The absence of 5-time former champion Roger Federer has somewhat opened up the draw at the US Open this year. World number 1 Novak Djokovic enters the tournament on the back of some rather unconvincing form by his standards and Andy Murray appears set to take the challenge up to him and on form is arguably the favourite to take out the title. Rafael Nadal also returns to grand slam tennis after missing Wimbledon and there are a handful of other contenders who will no doubt make this a fascinating fortnight of tennis. Here are the seeds and my thoughts on how the men’s draw will unfold…
The Top Seeds
- Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Has had somewhat of a form slump by his standards since his win at the French Open back in June. Aside from his win at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, he suffered a shock defeat at Wimbledon and was defeated in his opening match at the Rio Olympics. Djokovic mentioned that he has struggled with injury and personal issues since the French Open so his preparation isn’t ideal. It will be interesting to see how he responds this fortnight. Also has a tough draw.
- Andy Murray (GBR) – Murray is in career best form at the moment. He is recently coming off his second Wimbledon title and a Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics. Looks set to take it right up to Novak and appears to have added an element of aggression to his game which is paying dividends.
- Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Has drawn a tough first round opponent in Fernando Verdasco which is a great game first up. He has recently jumped to number 3 in the world due to the injury of countryman Roger Federer and has the number 3 seed at this tournament. His form this year has been reasonable but I think he can definitely play better than he has been. He is a chance but he will need to be on.
- Rafael Nadal (ESP) – Rafa makes his grand slam return after missing Wimbledon with injury and he has drawn the same side of the draw as Novak Djokovic. Has battled injuries throughout the year and many question whether his body can hold up to a gruelling fortnight in the best-of-5 format. Not to be written off but I think he will find it tough to get through.
- Milos Raonic (CAN) – Fell short in the Wimbledon Final against Murray but that will give him the confidence that he belongs at the pointy end of a grand slam tournament. We all know he has the game to take out a major with his massive serve and big groundstrokes but his form will need to be elite if he is to topple the likes of Djokovic and Murray. I think he is in a good quarter of the draw however and he should be able to get to at least the semi-final.
- Kei Nishikori (JPN) – Had a great result at Rio where he defeated Nadal to claim the Bronze Medal in the singles. He is also a former finalist at Flushing Meadows. Incredibly talented player but occasionally can let himself down during big matches. Perhaps his Rio Bronze medal can give him the confidence he needs to match it with the big boys.
- Marin Čilić (CRO) – The 2014 US Open Champion comes into this year’s tournament on the back of a straight-sets win over Andy Murray in the final of the Cincinatti Masters. He is in great form, has won this tournament previously and is seeded inside the top 8. I think he is a big chance provided he doesn’t run into Djokovic along the way.
- Dominic Thiem (AUT) – Hasn’t quite been able to match his form from May/June where he reached the semis of the French Open and won the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Has had a string of disappointing results since Wimbledon and will be keen to make amends. On his recent form I can’t quite see him being a contender at this year’s tournament.
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – Has a great record of reaching the second week of major tournaments but hasn’t been able to breakthrough to a final since 2008. He is a very tough opponent and a great entertainer. Whilst he has the ability to be incredibly dangerous, I think he’ll need results to go his way if he is to feature at the business end of the tournament.
- Gaël Monfils (FRA) – Monfils is one of the most exciting players to watch on tour but also extremely inconsistent. Has made the quarterfinals at the US Open on two previous occasions and would not be surprised to see him make the second week again this year. However, I believe he lacks the consistency to be able to play his best tennis for 2 weeks at a major and can’t see him troubling some of the higher seeds in the draw.
Nick Kyrgios – Seeded 14 this year. Has had a solid year so far and the lack of a couple of big name players in this year’s draw and the questionable form of a few others could provide him with thean opportunity to make a big impact. His seeding gives him a good run to the second week.
Bernard Tomic – Seeded 17 and on a potential collision course with Nick Kyrgios in the 3rd round. Either way, provided him and Kyrgios can get through their first 2 matches, we will see an Australian into the 4th round at worst. His best result at the US Open was a 3rd round appearance which he achieved last year.
Winner: Novak Djokovic
I think Novak will be able to put his recent form slump behind him and bounce back with a vengeance at the US Open. There have been questions about his form, fitness and his current mental state leading into this tournament but Djokovic is adamant that he will be able to overcome these issues and I expect him to again be the man to beat this year.
Runner-up: Andy Murray
Murray is in great form but he has not been able to defeat any of the big 3 (Djokovic, Federer or Nadal) in a grand slam tournament since 2013. Whist he is coming off the back of a Wimbledon title and an Olympic gold medal, he has been fortunate enough not to run into any of the big boys en-route to his title victories. It’s an extremely tough call between Djokovic and Murray but I think Novak will have the edge, but only just.
Dark Horse: Juan Martín del Potro
It’s fantastic to see Del Potro taking it up to the very best once again and I think he shapes as a huge dark horse at this year’s tournament. He has had to rely on a wildcard due to his ranking but he finds himself in what I believe to be the weakest quarter of the men’s draw. He arrives at Flushing Meadows off the back of a terrific run at the Olympics where he defeated Djokovic and Nadal en-route to claiming a silver medal. He is also a previous winner at the US Open when he defeated Roger Federer back in 2009. Will certainly be someone that nobody will want to run into at this year’s tournament and if his body can hold up I think he is a big chance. He has the game to defeat anyone on the tour.