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U.S. Open 2019 top five favourites - who are the leading contenders for the final Grand Slam of the year?

Andrew Hendrie in News 21 Aug 2019
  • Top five favourites for the 2019 U.S. Open
  • The U.S. Open is live from New York between August 26 and September 8
Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

The 2019 U.S. Open is just around the corner, and ahead of he final Grand Slam of the year, we’ve picked out our top five favourites for the men’s and women’s singles titles.

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Men


1. Novak Djokovic

You simply can’t go past the World No. 1 and defending champion at the moment - despite his semi-final defeat at the Cincinnati Masters last week to Daniil Medvedev. No man has defended the U.S. Open title since Roger Federer in 2008, but Djokovic is in a strong position to break that streak over the next fortnight in New York. The Serbian has won four of the last five majors and is the undisputed best player in the world, leading No. 2 Rafael Nadal by 3,740 points. Putting it simply, Djokovic is a different beast in Grand Slams and it will take a near-perfect performance to knock him out - and even that might not be enough if the top seed is at the peak of his powers. Djokovic is a three-time champion at Flushing Meadows and I expect him to make it four on September 8.

2. Rafael Nadal

There’s no doubt Nadal, when he’s operating at his best level, has what it takes to win the U.S. Open - he’s claimed the title three times like Djokovic after all - but the main concern with the Spaniard on hardcourts is always his fitness, especially at this stage of the season. Nadal has withdrawn or retired from the overwhelming majority of his hardcourt tournaments over the last two years, including last year in the U.S. Open semi-finals. I think two factors have to come into play for Nadal to prevail for a fourth time in New York - 100 per cent fitness and somebody else stunning Djokovic early in the tournament….

3. Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev has never been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam, but his form coming into the U.S. Open is impossible to ignore. The Russian made back-to-back finals in Washington and the Canada Masters before knocking out Djokovic on the way to his maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati last month. Medvedev’s flat, awkward, powerful, consistent and funky baseline game is perfectly suited to hardcourts - he’s won more matches than anyone on the surface over the last two years, but the primary challenge for the 23-year-old is to now produce that sort of level when it matters most: in a Grand Slam over best-of-five sets. It’s a task that the majority of young guns are finding difficult at the moment - can Medvedev step out from the crowd in New York?

4. Roger Federer

You can’t leave five-time champion Federer off the list, despite the Swiss winning just one match since Wimbledon and failing to capture the U.S. Open since 2008. Federer was twice one point away from beating Djokovic for the Wimbledon title, so he’s obviously well and truly still in the mix when it comes to major titles, but he’s failed to make it past the quarter-finals in New York since his run to the 2015 final, suffering a shock fourth round loss to John Millman last year. Depending on the draw, you’d expect Federer to work his way into the semi-finals this year, but I just don’t see him coming close to Djokovic on hardcourts at the moment…

5. Stefanos Tsitsipas

The men’s game is in a bit of a rut at the moment, with hardly any players stepping up and challenging the Big Three this season - at least when it matters most in the slams. Tsitsipas was one of the few who did take it to a member of the Big Three at a slam this season, conquering Federer on his way to the Australian Open semi-finals, where he was ultimately crushed by Nadal. Tsitsipas has lost his last three matches coming into the U.S. Open, but I still think he’s a better chance than say Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov to take out Djokovic, Federer or Nadal and possibly reach the semis or final.


Women


1. Serena Williams

In stark contrast to the men, I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of 20 or so women claimed the U.S. Open title - and at the top of the list, I have six-time champion Serena Williams. A lot depends on Serena’s fitness after she retired in the Rogers Cup final and withdrew from Cincinnati with a back injury, but if she’s fully recovered, this could be the American’s time to grab that elusive 24th major crown. Serena has proven three times since her comeback last year that she can make a Grand Slam final, but I do think she’s been more nervous than usual in the twilight of her career when it comes to the title match. Returning to the scene of her infamous outburst in last year’s final, can Serena put everything together for a successful fortnight in New York?

2. Bianca Andreescu

Yes, I’m putting the 19-year-old as my second favourite for the U.S. Open title - and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch at all. Andreescu is a perfect 7-0 against top 10 players this season, storming to big titles in Indian Wells and the Rogers Cup - and I see no reason why she can’t do it in a Grand Slam this upcoming fortnight. Andreescu has been bothered by shoulder injuries for large chunks of the season, but like Serena, if she’s fit, the Canadian is a formidable force. Andreescu won’t be overawed by the occasion and has the weapons to beat anyone in the draw. If she makes the second week, watch out…

3. Madison Keys

This might be a knee-jerk reaction with Keys winning the Cincinnati title last week, but at her best, the hard-hitting American is a genuine threat for the U.S. Open title. Keys has traditionally always saved her best tennis for the slams, so we know she has no problem with producing her best tennis in the big moments, but the way she finished off her Cincinnati run was extremely impressive as she be a Simona Halep and then Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin and a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova without dropping a set. Keys has the power, serve and baseline weapons to hit anyone off the court if she’s firing on all cylinders, and with the home crowd support, she can certainly repeat her 2017 run to the final.

4. Naomi Osaka

I’ll throw Osaka’s name into the ring, even though I’m not too confident in her ability to defend her title. The World No. 1 lit up New York last year as she exploded onto the scene to win her first Grand Slam title, beating Serena in that now-infamous final, but she’s struggled significantly since capturing her second major at the Australian Open, failing to beat a top 20 player since January and suffering a number of poor defeats. However, Osaka has - by her own admission - re-discovered her love for tennis, which I think makes her dangerous again. A free-hitting and relaxed Osaka is as good as anyone on tour, so if she can find that bubble in New York, she’s got what it takes to emerge triumphant.

5. Ashleigh Barty

Simona Halep was my other fifth pick, but with the Wimbledon champion losing in the opening round of the U.S. Open the last two years and under a bit of an injury cloud, Barty edges it. The Australian has taken her game to another level in 2019, winning her first Grand Slam and Premier Mandatory titles at Roland Garros and Miami respectively, along with hitting the No. 1 ranking after prevailing in Birmingham. However, Barty has struggled a tad since that moment, losing early at Wimbledon and Rogers Cup before regrouping for a semi-final finish in Cincinnati. The spotlight has lifted from Barty a little over the last month or so, which I think will help her in New York, but winning a second major of 2019 could be a stretch…

The 2019 U.S. Open is live from August 26 to September 8.


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U.S. Open 2019 top five favourites - who are the leading contenders for the final Grand Slam of the year?

The 2019 U.S. Open is just around the corner, and ahead of he final Grand Slam of the year, we’ve picked out our top five favourites for the men’s and women’s singles titles.

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