WHERE better for brash young trendsetters to make themselves household names than New York?

They love an underdog story in the Big Apple and one of the main question marks in both the men’s and women’s draws at this week’s US Open at Flushing Meadows is whether one of the young pretenders will step up to the plate.

Rather than Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic, it is arguable that the headline act at this year’s tournament is a 15-year-old who required a wild card just to get in the first round. Savvy tournament organisers were always likely to find space in their draw for Coco Gauff after she captured the imagination in such a big way at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round before giving eventual winner Simona Halep more of a match than even Serena Williams managed.

John McEnroe, perhaps the quintessential enfant terrible from the New York scene, feels everyone has a responsibility to ensure it isn’t too much too soon for young Coco. But he also admits she has the potential to become the best player on the planet.

“Her parents seem to be in charge of everything,” said McEnroe, speaking on behalf of ESPN.co.uk. “They are obviously and understandably excited as she brought an incredible shot of adrenaline to Wimbledon. I’m praying for them because I think she’s a tremendous — I only met her a couple times, but she seems like a tremendous girl. She obviously could be the best player in the world if things go right. There’s a lot of people, myself included, that hope she’s handled in the right way so she can enjoy her career the next 15, 20 years, and not burn out at a young age.

"To me, less is more," he added. "Let’s try to keep this where it doesn’t get crazy too soon. That’s a dilemma that a lot of younger players face as they work their way up the ladder. It’s a key to understanding success. How can you expect a 15-year-old to understand and be able to handle what is being thrust at her.”

The next instalment of Williams’ quest for that elusive 24th Grand Slam – to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record – is another engaging plotline, particularly at a venue where implosions have been such a regular occurrence. Rightly or wrongly, Carlos Ramos, the man on the other end of last year's outburst in the final against Naomi Osake, has been told he will officiate at none of her matches.

But this pattern of young pretenders attempting to challenge the established order is also crucial to the men’s draw. While Nick Kyrgios has shown signs of using his extravagant talents in a more coherent manner recently, and young guns like Felix-Auger Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas are worthy of respect, the name on everyone’s lips all of a sudden is Daniil Medvedev of Russia, a man who conquered Djokovic en route to the Cincinnati Masters title. A willowy giant who moves surprisingly well, the Russian hits a big ball off either wing and is crafty with it. McEnroe might still be tipping one of the big three for the title, but he cannot fail to be impressed.

“There’s a couple guys that at least look like they’ve got plans to beat the big three,” said McEnroe. “Medvedev is the guy to me that best looks like he’s awkward, people don’t like playing him. He understands strategy and subtleties of the game better than almost any of the other younger players. I find him the most interesting sort of mentally right now. I think there’s some young guys catching up. Hopefully we’ll see some breakthroughs this year.

“Nick's talking more and saying more of the right things," McEnroe added. "We all saw the meltdown in Cincy. You also saw him win the tournament in Washington. Sort of the full rollercoaster ride in a way. He’s had difficulty rising to the occasion against the guys that he should beat as opposed to the top guys. But the guy has one of the best serves in the game. To me he’s the most talented player in terms of tennis talent in 10 years. He exhibited that when he wanted to. Hopefully he’s going to want to do it here.

“I think it would be better for tennis if some of these young guys actually beat Novak, Rafa or Roger before they actually quit. It’s not like the young guys finally win because they’ve stopped. To me that would be more interesting.”

While the US Open gets under way, Andy Murray will be at Nadal's home base in Mallorca, playing in his first Challenger event for 14 years. “That’s obviously his decision," said McEnroe. "If he thought he was ready to play and compete and challenge, he would have played. I've only saw him play the one singles match, against [Richard] Gasquet, and not surprisingly he looked tentative, not sure of his movement, play, et cetera. It’s getting sort of the cobwebs out. Not everyone can take six months off, have a surgery like Roger did, go win a major. That was superhuman.

“Andy’s injury is more serious I think. Listen, if the guy’s healthy, he’ll be back in the top 10. If he’s not going to be able to move very close to what he was, I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep playing. That’s my personal opinion."