The tennis travelling circus is descending on New York these next two weeks for the last of the Grand Slams this year, so you can bet mid town traffic and your arteries will be clogged up after you’ve eaten a hot dog from one of the street vendors in Times Square.
So, to avoid the congestion lets catch the subway from Grand Central out to Mets-Willets Point station in Queens and figure out who can win this thing. As is the case these days the Ladies draw is up for grabs.
Last years Champion Naomi Osaka has been dealing with a knee injury and withdrew injured from her QF in Cincinnati. The current world number one hasn’t been to a final since her Australian Open victory back in January. She could play teen sensation Coco Gauff in the 3rdround.
This years’ Wimbledon winner Simona Halep has struggled on the hard courts since her victory at the big ‘W’, the Romanian went out in first round the last two years in New York so she’ll be looking to avoid that. A likely 4thround against the in form Toronto winner Bianca Andreescu would be a great night match.
The hottest player right now is Madison Keys, who won Cincinnati, defeating Halep, Venus, Muguruza and a resurgent Kuznetsova along the way, is this the time the American has a Grand Slam breakthrough and go all the way? Keys should get to a potential 4thround against Svitolina.
Big 1stround matchups are Sabalenka vs Azarenka and Serena vs Sharapova, where there is no love lost. Serena holds a 19-2 head to head but comes into New York under an injury cloud, I still think she’ll get through Maria and then the draw opens up a little until a potential 4thround against crafty 12thseed Sevastova.
Ash Barty could be a bit of a sleeper here, as much as a recent World Number one and French Open Champion could be, most of the focus will be on the American players and Barty won’t be one to seek any attention which will suit her just fine, a likely 4thround against Kerber will be a big test, then Serena could be a QF opponent.
There’s a host of other players would could make a deep run, Kvitova, former Champion Sloane Stephens, Pliskova or the in form Sofia Kenin. Ok, time to put a bet on, who can win it all? The past five years in New York there’s been five different winners, Serena, Pennetta, Kerber, Stephens and Osaka, I’d say Pennetta, Stephens and Osaka were kind of shocking.
Which leads me into two categories, former Grand Slam Champions vs. In-form players, you hate to pick a player who’s never won a Slam before, I’ve done it and they’ve gone nowhere but I’m going all in and picking an in form player who would be a surprise winner but in the women’s game these days there is no ‘big 3’ who are virtually guaranteed to make the finals weekend.
I’m picking Madison Keys, she’s in form, been to a semi and final at the US Open the past two years and the fast courts suit her game. Now watch her go out in week one.
Lets go to the Men. Of course its all about the ‘big 3’, Novak, Rafa and Roger. The last player to win a Slam outside of those three was Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 US Open; it’s been complete domination since then. Novak has won four out of the past five Slams and knows what it takes to win in New York, having won the event three times, including last year over Del Potro in straight sets.
Rafa has also won the US Open three times but had to retire in last years’ Semi clash with Del Potro, the Spainard has had a good lead in to New York, winning the Rogers Cup over an in from Daniil Medvedev. Rafa will open against Aussie John Millman, and could play another Aussie Kokkinakis in the 2ndround, he’s semi final seed is Dominic Thiem.
Federer has played only one event since the heart breaking loss to Novak in the Wimbledon final, losing in straight sets in Cincinnati to Andrey Rublev in the 3rdround. If any of the ‘big 3’ don’t make it to the semi’s I think it will be Roger, he seems to bounce back after tough losses in the slams but I feel this one is different.
At this stage of his career to lose such a big final after having match points will take more than a month to get over, he would have been ripe for a week one upset but the draw gods did him a favor, I doubt he’ll be tested until a potential 4thround against David Goffin.
Players outside the ‘big 3’ who could do some damage are Tsitsipas, Medvedev, and Khachanov. Kyrgios opens against the slice backhand master American Steve Johnson, you know there will be racquet throwing, conversations with the crowd, umpire arguing and probably a ‘tweener’ or three, if he gets serious a likely 3rdround against Tsitsipas awaits.
Ok, time for a winner. There’s no way I’m picking outside the ‘big 3’. The younger players have been talked up endlessly these past few years yet haven’t produced in the Slams. I’m not over thinking it and going with Novak, if he can pull this off he’ll have 17 Slams and within real striking distance of Federer’s 20, unthinkable just a few years ago.