Will The Chase For The US Open Men’s Title Be Predictable Once Again?

Starting with Roger Federer’s win at Wimbledon in 2004, only seven different men’s players have won major titles. That’s a span of 14 years and 56 major tournaments. The players are Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic.

It’s pretty safe to say than one of those seven will win the 2018 US Open men’s singles title.

The least likely among this group are Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray. Both are coming off of serious injuries and surgeries (hip surgery for Andy Murray and knee surgery for Wawrinka) so the likelihood of them winning are slim.

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, who has also reached the Wimbledon and Australian Open finals within the last 14 months, would be the next longest shot along with del Porto. Del Potro is playing his 22nd Grand Slam and Cilic is playing his 15th since winning US Open titles respectively. Either could set an Open Era record for most attempts before winning a second Grand Slam. Del Potro reached the semifinals last year – including a win over Federer in the quarterfinals – and his win in Indian Wells in March – prove that he is a force to be reckoned with on hard courts this year. To boot, he has belief that he can win on the grand stage of New York City after having won the title in 2009 beating Federer in a five-set final for his lone major singles title to date.

Next come the three overwhelming favorites, according to 888sport, – top seed and defending champion Nadal, Wimbledon champion Djokovic and five-time champ Federer.

Nadal is rightly the favorite, buoyed with his title in Toronto heading into New York and yet another amazing clay court season, capped by his incredible 11th French Open title. To boot, the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are playing slow, which perfectly plays into Nadal ‘s game. Nadal has lost three matches in 2018 — the same number he lost in 2013 entering the US Open. Nadal is 40-3 this season and was 53-3 at the start of the 2013 US Open, where he won his 13th Grand Slam title. The Spaniard has won six Grand Slam titles as the top seed, including the US Open in 2010 and 2017.

Despite being seeded No. 6, Djokovic is the No. 2 favorite for the title, based on his return to form after two years of injuries and mental fatigue. His title at Wimbledon announced his return to the top of the tennis world and he comes into the US Open hot after beating Roger Federer in the final of Cincinnati to become the first player to complete the modern-sweep of all “Masters Series” titles – to go with his career Grand Slam as well. Djokovic went 6-6 in his first six tournaments of 2018. He is 27-4 in six events since.

Federer is 37 years old and is not only battling these six other major contenders, but a brigade of youngsters, some of which really believe they can defeat the awe-inspiring 20-time major singles champion.

Federer is the all-time leader with 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles and 310 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. The Swiss could extend those records and set several new ones during the 2018 US Open. Federer seeks his sixth US Open title, which would break a three-way tie for most in the Open Era. Federer, 37, bids to become the oldest US Open champion in the Open Era (and oldest US Open finalist since 1974).

Among the outsiders from these seven contenders are three players who have never won a major title. Alexander Zverev reaches the most attention as the No. 4 seed, who has yet to excel on the Grand Slam tournament stage. However, with new super coach Ivan Lendl in his corner, keep a close eye on the German. John Isner, the top American player, is going through his best stretch of tennis, winning his first Masters Series title in Miami, and achieving his career results at the French Open (Round of 16) and Wimbledon (semifinals). Also to look out for Kevin Anderson, who took advantage of the open draw last year blown open by the late withdrawal of Andy Murray to reach the final, losing to Nadal, but also made his own hole in the draw at Wimbledon earlier this summer beating both Federer and Isner in extended fifth-set matches to reach the final, falling to Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal