After a long absence due to COVID-19 enforced lockdowns, high level tennis is back. The US Open begins on Monday during its usual spot on the calendar but will not have a full list of players taking part – most of which for safety reasons. 2019 Champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the most high profile absentees while Kei Nishikori, Stanislas Wawrinka and Gael Monfils will not be involved either. Novak Djokovic enters the draw as top seed and will be considered a heavy favourite to add to his slam count in 2 weeks time.
Full draw here: US Open 2020 Men’s’s Draw
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Without qualifiers, the draw is already filled ahead of time denying the opportunity for any low-ranked fairytale runs. With a number of live outsiders not taking part in the draw, this looks even more straight forward in the early rounds for the top players including Djokovic. He begins against Damir Dzumhur, a player who is yet to make it past the third round at a slam. Former top 20 player Kyle Edmund will have to return to his best if he wants to get anywhere near to a set in a potential second rounder with Djokovic while the first seeded player the No.1 seed could play is Jan Lennard Struff. The German picked up some good scalps in the Cincinnati/New York tournament this week but was overwhelmed by Djokovic 6-3 6-1 when they met in the quarter finals. Should things go badly for Djokovic, John Isner would have to be the most logical replacement from this section of the draw. The big serving American has plenty of pedigree on home soil and is a two time quarter finalist at the event. Pablo Carreno Busta‘s 2017 semi final run looks more and more curious with each passing year but the Spaniard should at least feel confident of living up to his seeding and making the third round at least with two very winnable matches on paper.
Denis Shapovalov could well have to sweep aside four Americans on his way to the quarter finals if the draw plays out. He could begin with two wildcards before running into 19th seed Taylor Fritz. This matchup would provide a great opportunity for the pair with Fritz seeking a first fourth round at a slam. He had started 2020 well, making the Acapulco final before the season was suspended, but on return will be disappointed by a loss to Aljaz Bedene this past week. Reilly Opelka has an outside chance to make the quarter finals here but there may be concerns after he retired from his match with Stefanos Tsitsipas while not behind in the score. Opelka had already notched up victories against two top-10 seeds before his enforced withdrawal. David Goffin is the highest seeded player but would be vulnerable to many of the players listed, including R1 opponent Opelka who beat him in Basel last year.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will be eager to get a deep slam run up sooner rather than later with the young Greek having some fairly disappointing outings in the year following his break out 2019 Australian Open semi final. He will come into the tournament fairly happy with his performance in Cincinnati/New York, having beat three big servers before finally succumbing to a fourth in Milos Raonic in the semi final. Many of his opening week opponents are far more comfortable on the clay courts, including seeds Christian Garin and Dusan Lajovic. Borna Coric (1-0 H2H) could be tricky if they meet in round three but it otherwise should be a fairly stress free week for the Greek if he is anywhere near the standard expected from 2019 ATP Tour Finals winner.
Filling Tsitsipas further with confidence of a deep run will be the fact that his potential quarter final opponent if the draw plays out will be Alexander Zverev. He is 5-1 against the German, winning on clay as well as indoor and outdoor hard courts in this time. Zverev’s return to the tour ended in a three set loss to Andy Murray but for the time being it is hard to tell if this was much more about a resurgent champion getting back to his best or Zverev looking disappointing ahead of a slam. 2020 had started well with a semi final at the Australian Open – his first time past the fourth round in a slam outside of the French Open. Getting over the mental block he had with slams has to be a good thing and it will be interesting to see how he goes without fan pressure this fortnight. He opens against former champion Kevin Anderson although there is no doubt the South African’s best days are behind him following injury. Other seeds to round off this half of the draw include Hubert Hurkacz, Adrian Mannarino and ninth seed Diego Schwartzman. A player in the David Ferrer mould, Schwartzman has shown himself to be a tough cookie and has two quarter finals in New York in the past three years.
All the eyes in the bottom half of the draw will be on Daniil Medvedev, who almost secured one of the most thrilling comeback wins in last year’s final against Rafael Nadal. The Russian was one of the most consistent players last year with 4 titles and a few more finals to his name but didn’t enjoy the same fortune prior to the tour shutdown this year. There’s no doubt he remains among the potential winners of this event, especially if his much calmer temperament remains in the big matches. Despite the disappointment of losing his last match from a set up to Roberto Bautista Agut, he looks ready to challenge for a slam once more. The early rounds look straight forward before a possible fourth round with a rising Grigor Dimitrov. They met in the semi finals here last year and it was a routine win for the Russian, who won in straight sets.
The other top 8 seed in this quarter is Matteo Berrettini. Outside the top 50 at the beginning of 2019, the Italian remained extremely consistent and was rewarded with a spot in the ATP Tour Finals for his efforts. He only played the Australian Open before the tour shut down, suffering a disappointing second round loss to Tennys Sandgren. Of the seeds in his section, Benoit Paire remains as unpredictable as ever while Casper Ruud is definitely more comfortable on clay. Andrey Rublev will be the one to watch, with a quarter final run in New York already to his name. On his way to the semi finals, the Italian won their meeting at the US Open last year quite comfortably in straight sets. Whether Rublev can bounce back and learn enough from that loss is yet to be seen but it should be an intriguing clash should the seeds live up their billing. Having lost his last two matches both to Daniel Evans, he may well be delighted that the Brit is drawn in another quarter of the draw.
The final quarter of the draw is the one that looks the most dangerous in terms of seeds or otherwise making a deep run at the expense of the projected route by seeding. 2020 Australian Open losing finalist Dominic Thiem heads the quarter as second seed but plenty will see him as beatable despite the Austrian showing a great deal of improvement outside of clay over the past 18 months. A shock 6-2 6-1 loss to Filip Krajinovic on his return to the tour will not fill many with confidence, especially when Thiem had been remaining match sharp by playing in a number of exhibitions. 2014 Champion Marin Cilic is not a consistently high level player now but remains dangerous on his day while Daniel Evans and Felix Auger-Aliassime are more than capable of taking scalps. Andy Murray‘s return to the tour remains something to look out for. He already has a Top 10 win since the tour restarted, beating Alexander Zverev in three sets this past week.
Eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut seems to be one of the more consistent players on the tour but the US Open has been a difficult one for him over the past two years. It would be a surprise if he were to make it three straight years with a opening round loss in New York especially as he returns in good form after a semi final in Cincinnati/New York. He beat Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev before losing a tight three setter to Novak Djokovic. Tennys Sandgren is far from an easy opener and on a good serving day could well find an opening to victory. Karen Khachanov is another seed in this section but looks to have been leapfrogged by Daniil Medvedev when 18 months ago it looked like he was going to be the next Russian star to take the tour by storm. Milos Raonic looks in good shape coming into the tournament and could be a good outside pick to make the final after doing the same in this week’s tournament. The Canadian is the toughest of the seeds in this section and does have a 5-0 record against Bautista Agut, something that will likely stick in the back of both of their minds even if the last match was in 2017
F – Novak Djokovic defeats Milos Raonic