New York is set to host the 50th-anniversary edition of the season-ending Major, the US Open.
The unique US Open schedule features morning and night sessions, beginning at 11am and 7pm. On the men’s side, defending champion and World No. 1, Rafael Nadal will look to add a fourth US Open trophy to his cabinet.
One thing’s for certain, with US Open history and a first prize of $3.8 million, there is plenty to play for this week.
We’re still waiting for the new generation of stars to close the door on the old guard after Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic combined to win the last seven majors. This is almost comical given their ages – 37, 32 and 31 respectively – but yet another major arrives and it’s difficult to see anyone else winning.
They have split the year’s first three majors, and on the return to the hard courts they are a combined 16-1 this summer. The sole loss came from interplay with Novak beating Roger in the Cincinnati final to become the first man to win all nine Masters 1000 events since the series began in 1990.
Djokovic looks back at his best. There were many who questioned whether he’d win another major but he proved his doubters wrong at Wimbledon with a combination of consistency, fitness and sheer relentlessness and will be very confident at the US Open on his favoured surface.
Federer, boasting effortless power and graceful movement that defies his aging body, will have something to say about Djokovic’s US Open favourite tag. Described as an artist on court, and arguably the greatest of all time, he has all the tools to mount a challenge this week.
Nadal, as the defending US Open champion and winner of three of the last seven majors, will also fancy his chances this week. The fiery Spaniard has recovered the attacking style, which has helped him get back to Number 1 in the world. He won’t take any opponent lightly and it will take a huge performance for Nadal to be denied this week.
There will be a number of the younger generation who will be quietly confident of breaking the status quo at the US Open.
Alexander Zverev leads the charge for the youngsters this week. At 20 years old, the German finished the 2017 season ranked number four in the world. He beat Djokovic in the Rome final which propelled him into the top ten, something no other 20-year-old has managed since 2008.
He epitomizes the modern game at with booming serves at over 130mph and an ability to move around the court. Another year older and more mentally and physically mature, it is no surprise that many experts see Zverev as the one to break the trend of recent years.
Stan Wawrinka or the “Stananmial” will be hoping to make some noise this week.
The Swiss player has so often been in his compatriot Federer’s shadow but has major pedigree. He has won three of the four majors with only Wimbledon needed to complete the Grand Slam. Hard courts are arguably his best surface and he is no doubt a player that the top seeds respect and will want to avoid. Despite his recent spate of injuries, he peaks for majors and on his day he can beat any player on the planet. Can “Stan the Man” become the next over 30 to roll back the years?
Juan Martin Del Potro describes the US Open tournament as his “favourite on tour”. He hits his backhand with greater authority and his forehand remains one of the biggest weapons in tennis. He is a past champion and has been knocking on the door of his second major title for more than a year now; in his last four Slam events, he’s made two semi-finals and one quarter-final. He seems to finally be over his injury woes and I believe he is the biggest threat to the big three.
Federer and Nadal have never faced each other at the US Open. Is this the year we will be treated to the showdown? If this is to happen it looks as though Federer will have to beat first Nick Kygrios in the 3rd round then Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Zverev and Maren Cilic are also in this side of the draw, so although it’s possible we could get the showdown, it’s going to be difficult. On the other hand, Nadal’s draw seems more manageable which could prove vital in the latter stages of the tournament when he faces his great rivals.
Many will be hoping for a new champion with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev leading the next-gen challenge. I don’t see a new major champion this year but there could be more problems for the big three than we have become used to.
As for the Federer-Nadal showdown, it’d have to be in the final with both as top seeds but what a final it would be, likely to be one of the most watched matches in the sports history.
Tie of the first round: Stan Wawrinka v Grigor Dimitrov
Click here for our betting on the US Open men’s draw.