1. Novak Djokovic: Your prohibitive favorite. Unbeaten for the year and now entering a major that Federer and Nadal lack. (It’s not clear that a faster court surface works to its detriment.) A tough offseason for Djokovic in the PR department. He can grab some goodwill by adding to his major loot.2. Dominic Thiem: If only we could call it the “US Open 2020 Exhibition”. Finalist in the previous major, Thiem takes advantage of Nadal’s absence and goes to No.2. But he is a first round loser at USO in 2019, and a first round loser at Cincy-off-the-BQE .3. Daniil Medvedev: Finalist last year in a revolutionary tournament that saw him go from pirate to admiral in a few days. Before the pandemic, he had lost three of his last four games. Lots of play. But is he ready for a best-of-five series?
4. Stefanos Tsitsipas: The Greek Carrying Gifts is one of the first four seeds and by his own admission is in good open space. Has only won one of three career games he’s played at the US Open, but the surface should be to his liking. One of those actors who could be impacted by the environment.
5. Alexander Zverev: The ballstriking is top of the line. But it’s hard to see him as a contender until he has had couples therapy with his service. Also deal with multiple distractions off the court. On the bright side: he’s reached round four or better at four of the last five Majors.
6. Matteo Berrettini: A terrific surprise semi-final at last year’s US Open. Go ahead and question the predictive value, but it comes after playing the lights in a lot of exhibits. If we assume this is an outlier to win, you could be doing worse than supporting him as a surprise title winner.
7. David Goffin: Now coached by Thomas Johansson, the Goff have played a lot of summer balls and remain the new David Ferrer (an undersized pro who is beatable but unable to fight). A difficult first round against Opelka. Has reached the fourth round in Queens each of the past three years. If he escapes his first game, he should do at least one lap better in 2020.
8. Roberto Bautista Agut: She is moving forward, as the Raconteurs would say. No chances of winning. Not likely to retire early. The proverbial “adversary that no one wants to face”. (Although you can say the same for his first-round opponent, Tennys Sandgren.)
9. Diego Schwartzman: Once again: if tennis were weight classes, he could be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. An admirable overperformer who will always struggle to go seven rounds without being surprised. But you can’t help but support it. And the mere mention of his name gives us an excuse to link this.
dix. André Rublev: Still only 22 years old, he already had a career arc. Reached tournament week two in two of three years he played in the US Open main draw. Lost to Evans to Cincy, but don’t read too much about it.
11. Karen Khachanov: A bit of a struggling asset. So many things to love, especially the safinesque play from the backcourt. But courage, and therefore results, do not follow talent. Starts against young Jannik Sinner.
12. Denis Shapovalov: Do not schedule the night train for the first game at 11:00 am. Waiting for the breakthrough. But saved his 2019 season at the US Open and maybe do it again in 2020.
13. Christian Garin: Congratulations to the little-known Chilean for this seedling. And he certainly can’t complain about his draw.
14. Grigor Dimitrov: “Why did this happen? I blame the Bulgarian! It has been an eventful summer for Dimitrov, whose COVID period included a positive test. It is not known if it is made for the best of the five. But he’s still a fun player to watch, still a gentleman worthy of your support… and he beat Federer on his way to the semi-finals the last time they hosted this event.
15. Felix Auger-Aliassime: As the show gets a little impatient, note that he’s still not allowed to drink and he’s still on the cusp of the top 20. Look for that second round against Andy Murray.
16. John Isner: Rested and playing on a greased lightning pitch. Just a pity for him that Djokovic is looming in his neighborhood.
23. Daniel Evans: Precisely the kind of streaky, evil player who can go far in this crazy event.
24. Hubert Hurkacz: A polar star; and the best player you have, perhaps, ever seen.
25. Milos Raonic: A pro from the pro, who struggles to stay healthy but can do a lot of damage by marrying who serve – especially in this field – with that attention to detail.
31. Marin Cilic: The names of former champions are verified. Even when they may be past their prime.
Reilly Opelka: A candidate, yes, mainly on the basis of his serve on the fast courts; but doesn’t get enough credit for the rest of his game.
Andy Murray: The ogre worries about his best-of-five game. But – aside from being a former champion – his game to Cincy must hopefully send him back.
Tennys Sandgren: One point to reach the quarters of the previous major. Start against RBA.
Tommy Paul: Turned down a wild card at the US Open last year. This year, he arrives at the dawn of the top 50.
Jannik Sinner: The best teenager in tennis.
Nick Kyrgios: He may not be in the draw, but rest assured he will sneak into this event.
CHANGE SPECIAL: Opelka d. Goffin
DOUBLE DAILY: Paul d. Dimitrov
TRIFECTA BOX: Millman d. Basilashvili
FIRST MATCHES TO WATCH:
Isner vs. Steve Johnson: Two American veterans clash early.
Zverev c. Kevin Anderson: A seeded five against the finalist in 2017.
Karlovic c.Gasquet: Combined age = 75
DOUBLE WINNER: Farah and Cabal. But let’s stop to say hello to the Bryans.
SEMIS: Djokovic d. Tsitsipas, Raonic d. Berrettini
FINAL: Djokovic d. Raonic