The 2022 US Open gets under way on Monday. Andy Schooler looks ahead to what looks like a wide-open men’s singles.
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World ranking: 6
Tournament history (most recent 1st): RU, 4R, 4R, W, RU, W, SF, RU, RU, W, RU, SF, SF, RU, 3R, 3R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 21 times
2022 record: 23-5 (2 titles – Wimbledon, Rome)
Hardcourt form: None
Will the tournament favourite even be in the draw when the first ball is struck on Monday? It seems unlikely. At time of writing, Djokovic was banned from entering the USA due to his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. There have been suggestions that could change in the coming days but even if it does, could you back a 6/4 shot who hasn’t played in seven weeks at a tournament he’s won ‘only’ three times in 16 visits?
World ranking: 1
Tournament history (most recent 1st): W-SF-RU-3R-1R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 2021 US Open
2022 record: 34-12 (1 title – Los Cabos)
Hardcourt form: SF Cincinnati, L32 Montreal, W Los Cabos
World number one he may be, but Medvedev has won just a single title since his maiden Grand Slam triumph in New York 12 months ago. That has to be a concern for potential backers. Still, he’ll take comfort from his strong record at Flushing Meadows where’s he made at least the semi-finals in each of the last three years. At his best, Medvedev holds strong claims but we’ve not seen that top level too often in 2022. Another factor to consider is how the Russian reacts to the notorious New York crowd. The Australians certainly wound him up in Melbourne in January – and that was prior to the invasion of Ukraine.
World ranking: 3
Tournament history (most recent 1st): W-SF-W-4R-3R-W-RU-W-SF-SF-4R-QF-3R-2R-2R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 22 times
2022 record: 35-4 (4 titles – French Open, Australian Open, Acapulco, Melbourne)
Hardcourt form: L32 Cincinnati
So much appears to rest on Nadal’s fitness. After all, this is a man who’s won on four of his last eight visits to New York and one who has suffered just four defeats this season, winning both the Australian Open and French Open in the process. Only an abdominal injury stopped his Grand Slam bid at Wimbledon, one from which he’s only just returned. The comeback began in Cincinnati and Nadal was beaten in his opening match. However, that tight loss to Borna Coric was given some perspective by the victor’s subsequent title run. The Spaniard will be hoping for a kind draw on Thursday and, if things go his way, he may well get the chance to play himself into this tournament. If that’s the case, then he will likely prove a tough nut to crack in the second week.
World ranking: 4
Tournament history (most recent 1st): QF
Best Grand Slam performance: QF, 2022 French Open & 2021 US Open
2022 record: 44-9 (4 titles – Madrid, Barcelona, Miami, Rio)
Hardcourt form: QF Cincinnati, L32 Montreal
Alcaraz was all the rage back in the spring as he surged to title after title and thoughts of a record-breaking season began to emerge. He actually went as short as 7/2 in this market but he arrives in New York without a title since Madrid in early May. Six tournaments have passed since. While clearly hugely-talented, the fact remains Alcaraz is yet to go beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam event and that’s a significant hurdle that needs to be overcome. Given his dip in form, there’s little firm evidence to suggest it’s about to happen here.
World ranking: 26
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 1R, 3R, 3R, 1R, 3R, 1R, 3R, 1R
Best Grand Slam performance: RU, 2022 Wimbledon
2022 record: 31-9 (1 title – Washington)
Hardcourt form: L32 Cincinnati, QF Montreal, W Washington
Backing Kyrgios consistently at 7/1 has proved to be some pretty bad business over the years but now it seems like his mentality might finally have settled at the required level. He was fully dialled in at Wimbledon, making the final, and he’s since won the title in Washington, as well as defeating world number one Medvedev in Montreal. The problem is while things may have improved mentally, have they physically? Kyrgios was complaining of an aching body after losing in Montreal – he’s simply not used to playing a lot of tennis and his body hasn’t been able to regularly stand up to even a light schedule in the past. Add in the fact that he’s never made the second week in New York and it’s hard to back him with confidence at this price.
World ranking: 5
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 3R, 3R, 1R, 2R
Best Grand Slam performance: RU, 2021 French Open
2022 record: 46-16 (2 titles – Mallorca, Monte Carlo)
Hardcourt form: RU Cincinnati, L32 Montreal
Another player who’s yet to go beyond the third round of the US Open, although he’ll be confident of doing so this time around after his recent run to the final in Cincinnati. Once there, he was beaten by Borna Coric though in a match which once again showed shortcomings on the Greek’s backhand side. The pace of the Laykold courts in New York won’t help on that front either. There seem more likely winners.
Best of the rest
Given we’re able to pick holes (of various sizes) in all the leading contenders, it’s certainly worth considering some of those from further down the market.
Briton Cam Norrie looks worth a second glance at 40/1 given his form which includes a semi-final appearance in Cincinnati and a runners-up finish in Los Cabos.
In the past, I’d have felt it was a bit quick here for Norrie to succeed but he didn’t look rushed in Cincy, another speedy venue, while it should be remembered he made the last four at Wimbledon only last month, a run which will have filled him with belief that he is a genuine contender at this level.
Pablo Carreno Busta is another who catches the eye at 70/1.
He’s twice made the semi-finals in New York, albeit both runs came on the DecoTurf surface which has since been replaced by what is widely regarded as faster Laykold.
The Spaniard was in great form in Montreal where he emerged as the surprise champion and at a venue he’s enjoyed in the past, he certainly can’t be written off.
Auger-Aliassime made the quarter-finals in both Montreal and Cincinnati and his big serve is well suited to the slick courts of Flushing Meadows.
The Canadian, who broke his ATP Tour title duck earlier this season, made the semis here 12 months ago to prove he has the game to do well here and only lost to the eventual champion, Medvedev.
As for Cilic, the 2014 winner is a match for anyone when his serve-forehand combination clicks, as it did for long periods of this year’s French Open, where he reached the last four.
Cruelly denied a title bid at Wimbledon a few weeks later by COVID, Cilic should relish the slick conditions here and, as he showed eight years ago, if he gets in the groove he’ll be difficult to stop.
He’ll probably need a good draw but there are certainly worse prices than this around.
Who has won the most men's US Open titles in the Open Era?
- 5x Pete Sampras
- 5x Jimmy Connors
- 5x Roger Federer
- 4x John McEnroe
- 4x Rafael Nadal
- 3x Novak Djokovic
- 3x Ivan Lendl