The final slam of the year is upon us with the US Open kicking off in New York. Novak Djokovic looks to carry on where he left off at Wimbledon, having defended his title there. The World No.1 will be the favourite to do so here too with the usual suspects in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal following. The most notable absentee will be that of 2009 champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who is still having injury woes.
Full draw here: US Open men’s 2019 Draw
Watch the US Open 2019 Live Stream Here.
Djokovic moved to 16 grand slams with his Wimbledon victory and could well be tied with Rafael Nadal heading into the French Open next year. He was thwarted by Daniil Medvedev for the second time this year in Cincinnati but will not be too concerned, with other shock losses throughout the year seeming to have no impact when it came to the slams. It should be a fairly routine opening week for Djokovic although Sam Querrey will be hoping for an inspired performance on home turf. The American’s big serve can often be dangerous as he displayed once more with another deep run at Wimbledon in July. Djokovic will be projected to play a former finalist in round four although an improving Hubert Hurkacz will hope to spoil the fun for Kevin Anderson and Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka beat Djokovic in the 2016 final for his third slam while Anderson was a losing finalist the following year to Rafael Nadal. Anderson last played at Wimbledon where he was outplayed in straight sets by Guido Pella while Wawrinka has not had a great time following a respectable quarter final at Roland Garros. He failed to make it past his second match in any of the four events following, including Canada and Cincinnati.
It is something of a disappointment that a rematch with Daniil Medvedev will have to come as early as the quarter finals. The Russian is developing into one of the best players in the world and has three straight finals to his name now. He lost in Washington and Canada before securing the title in Cincinnati, beating David Goffin in the final. He has added extra consistency to his game, backed by a huge serve and vicious forehand, and it is working out well for him. He will hope to avoid the same issues that Alexander Zverev made and get over the slam hump fairly quickly. He has only played one fourth round at a slam in his career and never made the quarter finals. He should be confident of meeting Djokovic in the last 8 at least with a draw that doesn’t pose too many issues on paper. Taylor Fritz will hope to repeat the form he showed in the lesser American tournaments rather than his two poor losses in the Masters 1000 events that followed. Fabio Fognini is the other high seed in this section but Reilly Opelka will be confident of picking up the scalp of the 11th seed in round one.
Roger Federer seeks to take the record for US Open titles in the Open Era if he can win here, making it six in New York. A matchup with qualifier Sumit Nagal is bound to draw some attention for obvious reasons but it shouldn’t be all that competitive against the Indian who plays in his first main draw at a slam here. Making the quarter finals should be pretty routine for Federer with the biggest rivals for him being Lucas Pouille and David Goffin. Goffin will be high on confidence having made the final at the Cincinnati Masters but his 1-8 record against the Swiss leaves a lot to be desired.
Federer’s kind draw does extend to the rest of his quarter although it does contain a few more players that have troubled him in the past. Borna Coric had two wins against him last year but is out of form at the worst time, losing four of his last five matches. A returning Jack Sock is amongst the wildcards here but the former top 10 player is likely to be no threat, having played just two matches this North American swing since his absence following the Australian Open. As a former finalist, Kei Nishikori can never be written off but it is often going to depend on if his body can hold it together. He made the semi finals last year, his best result at a slam since that losing final. It feels like time has passed Milos Raonic by as the one time slam hopeful has been taken over by the next generation of Tsitsipas, Zverev, Medvedev and company. He does have a bunch of quarter finals to his name over the past 3 years and will always be dangerous on serve but whether he can take that next step and secure a slam looks increasingly unlikely, especially with physical issues becoming more common.
The aforementioned Stefanos Tsitsipas could be an unfortunate round one casualty with one of the toughest unseeded players first up for him. He plays Andrey Rublev, who is fresh off a win against Roger Federer in Cincinnati. He did fail to back it up against Daniil Medvedev in the next round but that loss continues to look less disappointing in retrospect. The talented Russian appears to be showing off his undoubted talent more and more now and will hope for another strong performance at the slam he first burst onto the scene at, making the quarter finals in 2017. Between these two and Nick Kyrgios, there should definitely be fireworks if the anticipated matchups do happen. In between all sorts of controversies, Kyrgios did play some outstanding tennis at Washington – winning the title with a victory over Tsitsipas coming along the way. Roberto Bautista Agut will hope to navigate the madness and continue his consistent form at grand slams, where he has two quarter finals from three this year. Matteo Berretini had been impressing throughout the year but may be vulnerable to Richard Gasquet. It’s been a long time coming for the Frenchman but he showed signs he may be over his injury woes with a strong run in Cincinnati – making the semi finals.
Dominic Thiem is undoubtedly vulnerable in his position as fourth seed and this would be the quarter most likely to produce a different semi finalist from what the seedings project. It may have to wait for one of the above to see him off in the quarter finals though. He does play Thomas Fabbiano, who beat Tsitsipas at Wimbledon, in round one with Gael Monfils, Kyle Edmund and Felix Auger Aliassime the other seeds in this section. Auger Aliassime finally broke into the top 20 recently, having started outside the top 100 at the start of the year. He has been having the same consistency issues that many young players do but is an undoubted talent that it would not be surprising to see make a deep run here. Whether it is too early for him is a valid question, especially with a couple of bad results heading into the tournament.
Seen as the most impressive of the three Russians for a fairly long time, Karen Khachanov does look to have been taken over when it comes to expectations and hype by Daniil Medvedev. It’s not to say Khachanov isn’t extremely dangerous and could go deep here because he is more than capable of it. He also boasts a win over Djokovic in the past 12 months and his attacking game can trouble the best when he is on form. He will be hoping to advance to the quarter finals here at the expense of Alexander Zverev and will take huge heart from his decisive 6-3 6-3 win over the German earlier in the month. Diego Schwartzman doesn’t quite possess the thrilling styles or command the attention like these two day but he will be ready to take advantage if the above two fail to live up to expectations. The Argentinian made the quarter finals here in 2017, his joint best result at a slam despite clay being far more suited to his play style.
The draw caps off with three time champ Rafael Nadal heading the bottom quarter of the draw. His opener against John Millman looks easy on paper but that would have been the same thought for Roger Federer last year, where he pulled off the shock. However, it’s unlikely lightning strikes twice and it should be fairly routine for him. The draw does not contain too many tough matchups for him early on with the likes of Marin Cilic and Fernando Verdasco being fading forces as the seeds here. It will be interesting to see how Hyeon Chung does on his return from injury having qualified while John Isner still represents the best home hopes in the men’s draw. He won Newport but has been poor in the hard court events this year, something that won’t inspire confidence going into the tournament.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic def. Karen Khachanov