By LORENZO CIOTTI
Novak Djokovic will play the U.S. Open 2020 to win his 18th slam and get even closer to the record, which is two Majors away from him: those that separate him from Roger Federer’s 20 Slam, with Rafael Nadal in the middle, with his 19 titles.
A victory would allow Nole to add another important step to his path, but the road is not that simple.
After a theoretically easy first week, with Dzumhur in the first round, one between Bublik and Edmund in the second round (both insidious) and a hypothetical third round against Struff, Nole could meet John Isner in the second round, whose bomber characteristics could worry him about this surface. In the quarter-finals the world number 1 could contend with Denis Shapovalov, who seems to be the favourite in a draw zone whose top seed is David Goffin but which includes, among others, Opelka and Krajinovic, in great shape this week.
Djokovic’s hypothetical semifinal should be with Stefanos Tsitsipas, in the most comfortable part of the draw at least until the quarter-finals (Borna Coric, who could cross in the third round, seems to be the only one capable of being able to worry him), where the Greek should find Zverev.
Here, using the conditional is even more important, given the certainly not optimal conditions displayed by the German during the week of the Western and Southern Open; Sascha, however, like Stefanos, seems to have a fairly smooth road, even if the first round against the convalescent Kevin Anderson could hold some surprises.
In the bottom-half, seed number two Dominic Thiem should have an easy time until the third round, where the Australian Open finalist is likely to find himself up against 2014 champion Marin Cilic.
Thiem’s hypothetical fourth round is against Felix Auger-Aliassime, while the Austrian’s quarterfinal opponent will come out of one of the most interesting areas of the main draw, including players such as Karen Khachanov, Jannik Sinner, Roberto Bautista, Alex De Minaur and Milos Raonic.
In the semifinals, theoretically, Thiem would find the outgoing finalist Daniil Medvedev: the Russian could walk in the first week, before the hypothetical eighth with Grigor Dimitrov.
Matteo Berrettini number six of the seeding, will face the Japanese Soeda, before a second round against one between Humbert and Sugita.
Matteo’s first week would end with one of Ruud, Bedene, McDonald or Ruusuvuori, while the opponent in the second round should be the same Andrey Rublev whom Berrettini already faced and beaten a year ago here in New York.
Watch out for Andy Murray: the Scotsman is returning to shape and could be the most insidious outsider for all bottom-half competitors. Novak Djokovic is the natural favorite for the final victory: he is the one who more than the others will have more chances to win the 140th edition of the US Open: at the Western and Southern Open Nole showed an excellent level of play and a great physical shape.
The other rivals will leave to play for it: Thiem, Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas will have their chances. Maybe one of them will finally triumph in New York. Outsiders Andy Murray and Milos Raonic, in great shape these days in New York.
Out Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini, Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Jarry.
-Culled from tennisworldusa.org
By LORENZO CIOTTI