While the women’s event went completely upside-down, the men’s draw at the US Open gone has almost to form, with the lone interloper being the talented World No. 15 Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The 21-year-old Canadian emerged from the Stefanos Tsitsipas – Andrey Rublev quarter, neither of whom he beat. The youngster Carlos Alcaraz took care of Tsitsipas in one of the best matches of the tournament and Rublev fell apart to Frances Tiafoe in their first pro meeting.
Like the women’s draw, without so many champions, so many new faces have made their mark. Jenson Brooksby, Botic Van de Zandshulp, Lloyd Harris and Maxime Cressy were just a few.
But in the end, we are left with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Auger-Aliassime. That’s pretty much chalk. And none of the Top 3 were in any big trouble en route to this final weekend of Grand Slam tennis play.
Medvedev has looked the sharpest of the three, losing just one set. Zverev also lost just one set though had a few more bumps. But the tournament favorite Djokovic has been starting slowly but finishing strong.
On to the matchups.
Daniil Medvedev v Felix Auger-Aliassime
In terms of flat upside, because of his offensive mindset I give that edge to Auger-Aliassime. But in the here-and-now, Medvedev is the better player at the moment and heading into Friday.
Because of his firepower, I think Auger-Aliassime could pull the upset if the Russian is off.
With Uncle Toni watching, I’m sure the Canadian will use court position to his advantage. The question is, will Auger-Aliassime be able to deliver when it means the most.
Auger-Aliassime is 0-8 (0-16 in sets) in ATP finals, so that tells me he really battles his nerves.
Meanwhile, Medvedev is tired of finishing runner-up. His sights are set on a bigger prize.
They played once before and Medvedev won at the 2018 Canadian Open in a final set breaker. I don’t think it will be that close on Friday and the winner will be same.
The Pick: Medvedev in 4
Novak Djokovic v Alexander Zverev
If this was best-of-3 I’d take Zverev. While Djokovic looked incredible after dropping the first to Matteo Berrettini last night, the fact that he’s allowing himself to get into such a hole is troubling. Against the better players — like Zverev — it’s going to catch up. However, I don’t think that happens tomorrow.
Djokovic leads Zverev 6-3 with all three of the German’s wins coming in best-of-3 on the ATP stage. Zverev won’t have that luxury Friday. He’ll have to do something he’s never done before: win three sets against Djokovic and win his first match against a Top 10 player in a Grand Slam.
Zverev is going to get over that hump, and it could come in 24 hours. I just like the fire Djokovic showed after beating Berrettini. He had the look in his eye that he was switching into a higher gear. And he’ll need it.
Zverev is playing some of the best tennis of his career. He’s won 16 straight matches. He won the gold in Tokyo, overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Cincinnati semifinal and then routed Rublev. The serving issues — for now — are in the past and he’s really leaning in and thumping his shots. His problem has been in best-of-five matches against the big names, and until he gets past that, it’s hard to pick him here.
To his credit, Zverev has bounced back extremely well from a brutal loss a year ago when he was within two points of victory.
Djokovic had him on the ropes in Tokyo, had his teeth sunk in. I think this time he won’t let go. He rises up and plays his very best match of the tournament from start to finish.
The Pick: Djokovic in 3
With the way things have been going in New York and the pressure mounting, Zverev could absolutely overwhelm Djokovic. The warning signs have been there for Novak. Dropping sets. Even multiple sets like we saw in Paris. We saw him lose the opener of Wimbledon to Jack Draper. Lost his cool in Tokyo. And of course his blips this week in New York.
And I think Auger-Aliassime can hurt Medvedev, though I feel that’s a longer shot only because Auger-Aliassime doesn’t have the results now the wins that Zverev has.
It should be a crazy finish.
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