There has been a high rate of attrition in men’s tennis over the past few months. This year’s US Open will be without Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic who are all absent with injury. Roger Federer comes into the tournament with an injury cloud as well. What this does however, is provides one of the most open major tournaments in many years.
Given the absentees and the caliber of some of the youngsters coming through the ranks, I think we could well see a first time major winner at Flushing Meadows this year. Here are the major players and how I think the draw may pan out.
The Top Seeds
- Rafael Nadal (ESP) – A magnificent effort from Rafa to return to the number 1 ranking this year. This is a tournament that he has won twice, but his lead-up form has been anything but spectacular. A few of the big name absentees this year helps his cause and is a good chance, but questions remain over his ability to go all the way in the last major of a long season – especially with his history of injuries.
- Andy Murray (GBR) – Withdrawn from this year’s tournament.
- Roger Federer (SUI) – Federer has been in incredible form this year having only lost 3 matches and is undefeated in every grand slam match he has played in this year. He did pull out of the Cincinnati Masters with a back injury so it will be interesting to see how his fitness is. If he is over this injury and ready to go, he’ll be the one to beat in my opinion but time will tell.
- Alexander Zverev (GER) – Zverev is in career best form and has a huge opportunity with a top 4 seeeding for the US Open. Won the Rogers Cup in Canada where he defeated Federer in the lead-up so he is in form. Will be interesting to see how he has improved with the rigours of the best-of-5 format of the game. This could be his biggest challenge.
- Marin Čilić (CRO) – Won here in 2014 and was the finalist at Wimbledon last month. Having Murray and Djokovic out gives his chances a huge boost.
- Dominic Thiem (AUT) – Like Zverev, Thiem is one of the new breed of young stars who have climbed the ranks in the men’s game. He is super fit and a strong athlete so the hard courts at Flushing Meadows should suit his game well. Has drawn a good quarter so I expect him to go deep.
- Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) – This is Dimitrov’s best chance of claiming his first grand slam title. He has shown that he has the ability to match it with anyone in the game and also claimed the lead-up title at the Cincinnati Masters. He has produced some terrific tennis this year and if he keeps his head in check, he will be every chance.
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – Tsonga has been the beneficiary of several injuries to higher ranked players and as such claims a crucial top 8 seeding for this year’s tournament. Has been a consistent performer at all majors over a number of years and with a bit of luck could go very deep into the tournament.
- David Goffin (BEL) – Returns from injury to take the 9th seeding spot. He has never performed particularly well at Flushing Meadows but he is a strong competitor
- John Isner (USA) – The big American rounds out the top 10 seeds this year at his home major. Did reach the quarter finals here in 2011 but tends to struggle a little in the best-of-5 format of the game.
Nick Kyrgios – Seeded 14th and looked good at the Cincinatti Masters where he was defeated in the final by Dimitrov. Questions remain over his fitness but when fit can beat anyone. Unfortunately is in Federer’s section of the draw which could make it tough for him.
Bernard Tomic – Unseeded at the US Open and has rapidly dropped to 146 in the world. Takes on big serving Gilles Müller in the first round. Tomic not in the best form at the moment and not sure how much damage he is capable of doing at this year’s tournament.
Winner: Grigor Dimitrov
I think this year’s tournament will most likely produce a first time major winner given the openness and the absence of a number of top ranked players. Dimitrov, in my opinion has a number of factors in his favour. He won the lead-up tournament in Cincinnati, he is fit and has the weapons to beat nearly anyone on his day. Was extremely unlucky not to make the final of the Australian Open this year but I think he will be better off for that experience.Runner-Up: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The bottom half of this year’s draw is incredibly open and I’m picking Tsonga to get through to the final. He has a great record of making it to the second week of majors and with the way his half of the draw is looking, I think he will make it through to the final.Dark Horse: Tomáš Berdych
Berdych has a great record at major tournaments and the openness of the draw gives him a huge chance of going deep into the tournament. He is one of the physically strongest and fittest players on tour so won’t be afraid to get into long matches.