Yeah, Roger Federer’s playing. Yeah, so too is Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray as well. But this year’s US Open just feels more wide open than in the past.
Sure you have 3 of the Big 4 as the favorites, but they just don’t feel like locks to win it. That’s because we’ve seen breakthroughs this summer from Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem continues to push ahead along with some of the other youngsters.
So while Federer and Nadal have dominated for the most part on paper, on the actual court I have my doubts. Here are my favorites.
1. Roger Federer
Undefeated in Slams this year, he’s won the US Open 5 times, made at least the semifinals in 10 of his last 12 appearances. He loves playing New York, he knows what he’s up against and he’s got added motivation with the No. 1 ranking at stake.
But, and it’s a big BUT.
We saw him have issues against Zverev in the Montreal final and right now, we don’t really have any sense of how he has been progressing. And with a back, it might be okay now, but then one sudden movement and that’s that. He is playing his first Slam as a 36-year-old.
So a healthy Federer you can put him in the semis, but coming off a back issue, playing best of 5, until I see that first round match, it’s hard to say.
2. Alexander Zverev
After his Rome title over Novak Djokovic then back-to-backs at D.C. and Montreal where he rocked Roger, I think Zverev has a real strong shot at leaving NY with a first Slam. His issue has been the Slams where he has yet to have that signature big win. But next week in New York when you look at his opponents, match-by-match, he’s going to be favored in just about everyone with the exception of a Federer and Nadal.
Plus, with no Stan Wawrinka, no Djokovic, no Nishikori, that opens the door for a guy like him. Can he get through it?
3. Rafael Nadal
I put him at No. 3 only because of his Australian Open and Miami results. He played well enough to make the finals there, but the fact remains, he hasn’t won a hardcourt title since 2014 Doha. A long time ago.
And stunning losses to Denis Shapovalov and Kyrgios this summer doesn’t help his cause.
I know he’s No. 1 now but deep down I think he knows that if Federer stays healthy it’s only a matter of time before the Swiss overtakes him.
But again, with both finalists out from last year and so many wounded, this is a real opportunity for Rafa. I just think there are more threats in the draw to him than say a Zverev.
4. Take Your Pick
After those 3, it’s anyone’s guess.
Andy Murray – Will he even play? And if he does how fit and ready will he be after missing the entire summer lead-up. The ESPN announcers including former coach Brad Gilbert were saying this past weekend that Murray is a guy who needs matches. Well, he’s had none. That can’t be good.
Nick Kyrgios – Are you ready to buy him winning a Slam? I’m not. No yet. Over best-of-5 he could go out at any moment or just as well pull off an upset. One thing is for sure, the top guys don’t want to see him across the net.
Dominic Thiem – If the courts are a little slower that would help the Austrian. But those odds aren’t that great and neither are his to actually win the whole thing. Quarters or semis, maybe. But his first Slam coming in New York? I don’t see it.
Grigor Dimitrov – A very strong week in Cincinnati has got the mercurial one heading up again. But can he sustain it? Like Kyrgios, he too could easily flop in the first few rounds and while he’s won a Masters, I’m not convinced he’s mentally sound enough to win a Slam over 7 best-of-5 matches. That said, he’s healthy and in form, and if the top guys falter then…
Juan Martin Del Potro – We keep hoping but I fear best-of-5 is just too much for the 2009 champ. He was cooked after just a set-and-a-half against Dimitrov in Cincinnati, so how’s he going to manage in 5?
Marin Cilic – Like Murray, the former champ hasn’t hit a ball since Wimbledon. And he usually plays a lot of tournaments. So missing those matches is going to hurt him, if he plays at all.
Milos Raonic – This guy’s been on a milk carton MIA for most of the year. Anyone seen him? And will his wrist allow him to play?
JW Tsonga – A family man now?
Gael Monfils – If you wanted to take a longshot, maybe this is the guy. Made the semis last year losing that bizarre match to Djokovic but the question always with him is his health.
Sam Querrey – Quietly putting together his best season. With a good draw, short matches he could do some real damage.
John Isner – See Sam Querrey.
Kevin Anderson – If the courts are quick and he’s healthy, you don’t want to play him.
Bottom line is, among the top favorites Federer, Nadal and Zverev all have big question marks – is Roger fit, can Rafa win on hard, is Zverev ready to win. Then you have a big group of contenders that could go 15 deep. All of whom could win it!
The good thing for those that are banged up like Federer, Murray and Cilic is that more than likely those guys will have or should have at least two easy rounds next week to work into form. On the flip side, if they find themselves in a fifth set, that could be problematic that early in the event.
So in the end, if Federer’s back is OK, then it’s his US Open to lose. Otherwise, just roll the dice and see who wins. Isner, Querrey, Kyrgios, Dimitrov. That could be the semifinals!
And it could very well be first-time champ not named Zverev! But then who?
We’ll know where Federer lands when the draw is released on Friday. But I don’t think it matters much.
You Might Like:
Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win Wimbledon?
Poll: Rafael Nadal Or Novak Djokovic, Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The French Open?
Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The 2017 Australian Open?
Poll: Who’s Your Early 2016 Australian Open Favorite? Can Anyone Beat Novak Djokovic?
Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The 2014 Australian Open? Djokovic, Nadal Or…