Following the confirmation that Novak Djokovic will not be competing at this year’s US Open which he has won on three occasions, the men’s draw for the last major of the season would seem to be wide open with the real possibility that another new name could be engraved on the Trophy for a third consecutive year after Dominic Thiem (2020) and Daniil Medvedev (2021) or even Rafa Nadal’s for a fifth time!
Defending champion Daniil Medvedev is the top seed and, as the world number one, favourite to retain the title.
However, the Muscovite could run into resistance in the third round against the much-hyped NCAA champ, the 19-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, Ben Shelton who turned professional this week, then potentially the controversial Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the fourth to whom he lost to in Montreal. Next up could be the Montreal championn Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain or Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, the sixth seed.
Carreno Busta opens against Austrian Dominic Thiem while Kyrgios, seeded 23, collides with his good friend and compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in what looks like the best of the men’s first round matches.
Britain’s fast rising star Jack Draper is scheduled to make his debut in Flushing Meadows against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori but could run into the big hitting Karen Khachanov in round three.
Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, features in the second quarter which will no doubt be dominated by Stefanos Tsistsipas, Casper Ruud and Taylor Fritz who are all chasing their first semi-final place in Flushing Meadows and their first major title.
All three have done well at hard court Master 1000 events this year with American Fritz taking Indian Wells, Norway’s Ruud making the Miami final while the Greek star Tsitsipas was a finalist in Cincinnati.
The former champion from Switzerland, Stan Wawrinka (2016), and the two Americans Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda are also in the quarter and could cause a few upsets.
Murray, meanwhile, opens with a tough one against Miami semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina but Kyle Edmund, who is returning to the Tour after three knee surgeries, has the toughest opener of all the Brits when he takes on Ruud, the fifth seed, in their opening match.
In the third quarter teen sensation Alcaraz is the headliner, but the 19-year-old Spaniard could face the seemingly fully rejuvenated Croatian Borna Coric who has just won the Cincinnati title. The pair could meet in the third round.
Alcaraz opens against fellow youngster Sebastian Baez of Argentina with the former champion from Croatia Marin Cilic (2014) a possible fourth round opponent whilst either Italy’s Jannik Sinner or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz will be awaiting in the quarters.
Dan Evans, seeded 20, opens against the Czech Jiri Vesely with the possibility of facing Cilic in round three.
In the bottom quarter the four-time former champion Rafa Nadal, seeded two, has been drawn against Rinky Hijikata of Australia and provided he is fit, he shouldn’t have too much trouble to make an impression on this year’s draw.
The Spaniard remains undefeated in Slams this season (he missed Wimbledon with an abdominal tear) and could face Italy’s flamboyant Fabio Fognini in the second round, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in the third with either Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman or American Frances Tiafoe in the fourth.
Nadal’s first test could come in the quarters from either the Muscovite Andrey Rublev, Britain’s Cameron Norrie or even the big serving American John Isner who will be battling for that last eight berth.
Norrie, seeded seven, opens against veteran Frenchman Benoit Paire and could run into the young Dane Holger Rune in round three
The US Open kicks off in New York on Monday with Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Ruud, Kyrgios and Murray all scheduled to get their campaigns underway.