Zabaleta has been enjoying the best season of his career and has the ability to make an impression at Flushing Meadows.
World ranking: 27
US Open best:
2002: 1st round
The Argentine may have won his only two career titles on clay but, unlike many of his compatriots, has shown he can prosper on hard courts.
A run to the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2001 ended with defeat to Marat Safin, and this year he has already been to the semi-finals in Scottsdale.
Zabaleta has beaten Gustavo Kuerten, David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero already this season.
And he saw off Carlos Moya on his way to taking the Swedish Open title, on clay, in July.
One title, one final, two semi-finals and a last-16 place at the French Open add up to a good year, so far, for the 25-year-old.
But he is inconsistent and will have to keep a fiery temper under control in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Flushing Meadows.