ATP US Open Draw: Three players with the most favorable title paths


    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 24: Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot to Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 24, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Now that the US Open draw has been officially released, the questions have been swirled as to which players will make it through to the finals and who will have the easiest paths to the title. We take a look at the three players with the easiest draws and break down round-by-round how they’ll have to get through.

    Djokovic notably doesn’t have a particularly strong opponent until semifinals. He’ll have two easy wins to start the tournament, which will set up a third-round matchup with Jan-Lennard Struff. Apparently, the US Open decided that Djokovic’s domination at the Western & Southern Open wasn’t enough.

    Heading into Round 4, the World #1 faces his toughest challenge so far. Isner has been known to deal a sporadic surprise upset; he defeated Alexander Zverev to win the 2018 Masters 1000 Miami (during Zverev’s best year) and has reached two major QFs and the 2018 Wimbledon SF.

    It shouldn’t be a difficult task for Djokovic, however. He hasn’t lost to the big-serving American since the 2013 Cincinnati quarterfinals and currently holds a 10-3 head-to-head advantage over him, as well. Djokovic’s 21-0 record this season (which could very well end up being 25-1 or 26-0 by the time this projected matchup rolls around) includes wins over every player currently ranked 2nd through 6th, whereas Isner has yet to notch a top ten win so far this year.

    Denis Shapovalov and David Goffin are the two most likely quarterfinal opponents, given their current ranking and success this year so far. Shapovalov is the prime example of a fire-and-ice type of player that could give Djokovic a heap of trouble if the young Canadian walks with fire into Arthur Ashe Stadium.

    He hasn’t defeated Djokovic yet in five career meetings but came incredibly close at this past January’s ATP Cup (Djokovic won in a third set). Goffin has had a ton of success on tour but it simply hasn’t come against Djokovic. His only win was during Djokovic’s injury-laden 2017 season.

    The real tests begin in the last two rounds of the tournament, where all four of the “NextGen” players will likely sit and wait for him. Their rise to the top has been the main topic of conversation for a few years now. Dominic Thiem has reached three Grand Slam finals but has yet to prevail in any of them. Medvedev nearly came back to defeat Rafael Nadal in his lone major final, and both Tsitipas and Zverev have appeared in major semis.

    Djokovic has fared well against all of them but the dynamic could vastly change if they roll into the event at their highest levels. Thiem was drubbed in his first match at the Western & Southern Open, Zverev bowed out in the same round, and Medvedev eventually followed suit in the quarters. Tsitsipas is the only remaining NextGen player in this week’s tournament but given the five-month layoff from true competitive play, the results of this event speak more so to the rust of all players rather than the surprising losses by the game’s best.

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