A beginner's guide to this year's U.S. Open

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Maria Sharapova Backs Out of US Open


With the U.S. Open opening this week in New York City, it's easy to get swept up in the vast coverage and storylines that the event offers. But, if we're being honest, diehard tennis fans these days are few and far between.

Don't worry, we have the casual fan -- and the complete novice -- in mind, so that you can follow along with this week's action with a clue.

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Starting Monday and running all the way through Sept. 13, the U.S. Open is one of tennis' biggest events. So before it really gets into full swing, read through our handy list, and you'll be a tennis pro (well, you'll know what's going on) in no time.

Men's and women's matches are scattered across 17 courts over 14 days.
With a massive amount of tennis being played over the two-week stretch, the tournament would obviously drag on for weeks if not for simultaneous play -- and a lot of it.

To speed things up -- in the early going, particularly -- play is split up between 17 courts. These include four "show courts" (Arthur Ashe, Louis Armstrong, Grandstand and Court 17, which is an incredibly intimate court that's actually sunken below ground level) and 13 "field courts." There are also five practice courts.

Arthur Ashe Stadium just got a major facelift.

2015 U.S. Open - Day 1

The most noteworthy of those courts is Arthur Ashe, coming in the facility's main arena. Over recent months, the stadium has been under construction, adding new lights, sound and video screens. A retractable roof has been in the works, but that won't be complete until next year's event.

It will be a little while before we see some great tennis.
It's important to understand that the opening few weeks won't be featuring the top-notch matches. Think about the NCAA Tournament but more bland and with even more people you've never heard of. You'll get a great match here and there, but for the most part, the big fish will wipe out the little fish -- fairly handily.

It's going to be HOT.

Taking a look at the forecast via weather.com, the opening week of play is going to be SO HOT. After that, it may cool off a bit, and also get more wet and humid. Either way, player's won't exactly be comfortable, and the longer the matches last, the sloppier play may be.

A total of $42.3 million will be awarded.
That total is more than the other three majors of the tennis season -- Wimbeldon, the French Open and Australian Open. Both the men's and women's winners will receive $3.3 million, while the winning doubles teams will earn more than a half-million.

Marin Čilić, last year's men's winner, is seeded ninth. But a repeat is unlikely.

2015 US Open - Previews

Čilić pulled off the stunner a year ago, but on the men's side, no player has repeated as champion since Roger Federer won five straight from 2004 through 2008.

It's been more than a decade since an American man won.
To that point, the last American to win was Andy Roddick in 2003 -- who actually made it back-to-back Americans following Pete Sampras' 2002 win.f this year's 15 USA players in the tournament, just two are seeded -- John Isner and Jack Sock.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are the two top seeded men.
This should come as no surprise, with Djokovic aiming for his third grand slam win of the season, and Federer always a threat to hoist a trophy. Djokovic knocked off Federer in the final round of Wimbeldon earlier this summer.

Maria Sharapova won't be participating.
In a stunning turn of events, Maria Sharapova pulled out of the event just hours in advance, citing a leg injury. Sharapova won the U.S. Open in 2006 as a 19-year-old.

Serena Williams has won the women's title the past three years -- but even more history is on the line.

2014 US Open - Day 14

Even at 33 years old, Serena Williams seems to just be hitting her peak. She's already solidified yet another "Serena Slam," which refers to Williams taking home the title in four consecutive Grand Slams. With that feat already achieved, she's out to do what no woman has done since Steffi Graf in 1988: Win every Grand Slam major of the season.

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A win in Flushing wouldn't just secure the four-peat for Serena, but put her in territory that only Graf, Margaret Court and Maureen Connolly Brinker have reached. There's little debate that Serena is the best to ever do it. A victory this September at Arthur Ashe would just be icing on the cake.

Click through to see past US Open winners throughout history:

US Open winners
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A beginner's guide to this year's U.S. Open
American tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943 - 1993) holds up his trophy after winning the first ever US Open as his opponent Tom Okker of the Netherlands looks on and smiles at the West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York, September 9, 1968. Ashe, 25, is the first Black player to win a Grand Slam title, but due to his amateur status, he will not receive the $14, 000 prize money. (Photo by Authenticated News/Getty Images)
British tennis player Virginia Wade in action during the 1968 US Open at the West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York, September 9, 1968. Wade went on to beat Billie Jean King and win the tournament. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Australian tennis player Rod Laver holds the trophy after winning the US Open Men's Singles Championship at Forest Hills in New York, USA on Sept. 8, 1969. He beat fellow countryman Tony Roche, unseen, by 7-9, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. (AP Photo)
Margaret Court of Australia slams a return to Patti Hogan of La Jolla, Calif., Sept. 5, 1970 in second round play at the U.S. Open Championships in Forest Hills, NY. Miss Court needed only 27 minutes to eliminate the American, 6-1, 6-1. Miss Court needs a win in the U.S. Open to become the first woman since 1953 to make grand slam sweep of major women's titles. (AP Photo)
Ilie Nastase, 26, a native of Bucharest, Romania, holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Forest Hills, N.Y., Sept. 10, 1972. Nastase became the first European to win the men's title since 1934. He defeated American Arthur Ashe (right), 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. (AP Photo/John Rooney Jr.)
Reigning Wimbledon Queen Billie Jean King returns volley to Esme Emmanuel of South Africa in U.S. Open tennis action at Forest Hills, New York on Sept. 3, 1972. The Long Beach, Calif., native handily defeated Emmanuel 6-1, 6-3, in the second round match. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine)
John Newcombe of Australia holds his 5-year old son, Clint, in one arm, and the trophy he won as men's singles champion in the U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Forest Hills Sept. 9, 1973. Newcombe beat Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia, 6-4, 1-6, 5-6, 6-2, 6-3. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
U.S. Number three seeded Jimmy Connors uses both hands as he backhands the ball to Swedish opponent Stefan Edberg during the men's singles quarter final of the French Open Tennis Tournaments at Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Wednesday, June 5, 1985. Connors won 6-4, 6-3, 7-6. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Spain's Manuel Orantes prepares to return the ball to Jimmy Connors during their men's singles final in the U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Forest hills, Sept. 8, 1975. Orantes whipped Connors 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, to win the title and 25,000. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Argentina's Guillermo Vilas holds the U.S. Tennis championship trophy like a crown after winning the title at Forest Hills, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 11, 1977. Vilas defeated defending champion Jimmy Connors, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Top seeded Chris Evert watches her shot in the Sept. 7, 1977 match against Nancy Richey of San Angelo, Tex., in the U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Forest Hills, N.Y. Miss Evert won 6-3, 6-0. (AP Photo)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: John McEnroe after beating Borg Bjorn in mens finals at U.S. Open (Photo by Anthony Casale/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Tracy Austin holds up the first prize cup in the 1979 U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y., Sept. 9, 1979. Austin beat the defending champ Chris Evert Lloyd 6-4, 6-3 for the impressive win. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Martina Navratilova reacts after winning the women's singles title at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, on September 10, 1983, in New York. Navratilova captured the title for the first time by defeating Chris Evert Lloyd in two sets 6-1, 6-3. (AP Photo)
FLUSHING MEADOWS, QUEENS, NY - SEPTEMBER 7: Tennis player Hana Mandlikova plays in the 1985 US Tennis Open: Women's Finals: Hana Mandlikova vs. Martina Navratilova on September 7, 1985 at USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Ivan Lendl hits a shot back at John McEnroe in the finals of the $265,000 Transamerica Open tennis tournament at San Francisco's Cow Palace, Sept. 25, 1983. Lendl won 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. (AP Photo)
U.S. Open third men’s seed Mats Wilander watches his serve clear the net as he plays against John Ross at the National Tennis Center, Sept. 2, 1987 in New York. Wilander won 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett)
Boris Becker of West Germany raises his trophy, after defeating Ivan Lendl in the final to win his first U.S. Open championship, at Flushing Meadows, New York City, on September 11, 1989. (AP Photo/Adam Stoltman)
Top seed Steffi Graf reacts after winning a point during her match against fifth seed Gabriela Sabatini at the U.S. Open in New York, Tuesday Sept. 7, 1993. Graf won 6-2, 5-7, 6-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Pete Sampras of Bradenton, Fla. celebrates his hard-won win against Todd Martin on Saturday, Sept. 5, 1992 at New York's U.S. Open. Sampras won 7-6, 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Fifth seed Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina slaps a forehand to Rene Simpson-Alter of Canada at the U.S. Open in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1993. Sabatini won 6-3, 6-0. (AP Photo/Paul Hurschmann)
Stefan Edberg of Sweden hits a return volley to fellow countryman Jonas Svensson during their U.S. Open match on Sunday, Sept. 6, 1992 in New York. Edberg won 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Monica Seles of Sarasota, Fla., celebrates after defeating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to win the women’s singles championship of the U.S. Open on Saturday, Sept. 12, 1992 in New York. Seles defeated Sanchez Vicario in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan)
Andre Agassi holds up his championship trophy after defeating Michael Stich to win the U.S. Open, in New York Sunday, Sept. 11, 1994. Agassi won the French Open in Paris Sunday, June 6, 1999, defeating Andrei Medvedev 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Agassi became only the fifth man, and first American in 61 years, to win all four majors _ Wimbledon in 1992, the U.S. Open in 1994, the Australian in 1995, and now the French. As proof of his versatility, he is the first to do it on three different surfaces. (AP Photo/ Richard Drew)
Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario reacts after defeating Steffi Graf to win the women's singles final at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Sept. 10, 1994. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
As seen through the net, Australia's Patrick Rafter reacts after winning a point against Great Britain's Greg Rusedski during the men's singles finals match at the U.S. Open in New York Sunday, Sept. 7, 1997. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Martina Hingis, seeded 16th, of Switzerland, celebrates after beating third seed Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain during their women's singles tennis match at U.S. Open in New York Monday, Sept. 2, 1996. Hingis won the match 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Lindsay Davenport, of Newport Beach, Calif., celebrates after her 6-3, 7-5 win against Martina Hingis, of Switzerland, in their finals match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Saturday, Sept. 12, 1998, in New York. (AP Photo/Osamu Honda)
Serena Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. celebrates her win over Lindsay Davenport, of Newport Beach, Calif., at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Friday, Sept. 10, 1999, in New York. Williams won 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Sixth-seed Marat Safin of Russia sends a backhand to opponent Thierry Guardiola, of France, during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2000, in New York. Safin won 7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Lleyton Hewitt of Australia returns a shot to Jan-Michael Gambill at the Pacific Life Open, Thursday, March 14, 2002, in Indian Wells, Calif. Hewitt won the match 6-2, 6-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Venus Williams, of the United States, smiles with her trophy after defeating Lindsay Davenport in the women's finals at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Saturday, Sept. 9, 2000, in New York. Williams won 6-4, 7-5. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Andy Roddick, of the USA, celebrates his win over Martin Verkerk, of The Netherlands, during a first-round match at the US Open Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2002 in New York. 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
Justine Henin, of Belgium, celebrates after upsetting 12th seed Anna Kournikova at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Saturday, Sept. 2, 2000, in New York. Henin won 6-4, 7-6 (5). (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, is all smiles after her match with Mary Pierce, of France at the U. S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Sept. 6, 2004. Kuznetsova won 7-6, 6-2. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)
Novak Djokovic, left, of Serbia applauds as Roger Federer of Switzerland holds up the championship trophy after winning the men's finals at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, reacts during her match against Lindsay Davenport, of the United States, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Friday, Sept. 5, 2003. Clijsters won, 6-2 6-3. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts returns to Dally Randriantefy of Madagascar at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Wednesday Aug. 31, 2005. Sharapova won the match 6-1, 6-0. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Juan Martin del Potro, of Argentina, reacts after winning the men's finals championship over Roger Federer, of Switzerland, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Sept. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after defeating Bobby Reyholds of the United States at the end of their match during the US Open tennis tournament in New York Monday Aug. 29, 2005. Nadal won 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
Samantha Stosur of Australia reacts after winning the women's championship match against Serena Williams at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates his win over Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Friday, Aug. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Andy Murray, of Britain, reacts after winning the second set over Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during their semifinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Marin Cilic of Croatia celebrates with the trophy after defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan to win the men's singles final match on Day fifteen of the 2014 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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