But emerging stars of the future, plus former champions who have slipped down the ranking but still have the ability to beat almost anyone on their day, means it's never plain sailing for the seeded few.
The first two and a half days of US Open 08 has seen the tournament take shape nicely. Already we have had a handful of five set thrillers. I especially enjoyed Blake v Donald.
Blake showed why so many people (including me) are always rooting for him. Big shots and big heart. But he also showed (again) why he hasn't and probably won't win a slam. His mind and concentration and nerve have a bad habit of wwandering when he needs them the most. Still he's through to round two.
Donald was a revelation. As freakyfrites says he has...
...a brilliant, all-court game in the electric atmosphere of Arthur Ashe stadium. He looked so complete - great lefty serve, ripping forehand, Djokovic-worthy backhand, Blake-like movement and killer feel at net (a talent all his own.) And the most promising development in his game? He was enjoying himself!
Other highlights include Rafa being pushed hard by a player I've literally never heard off, and of course Safin. Marat is usually good value for money and the former champion beat Vince Spadea in 5. But only after a major row with the umpire. Didn't see it myself but here's the report from the BBC:
The Russian had to recover his poise after he was foot-faulted on a second serve at deuce while serving to stay in the fourth set.
Safin received a warning for swearing as he angrily argued with the umpire Carlos Ramos and briefly sat in his chair, refusing to play on.
The double fault gave Spadea a set point, which he converted to take the match into a decider. But despite his anger, Safin broke in the first game of the fifth set and served superbly to seal a place in round two.
Safin was still seething when he answered questions in his post-match press conference. "It's stupid rules that somebody made in 1850 and now they give me the problems with these things and it shouldn't be that way," he said. "How can a guy see... a foot fault... with sunglasses from 35 metres away. It doesn't make any sense."
And finally, good to see Tsonga back in action. I saw the first two sets and it wouldn't have surprised me if he had crashed out. He was terrible. Shot selection was poor and execution even worse. But he shook off the rust after losing the first set and won it in 4.