It has been perhaps a more quiet build up to the US Open than the World No. 1 and defending champion Djokovic anticipated. Taking time out due to some elbow pain and skipping Montreal before falling in the semi-finals of Cincinnati, Djokovic can be happy with some sustained time on court.
Obviously the Big Three come in the absolute favourites, and on paper, Djokovic stands head and shoulders above his potential opponents – at least until we get to the quarter-final stage. The man who has been in form this US hard-court swing, Daniil Medvedev could be in his way into a difficult second week, where he will then need to perhaps power through Roger Federer, and the Rafael Nadal to lift a fourth US Open title.
Nadal started his post-Wimbledon hard court swing with a win in Montreal before giving the back-to-back Masters circuit a miss and skipping Cincinnati. Also in the hunt for a fourth title in Flushing Meadows, it could take the World No. 1 to beat him for the exalted silverware.
Nadal’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)
R1: John Millman | Nadal leads H2H 1-0
R2: Thanasi Kokkinakis [WC] | Nadal leads H2H 2-0
R3: Fernando Verdasco  | Nadal leads H2H 17-3
R4: John Isner  | Nadal leads H2H 7-1
QF: Alexander Zverev  | Nadal leads H2H 5-0
SF: Dominic Thiem  | Nadal leads H2H 9-4
F: Novak Djokovic  | Djokovic leads H2H 28-26
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After the disappointment of being pipped to the Wimbledon title by none other than Djokovic, Federer finds himself in Djokovic’s half of the draw, but until that point, could have a decent run into the second week. It is likely he will have far too much consistency and fire-power up until the semi-final.
How much Djokovic is likely to be in his head after the Wimbledon final remains to be seen, and his early exit in Cincinnati could be a cause for concern but he has plenty of time to play himself into the form he will need for the business end.
Backing up last year’s run to the Roland Garros final, and even taking a set off Rafael Nadal, Thiem emerges as one of the next generation who has actually at least made it to the end of a Slam, and now actually looks as one of the most likely to break the stranglehold of the Big Three.
However – is it likely to be this tournament? Up to the quarter-finals he looks to be very much in control, and perhaps Stefanos Tsitsipas might also throw his hat (or indeed retro headband) into the ring as one to take the mantle off the old guys.
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