four straight summer hard court tournaments heading into the U.S. Open and looks ready to be a continuous factor on the ATP Tour. Del Potro's success was expected, while Nishikori stunned last year's semifinalist and the no. 4 seed, David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5. Nishikori is the first Japanese man to ever reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open and only the second Japanese man ever to advance this far at any Grand Slam. Also remaining in the tournament is 20-year-old American Sam Querry, an upset winner over 14th seeded Ivo Karlovic. Querry's reward for his excellent play? A date with top-ranked Rafa Nadal. Del Potro, Nishikori and Querry will all appear in the fourth round of a major for the first time in their career.
Practically an old man by comparison, French phenom Gael Monfils is following up his run to the French Open semifinals earlier this year with impressive play in New York. Monfils easily beat 7th-seed David Nalbandian in straight sets. Monfils will turn 22 years old on Monday.
The future may not be now, but juding from the action we've seen during the first week of this year's U.S. Open, it is right around the corner.