The US Open 2020 is all set to begin on Monday, albeit with a depleted playing field. On the men’s side, the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal opens up the field to a great extent. The likes of Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev all have a bigger opportunity now to win a first Grand Slam title. There is no doubt that Novak Djokovic is the favorite to win his fourth US Open.
On the women’s side, six of the top 10 players in the world will miss the event. The women’s draw has seen many upsets and surprise Grand Slam winners in recent years, unlike the men’s draw that has been dominated by Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will hope to live up to their bidding. But this year will provide an even bigger chance for a new star to emerge.
The talk is mainly about Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams extending their Grand Slam records. But who would not like to see a dark horse emerge and challenge the best?
The Canadian former Grand Slam finalist found form at the perfect time. He reached the final of the Western and Southern Open just two days before the US Open 2020 begins. The last couple of years have been marred by injuries for Raonic, but he knows what it takes to challenge the best players.
In the Cincinnati Open final against Djokovic, he even looked good for the victory after taking the first set 6-1. Raonic has a tough draw at the US Open and could face 8th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the 3rd round. But the new Laykold courts at the US Open clearly seem to favor the server and Raonic’s huge serve is envied by many. He will hope to repeat his Wimbledon 2016 heroics, and go one step further.
One of the tallest men on tour, John Isner is always a dangerous player. The home hope is another player that could benefit from the new courts. His serve is already called unreturnable by many players and could be even more difficult to counter this year. A potential fourth-round clash with Novak Djokovic is his biggest obstacle, but Isner will fancy his chances if he has a good day on serve, which he usually does.
The Russian is a definite underdog. He has a strong baseline game, an impressive serve and is known to challenge the top players every time he faces them. The huge forehand sets him up well, and Khachanov has proved in the past that he can last the mental battle as well in five-set matches. His epic battle against Rafael Nadal at the 2018 US Open is a memorable one. The 11th seed Khachanov can surely prove to be a dark horse this year.
The former world number one is well and truly back. She won the Western and Southern Open for her first title in four years. It comes at the most right time for her. The two-time Australian Open champion dropped just one set on her way to the title. A week ago, it seemed highly unlikely that Azarenka would raise so many eyebrows, but she is feeling confident. There are players seeded above her in the draw, but Azarenka knows what it takes to win a Grand Slam event.
An American rising youngster is always a fun prospect at the US Open. And who better to get the interest going than the 16-year old prodigy Coco Gauff. She shot to fame after beating her idol Venus Williams at Wimbledon last year. She followed that up with a win over Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open this year. Gauff is a confident player who will not fear any opponent. Despite losing early at the Western and Southern Open, her semi-final appearance in Lexington does good for her confidence.
The Belgian Elise Mertens was in fantastic form in the run-up to US Open. She reached the final of the Prague Open. Earlier this week, she reached the semi-final of the Western and Southern Open. There she gave Naomi Osaka a real run for her money but just fell short. She was a quarter-finalist in New York last year, and her best appearance in a Grand Slam is the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open.