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US Open 2020: Men’s singles draw analysis, preview and predictions

hannahwilks in US Open 28 Aug 2020
Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win the US Open men’s title (PA Images)

Novak Djokovic is the man to beat but is there a player in the US Open men’s singles draw in a position to do it?

We break down the men’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev lead the draw at the 2020 US Open.

US Open 2020: Preview

The 2020 US Open is being played behind closed doors, with players (hopefully) adhering to strict health and safety protocols and enclosed in a bio-security bubble. With no fans and no strolling the streets of Manhattan in the evening, some of the ATP’s top players have opted not to travel, with defending champion Rafael Nadal, five-time winner Roger Federer and 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka among the absentees.
As the solitary representative of the Big Four who is a realistic prospect for the title, the trophy looks to be Novak Djokovic’s to lose, especially with the top seed coming in unbeaten in 2020 and quickly finding his feet at the ‘Cincinnati’-New York Masters. Is Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev or Dominic Thiem in a position to stop him?

US Open Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Goffin (7)
The overwhelming favourite for the title, with a 21-0 record in 2020 at the time of writing and the experience of winning 17 majors when almost every other player in the draw has yet to lift one, Djokovic is everybody’s favourite for US Open champion, especially after the way he has played at the Western & Southern Open this week.

Nothing about the draw has changed that. Djokovic opens against Damir Dzumhur and could face Kyle Edmund – who has beaten him on clay before, but is unlikely to repeat the feat on a hard court most describe as playing fast – in the second round, with Jan-Lennard Struff, whom he trounced this week in ‘Cincinnati’, a likely third-round opponent. John Isner, who has lost his last seven matches against Djokovic, could await in the last 16.

Denis Shapovalov has an opportunity to make a deep run (PA Images)

With seventh seed David Goffin facing big-serving Reilly Opelka in the first round – assuming Opelka has recovered from the knee injury that saw him retire against Tsitsipas on Wednesday – opportunity knocks for another quarterfinalist. Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has been spinning his wheels in 2020, but he’s got a good opportunity here – unless Filip Krajinovic, who played brilliant tennis to reach the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals, can pull an upset.

Predicted semifinalist: Djokovic (7/25 @ 888Sport to win first quarter)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs Alexander Zverev (5)
Should it come to a quarterfinal clash between these two ATP Finals champions, it’s advantage Tsitsipas – the Greek leads the head-to-head 5-1.

He also looks much more likely to reach the last eight than Zverev. Tsitsipas has warmed up nicely with a run to the semifinals (at the time of writing) at the Western & Southern Open, and if he can safely navigate a first-round clash with savvy Spanish veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas – a former French Open quarterfinalist, but less at home at the US Open – then there are no other players in his path to really threaten before the quarterfinals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has an advantage over fellow ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev (PA Images)

That’s not the case for Zverev, who has to deal with former finalist Kevin Anderson in the first round, and a potential rematch with Diego Schwartzman, the tenacious Argentine who knocked him out of the US Open in the round of 16 in 2019, in the third. Big-serving Pole Hubert Hurkacz is also in this section. Overall, this looks like a clear opportunity for Tsitsipas to make a run.

Predicted semifinalist: Tsitsipas (6/5 @ Unibet to win second quarter)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Matteo Berrettini (6) vs Daniil Medvedev (3)
Medvedev has been at the head of a short list of contenders who could potentially challenge Djokovic for the title, and being placed in the bottom half of the draw – so he can only face Djokovic in the final – has only improved his chances. The 2019 runner-up drew on energy from the New York crowd to fuel his run to the final, and his spirited five-set challenge to Nadal; this year, he can neither draw on them, nor on the lack of expectation which was on his shoulders in 2019. How will he cope?

The Russian played a solid couple of Western & Southern Open matches, but his failure to adapt to his opponent’s tactical shift saw him lose from what looked like a firm winning position – not for the first time. In order to win this title, Medvedev needs to keep his matches short in the first week and he has the draw to do it, opening against Federico Delbonis with Guido Pella in the third round and one of last year’s surprise semifinalists, Grigor Dimitrov, possibly in the fourth – but does he have the focus?

Could Andrey Rublev be the surprise package at this year’s US Open? (PA Images)

At the top of this section, big-serving Matteo Berrettini has only played four matches so far in 2020 so is coming in incredibly light on match fitness; could the 2019 semifinalist be vulnerable to an early upset, possibly at the hands of Casper Ruud or rising Finn Emil Ruusuvuori?
It’s Andrey Rublev who’s the man to watch in this quarter. The Russian is 15-4 in 2020 and made the last 16 of last year’s US Open before losing to Berrettini. If Medvedev is to falter, Rublev is the man to take advantage – but he’s 0-3 against his compatriot.

Predicted semifinalist: Rublev (13/2 @ 888Sport to win his quarter)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Roberto Bautista Agut (8) vs Dominic Thiem (2)
What to make of Thiem’s US Open chances? The Austrian pushed Djokovic all the way in the Australian Open final in January, but a brutal one-sided defeat to Krajinovic at the Western & Southern Open has dented his contender status.

Perhaps it was just a fluke – Krajinovic is a very talented player who had a great week – but if Thiem has to play his way into form, that could mean lengthy matches in the first week which could drain his reserves ahead of bigger clashes in the second.

Opening against Jaume Munar, Thiem could face 2014 champion Marin Cilic in the third round, and there are a few potential challenges in the fourth: Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Canadian overdue for a solid run at a major; Andy Murray, who may have a metal hip but also has more experience winning matches than anybody else in the draw save Djokovic; and Dan Evans, who is having a career-best year.

Milos Raonic has looked on good form at the Western & Southern Open (PA Images)

Bautista Agut, meanwhile, impressed with a win over Medvedev to reach the Western & Southern Open semifinals, but he has a tough first round against Tennys Sandgren and looks likely to meet Milos Raonic – who leads their head-to-head 5-0 – in the third round. Another big server, like Karen Khachanov, Sam Querrey or Ivo Karlovic, could lurk for the winner of that one in the fourth. I like Raonic’s chances to make a quarterfinal run, and it looks by no means certain that he’ll meet Thiem there.

Semifinalist: Raonic (4/1 @ William Hill to win his quarter)

US Open 2020 Men’s Singles: Prediction

Semifinals: Djokovic d. Tsitsipas
Rublev vs Raonic

Final: Djokovic d. Rublev