US Open 2018 Preview

Summer is ending and kids are heading back to school, which means it’s time for tennis’ last major: The US Open. It seems like every major, we talk about the same people. And in the time between Wimbledon and now, no one has really made a push into the conversation. There has been two Master’s 1000 events since Wimbledon and they were won by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (Who also happened to win the previous two majors). So rather than looking at who I think will win it (Because it’s always the same people), let’s look at draws to see who has the easiest path to a victory.

The top four seeds (in order) are Nadal, Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Alexander Zverez. All four are capable of winning this tournament, but everyone will be looking at Nadal and Federer in this one. Nadal’s quarter looks the easiest of the four. Luckily for him, his five seed is Kevin Anderson. Although Anderson has good results and is a huge hitter, he’s very beatable for Nadal. In fact, Nadal beat him in last year’s US Open Final. Although Nadal has the easiest quarter, he has the toughest first round match, facing David Ferrer. Unfortunately for Federer, I think he has the toughest draw. He could end up facing Nick Kyrgios in the third round. Although Kyrgios hasn’t won anything big recently, when his mind is right, he’s one of the most dangerous players on the planet. Assuming Federer gets through Kyrgios, he’ll meet up with Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Not only did Djokovic win Wimbledon, he also just beat Federer in the finals of the Western and Southern Open a couple weeks ago. Djokovic is definitely the most dangerous of the 5-8 seeds.

Both Zverev and Del Potro have pretty standard draws. The first real opponent we could see Zverez face is Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman in round 4. He’ll meet up with Cilic in the quarterfinals should they both make it that far. Del Potro’s draw is interesting because he seems to have a lot of old names looking to get back on track. He could meet up with Andy Murray in round 3. His round four match could end up being Greek phenom Stefanos Tsitsipas. And then in the quarterfinals, he could end up facing Grigor Dimitrov, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, or John Isner, all of who could be very dangerous.

For the women, we have (in order) Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, and Angelique Kerber. Halep’s first real match will be round 4, where she could potentially face the winner of a Williams’ sister showdown. Kerber seems to have the toughest of the top four seeds. She could face Coco Vandeweghe or Madison Keys in round 4, then either Maria Sharapova, Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta, or Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki’s first first tough opponent will be Kiki Bertens in round 4. In the quarters, we could see her face Petra Kvitova or Naomi Osaka. For Stephens, she may have the easiest quarter. She could meet up with Victoria Azarenka in round 3. Her toughest round 4 match would be Elise Mertens and her quarterfinals match would likely be Julia Goerges or Elina Svitolina. Of course, women’s tennis is at unpredictable as the weather, so we may see all of the best knocked out by round 4 (like at Wimbledon).

On the women’s side, I’m predicting a win by Sloane Stephens. She’s the reigning champ and has been playing well this year. Plus, she’ll have the crowd on her side, being the highest seeded American. For the men, our winner could be any one of Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer. My personal pick is Nadal. He played an incredible match vs Djokovic at Wimbledon, which is one of his worst surfaces. The hard court could be exactly what he needs to blow past the competition. Another prediction I’m going to make is that Stefanos Tsitsipas will come out of his quarter. Del Potro is a great player, but Stefanos has looked good and could cause problems for the Argentinian in the quarterfinals. Also, the one thing I’m rooting for this tournament is a Nadal/Federer final. Not just because it’s a historic rivalry, but because these two have NEVER met at ANY point in the US Open. Let that sink in. These two men have meant in countless finals in countless tournaments. But they’ve never met in any round in the US Open. To me, it’s one of the most unbelievable stats in sports.

-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)

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