The US Open is fast approaching and will begin in earnest on Monday, the qualifying continues in the meantime, and as a result the main draw has been released. Released, because unlike the other three Slams and the majority of other tournaments, the US Open conducts its draw in secret before announcing the results at a draw ceremony instead of holding it live. Why they do so remains an unknown, but the potential match ups at the year’s final Slam aren’t any more.
Rafael Nadal’s quarter
Defending champion and top seed Nadal does not find himself in too loaded a section of the draw though he does open the tournament against a former world #3. But that man is David Ferrer not the more fearsome Stan Wawrinka. Ferrer is playing his final Slam in New York and it is fitting that he has the chance to go out on the biggest stage against one of the greatest of all time. Although, of course, his mind will be on prolonging his career.
Karen Khachanov, who Nadal beat for the fourth time without reply in Toronto, is the first seed he could face, whilst the out-of-form Jack Sock or the big-hitting Briton Kyle Edmund will likely wait for him in the fourth round. Kevin Anderson, the fifth seed and the finalist last year in New York and this at Wimbledon, could provide a serious test in the quarterfinals. Though Nadal won the final last year easily against the South African, he is a more dangerous proposition this time around.
Quarterfinal prediction: Nadal defeats Anderson.
Juan Martin del Potro’s quarter
Third seed and 2009 champion del Potro arrives in New York looking to be nursing a wrist injury and faces a potentially difficult path out of his section of the draw. He will open against a qualifier and could face the in-form Matteo Berrettini in the second round. Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, and Fernando Verdasco are both dangerous potential third round opponents for the Argentine and Toronto finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas lurks within striking distance.
Also in his quarter are John Isner and Stan Wawrinka. The American made his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon last month and is sure to receive the raucous backing of the New York crowd. He also beat del Potro in Miami. Stan Wawrinka, the champion in 2016 and in the same quarter, begins his tournament against eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov, and whoever wins that clash will surely be battle-hardened for the remainder of the tournament.
Quarterfinal prediction: del Potro defeats Isner
Semifinal prediction: Nadal defeats del Potro
Alexander Zverev’s quarter
Germany’s fourth seeded Zverev has yet to really prove his mettle at Grand Slam-level. He did reach the quarterfinals in Paris this season, but was not particularly impressive there and lost early at Melbourne Park and Wimbledon. But his section of the draw is navigable. He begins against a qualifier and the first seed he will face is 32nd seed Filip Krajinovic, who has won just 10 matches all year. But 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori and 13th seed Diego Schwartzman are redoubtable opposition.
2014 champion Marin Cilic, who has also reached the Wimbledon and Australian Open finals in the past 18 months, is the man seeded to face him in the quarterfinals. And expect the Croatian to be there. Alex De Minaur or Adrian Mannarino present interesting, but hardly insurmountable potential third round obstacles for Cilic. The danger man in his section is 10th seed David Goffin, but Cilic is in good form and would back himself to emerge triumphant from that battle.
Quarterfinal prediction: Cilic defeats Zverev
Roger Federer’s quarter
Federer’s quarter may not be as thick with former champions as del Potro’s, but he does face one particularly dangerous foe. He should have too much for first-round opponent Yoshihito Nishioka, but Nick Kyrgios, the 30th seed, could spell trouble for the Swiss in the third round. Fabio Fognini and Hyeon Chung are both opponent’s of quality and the Italian famously shocked Nadal from two-sets down in 2015. Nonetheless, Federer should have enough to at least make the quarterfinals.
But the man he will likely have to get past there is another matter entirely. Novak Djokovic, the 13-time Grand Slam champion, most recently at Wimbledon, who beat Federer in Cincinnati, was the man all of the top four seeds would have hoped to avoid and Federer hasn’t. The Serb may have to get past either Richard Gasquet, Lucas Pouille or 2017 semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta. But none of the 15 men around him will be the source of too much fear for the two-time former champion.
Quarterfinal prediction: Djokovic defeats Federer
Semifinal prediction: Djokovic defeats Cilic
Final prediction: Djokovic defeats Nadal