We are heading towards the last week of August which means that the final Grand Slam of the year is upon us as the US Open gets underway at Flushing Meadows on Monday. The men’s draw has had plenty of attention in the lead up to the event with Novak Djokovic ineligible to enter which opens things up.
The Serbian was allowed in last year but it was no problem for Daniil Medvedev as he beat him in the final and the world number one will look to make a successful defence of what is his only Grand Slam title to date.
2021 – Daniil Medvedev
2020 – Dominic Thiem
2019 – Rafael Nadal
2018 – Novak Djokovic
2017 – Rafael Nadal
2016 – Stan Wawrinka
2015 – Novak Djokovic
2014 – Marin Cilic
2013 – Rafael Nadal
2012 – Andy Murray
The usual Grand Slam rules apply for this tournament with every match the best of five sets throughout. The slams are now all as one with a final set being decided by a match tiebreak should it reach 6-6. There have been a few big name withdrawals but 128 men have made it into the draw and have already been placed into the bracket. The tournament is a straight knockout with the champion crowned on the second Sunday of the event. Full crowds are back so long as they have been jabbed so we should get all the usual New York excitement over the two weeks.
Daniil Medvedev isn’t just the defending champion this week but he is the world number one and as a result of that he is the top seed and the headline act in this quarter. The Russian was forced to miss Wimbledon so he’ll be eager to make up for lost time here. He is seeded to meet the man he beat in the last four here last year in the quarter final in Felix Auger-Aliassime but six seeds will be out to stop that from happening. They are Karen Khachanov, Alex de Minaur, Montreal champion Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Bautista Agut, Nick Kyrgios and Nikoloz Basilashvili. This will be an exciting quarter.
There are going to be a bunch of eye catching and established names in each quarter who aren’t seeded in it and in this section the 2020 champion Dominic Thiem is probably the highest profile of them. Cristian Garin was a quarter finalist at Wimbledon last month and will be out for another decent Slam stint here. British interest comes in the form of Jack Draper while home hopes will be pinned towards Denis Kudla, J.J. Wolf and Stefan Kozlov. Alexander Bublik and Filip Krajinovic are in here too.
Stefanos Tsitsipas doesn’t have the best record in New York and he’ll be out to remedy that from the second quarter which he is the highest seed in. If everything goes to plan and the rankings the Greek ace will come up against French Open finalist Casper Ruud in the last eight. The other seeds in this section of the draw are Tommy Paul, Botic van de Zandschulp, Taylor Fritz, former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, Francisco Cerundolo and the Eastbourne finalist Maxime Cressy.
There are two of the biggest names in the game without a seeded number next to their name in this quarter of the draw. Both have previously won here in Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka and they’ll be looking to revive former glories. Sebastian Korda is another big unseeded player in this quarter while the likes of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Tim van Rijthoven can be dangerous. John Millman had his finest moment in this tournament while Kyle Edmund continues his return from injury.
The Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz who began to cause a stir when he dumped Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andy Murray out of this last year is the highest seed in the third quarter. He has had an excellent season and will be out to reach at least the last four. In order to get there he might need to beat the Montreal finalist Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight. The other seeds in this section are the Cincinnati champion Borna Coric, Dan Evans, former champion Marin Cilic, exciting Italian player Jannik Sinner, Grigor Dimitrov and Lorenzo Musetti.
This is another group with plenty of decent unseeded talent in it. They include the Winston-Salem champion Adrian Mannarino as well as David Goffin while the American trio of Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and Jenson Brooksby will look to use having the home crowds to their advantage and go as deep as they can. Sebastian Baez, Brandon Nakashima and Ilya Ivashka are three others hoping to shine this fortnight.
The eyes of the world will be on the bottom quarter as it is the place where Rafael Nadal is housed in this draw. There are growing thoughts that this could be the final time we see him in New York and he’ll be determined to pick up a third Grand Slam of the year. He is seeded to take on Cameron Norrie in the quarter final should both men get that far but Holger Rune, Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe and Miomir Kecmanovic will be out to stop them.
There are yet more decent unseeded players in the draw this week in the form of Richard Gasquet, Fabio Fognini, Benoit Paire and John Isner. Laslo Djere was a finalist at Winston-Salem and he is in this section while Jack Sock is becoming a danger to all once again. Alexei Popyrin, Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald are just some of the younger players who will be looking to use this fortnight to break through.
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This looks like a really open betting heat to me so I’m happy to take a player in each half of the draw. Taylor Fritz is my man in the top half. He’ll enjoy the quick conditions as we saw when he won in Indian Wells and at Eastbourne earlier in the season. He should have been a Grand Slam semi-finalist at Wimbledon as well as he had Rafael Nadal beat only to let the big fish off the hook as he reeled him in. Conditions in New York are expected to be quick to suit the American players and that might not suit the main seeds in the second quarter in Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud. Fritz has a big serve and heavy groundstrokes and looks a lot fitter these days. I think he’s more than a dark horse here.
In the bottom half there is a case to be made for a number of players but the one I like the look of is Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole is another who likes fast conditions. He has won on these Laykold courts in the past when he took down the tournament in Miami previously. He arrives here in good form having made the final in Montreal where he put Nick Kyrgios and Casper Ruud to the sword. Hurkacz is in a half of the draw where Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal are the main seeds. The latter has all sorts of injury concerns which is a big issue while there is a feeling that the former can be rushed on a hard court. Hurkacz looks to have a nice draw to the quarter final and having made a Slam semi-final before there is a lot going for the big serving Polish player.
I’m going to leave the top quarter alone but there is no getting away from the fact that the bottom quarter is there for the attacking purely because Rafael Nadal is nowhere near fit. That isn’t to say he can’t win the tournament, he won in Australia and Paris when he wasn’t fully fit either but he did have matches going into those events which he hasn’t had coming into this one. His first round match here will be just his second since Wimbledon and he could be running into a Fabio Fognini or Aslan Karatsev as early as the second round.
I’ll take someone in the top part of the quarter where we won’t run into Nadal until the quarter final. That gives us four opponents to take out the Spaniard or potentially have a jaded Nadal on the other side of the net by that time. Cam Norrie was almost my man but his record in Slams doesn’t convince me even allowing for the fact he made the semis at Wimbledon. His draw opened right up there. The other three seeds in the top half of the quarter are Holger Rune, Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev. The former two are in no form and Rublev is only 7-6 since the French Open so maybe that opens it up for John Isner whose serve will be a real weapon in these conditions. He made the third round of Wimbledon where he served about as well as I’ve seen him serve in a long time in beating Andy Murray in the second round. Isner made the last eight in Cincinnati taking care of Hubert Hurkacz and Seb Korda along the way and in a section which could be wide open as early as the third round the 18/1 on him booming his way to the semi-final might just be a touch big.
Back T.Fritz to win US Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with Boylesports (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back H.Hurkacz to win US Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with William Hill (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back J.Isner to win 4th Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 19.00 with Betway