US Open Men’s Pick: Medvedev Or Nadal Or Chaos?
The US Open begins tomorrow with a ton at stake: The last Slam on the calendar, the No. 1 ranking and with it the inside track for the year-end No. 1 ranking and more history. And all of it is up for grabs because Novak Djokovic isn’t anywhere in sight.
The Serb could have played but he stuck to his stance of not getting vaccinated. And because of it, he missed out on two Slams this year which could changed the course of tennis history. Instead, Rafael Nadal said thank you and won the Australian Open, and now could close the season with No. 23 and another year-end No. 1.
Imagine you are Novak sitting at home watching Rafa win another in two weeks? Wow.
But these are crazy times and the results in tennis are getting crazier. Did anyone have Pablo Carreno Busta or Borna Coric winning Masters over the summer? How about Taylor Fritz or Carlos Alcaraz taking Miami and Indian Wells? Nobody had that quadfecta. Nobody.
Maybe things fall back into place in New York in best-of-5, or maybe they continue to implode. Let’s check the draw.
DANIIL MEDVEDEV QUARTER
While I haven’t been impressed with Daniil Medvedev at the tour-level events, the Russian’s been strong in Slams and especially Slams on cement. Medvedev has made the SFs the last three years at the US Open is favored to make it four. Nick Kyrgios could be a potential fourth rounder but I like Medvedev in a revenge match from the Canadian. Kyrgios opens against his buddy Thanasi Kokkinakis and with possibly Roberto Bautista Agut who blasted the Australian in NY last year. So I like the Spaniard but then Medvedev gets through to the quarters and upends Felix Auger-Aliassime again. The Canadian has a tricky road with the powerful Jack Draper, big Russian Karen Khachanov and perhaps Pablo Carreno Busta or Dominic Thiem. Medvedev doesn’t seem to mind the pressure of defending and he loves New York and loves that many in New York hate him, so the world No. 1 gets through.
The Pick: Medvedev
Like Dominic Thiem, former champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are located in the top half, but none of the three are true title contenders or even week 2 worthy. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud are the top guys but neither inspires any real belief. Matteo Berrettini, a former semifinalist, is in there but he hasn’t had much of summer since COVID and Murray opens against Miami semifinalist Francisco Cerundolo. But I like Taylor Fritz. I think after the American won Indian Wells and his good run at Wimbledon, I think he’s ready to take that next step on his home soil. Fritz, who’s still dealing with a foot injury, gets through Ruud on the quick court and then Tsitsipas (who might get upset by Maxime Cressy) in the quarters to make his first semifinal. But if Berrettini gets rolling, watch out!
The Pick: Taylor Fritz
CARLOS ALCARAZ QUARTER
Can Carlos finally do it at a Slam? He can, but I don’t think it will be this week. His game has just seemed a little off these past few months particularly against the higher ranked players. Maybe it’s nerves like he’s said or maybe it’s simply that the field has caught up to what he’s doing and figured him out. Regardless, the teen is still fun to watch and will likely light up New York once again. Borna Coric could loom and, like Alcaraz, if he can put it together like Cincinnati he can be dangerous. At their peak, I like Coric over Alcaraz right now but I don’t think the Croat gets that far. I think Cilic does, gets a rematch with Alcaraz in the fourth and this time — unlike the summer — gets through to a quarter against Hubert Hurkacz. The Polish No. 1 who won Miami is due for another big run and this is it. I think he beats Jannik Sinner and then Cilic to reach his second Slam semifinal. That said, maybe Sinner sneaks through?
The Pick: Hubert Hurkacz
RAFAEL NADAL QUARTER
Are the top Spaniards going to get shutout? I have Alcaraz out so what’s Nadal fate? I think Rafa falls, too. I’m not convinced he’s fully back to health and on a quick court without those precious MPHs on his serve spell trouble. But his draw is terrific. Other than John Isner, nobody jumps out. Cameron Norrie is steady, Frances Tiafoe loves to falter, Denis Shapovalov is in a slump, Andrey Rublev is Andrey Rublev and there’s Diego Schwartzman who does well in New York every now and then. Maybe Miomir Kecmanovic upsets Rafa who is starting to feel the ab more after a couple of matches. Rublev takes advantage, beats Norrie and then Kecmanovic to reach his first Slam semifinal. There, I just put Andrey in a last four! My gosh.
The Pick: Andrey Rublev
Medvedev d Fritz: Medvedev too much guile for the American No. 1.
Hurkacz d Rublev: Rublev stunned he made it this far, Hurkacz happy to take the win.
Medvedev d Hurkacz: Medvedev becomes the first man since Federer to defend a US Open title.
Of course the way things have been going all summer and all year for the most part, none of this will happen and Frances Tiafoe beats Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final. Ok, that’s probably not happening either, but that’s where we are at. It’s wild out there.
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