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The hole Rafael Nadal created

Updated: June 25, 2013, 3:46 PM ET
By Howard Bryant | ESPN.com

LONDON -- When the draw for the 2012 US Open was released, the missing name of Rafael Nadal was expected to create a massive ripple effect of opportunity for the rest of the field. One of the big four was missing, and that meant at least one-quarter of the draw contained a soft underbelly who would emerge as a semifinalist.

In New York, the targeted weak link was the fourth seed, the always-underestimated David Ferrer. Fashionable picks were made. Big-serving John Isner was in that bracket. ...

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