They should rename this the Novak Djokovic Open as his storyline at this tournament will perhaps be the biggest in tennis in decades, since Steffi Graf won her ‘Golden Slam’ in 1988 and Rod Laver won his second Calendar year Slam in 1969. Only Serena’s chase in 2015 could rival it, but here for the next two weeks, the Serb will get all the headlines, especially without Federer, Rafa or Serena who are all missing due to injuries.
What Novak has done this year is so rare, remember even in the true dominance of Federer, the 2004 – 2007 seasons, where he won 11 Slams, he could never come into the US Open chasing the calendar year holy grail, as a defeat at Roland Garros would make that chase obsolete.
We could almost forget in this historic run that Djokovic is now equal on 20 Slams with Roger and Rafa and by winning this US Open he would pull ahead and likely never relinquish it.
Potential road bumps for Djokovic are Nishikori (3rdround), a Wimbledon rematch against the Italian Berrittini (QF) and a semi against Zverev. The bottom half in completely wide open, but you’d expect Medvedev the 2ndseed or Tsitsipas to be there on finals weekend.
It’s impossible here to predict anybody other than Djokovic. His Olympic losses may have actually done him a favour in giving him a chance to recharge and reset. He will turn this New York atmosphere combative which always seem to fuel his drive, especially late in matches.
If he can actually pull this off it would be something truly incredible for tennis and we are likely to never see it again in our lifetimes. I’m picking Djokovic to create history and win all four slams in one season.
I’d love to see it.
Over to the Ladies, can Ash Barty win back-to-back Slams? Your guess is probably as good as mine; the Aussie hasn’t been beyond the 4thround in New York but will come into this Slam in hot form, winning Cincinnati last week without dropping a set.
But, there’s a long list of contenders, in Barty’s half of the draw looms Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, Swiatek, Pliskova, Ostapenko and former US Open champ Andreescu. The bottom half is even more loaded, Osaka, Muguruza, Coco Gauff, Kerber, Halep and the power hitter Sabalenka. So, who wins it all?
I’d love to pick Barty again, I really would, but I’m going with Karolina Pliskova, the player Barty defeated in the Wimbledon final. Pliskova has won a lot of matches over the American summer and her partnership with coach Sascha Bajin seems to be clicking. I’m tipping the 29-year-old Czech to win her first slam.
As a side note, crowds are expected at full capacity but as a fan you’ll need a vaccination to get in as per a press release from the USTA yesterday. The final slam of the year will no doubt have drama, but until a Djokovic defeat, if that happens, this will be his tournament.