How the One Percent Played

by: Steve Tignor October 09, 2013

AP Photo

NOTE: "Dark Horse" selections must be seeded No. 20 or lower; "Bust" selections must be seeded No. 10 or higher.  

Men's Champion


It’s the summer of Muzz, when everyone—hopefully—is realizing how good of a player Murray is and has been. He’s also in an easier half of the draw, while Novak Djokovic must contend with Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic.


It may be too hopeful, but Nadal’s fourth-place performance in Rio could be a sign of great things to come. He’s seeded fourth thanks to the absence of Roger Federer, and his form has shown glimpses of his old self. Not only that, but he looks like he’s enjoying himself more than ever, while Novak Djokovic looks more likely to crack than ever.


It’s been a tough couple of months for Djokovic, but he comes into the Open well-rested and determined to prove the doubters that he’s still the most dominant player in the world. Nole wins his third Slam of the season and third U.S. Open.


For the first time in a while, there are questions surrounding Djokovic, who lost early at Wimbledon and the Olympics and pulled out of Cincinnati. But for a player like Djokovic, the upside to facing questions is that it should motivate him to answer.

Women's Champion

MCGROGAN: Agnieszka Radwanska

Some might call her a dark horse, even as the No. 4 seed, but the best player never to win a major is—obviously—due. She’s landed in a cushy quarter of the draw, and while she’ll need to beat Serena or Simona Halep, the Pole has had a solid season and does well on hard courts.

PANTICSerena Williams

As everyone always says when a Grand Slam rolls around, who else could you possibly pick? Yes, she was stunned by Elina Svitolina in Rio, but she’s human. And yes, she’s had a shoulder injury, but she’s always playing with nagging pain. Slam No. 23, here she comes.

KALLET: Serena Williams

The monkey is off her back. Serena’s Wimbledon title, her 22nd Grand Slam, tied her with Steffi Graf, and while she’s still the favorite to win, the pressure is somewhat off. Garbine Muguruza is too up and down and Angelique Kerber is still learning how to be a champion. Serena passes Steffi in Flushing.

TIGNORSerena Williams

As with the men’s top seed, there are legitimate concerns surrounding Serena. There's the shoulder problem, the early exit in Rio, the Cincinnati withdrawal and a tough first-round match. But the bigger question is: Who else are you going to pick?

Men's Dark Horse

MCGROGAN: Juan Martin del Potro

It has to be, right? Let’s hope so, because the Olympics gave us a glimpse of what we’ve been missing all these months with the Argentine on the mend. I defy any manufacturer to create a tennis ball durable enough to withstand a potential Del Potro-Stan Wawrinka quarterfinal. 

PANTICIvo Karlovic 

The big-serving Croatian is having one of the best seasons of his very long career. He added his seventh and eighth career titles this year—in Newport and Los Cabos—marking the first time he’s won multiple tournaments in a season since 2007. The 37-year-old is always a treacherous floater in any draw, and on hard courts that’s amplified.

KALLET: Juan Martin del Potro

The Argentine obviously feels comfortable here—he won the whole thing in 2009—and while he isn’t back to his Grand Slam-winning self, he’s turned into a force to be reckoned with this summer, recording wins over Djokovic, Wawrinka and Nadal. He could face a difficult test in Steve Johnson in the second round, but I expect him to pull it out and advance.  

TIGNORGrigor Dimitrov

It takes a lot of faith to believe that Dimitrov, who has a 4-5 record at the Open and is seeded 22nd, could do damage. But the talent is still there, and a decent draw to the fourth round is, too.

Women's Dark Horse

MCGROGAN: Caroline Garcia 

The 22-year-old is now ranked No. 27 and has won two tournaments this season. Her breakout performance at the 2011 French Open seems like a long time ago, and she may never become world No. 1, as Murray once said. But she’s developed into a more consistent and savvy player in the meantime. 

PANTICElina Svitolina

It’s most fitting that the most dangerous player in the draw is Svitolina, the woman who denied Williams a singles medal in Rio. The 21-year-old is playing well in New Haven, and is due for a breakthrough at another Grand Slam. (She reached the French Open quarterfinals last year.)

KALLET: Belinda Bencic

Bencic has fallen to 26th in the world, and though it’s been a struggle for her this season, we know how dangerous she can be when she’s on. Is she due to find her game in Flushing? Favorable early-round matches—Samantha Crawford in the first round and either a qualifier or Andrea Petkovic in the second—should give her confidence.

TIGNORElina Svitolina

She beat Serena in Rio; even better, she’s not in Serena’s half at the Open. Svitolina, who is currently in the semis in New Haven, could go far at the bottom of the draw in New York.

Men's Bust

MCGROGAN: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

I think Cilic, seeded No. 7 and the Frenchman’s possible fourth-round opponent, is a legitimate contender for the title. That doesn’t bode well for Tsonga, one of the game’s streakiest talents—both in a match and throughout his career. 

PANTICDominic Thiem

Not long ago, Thiem would have been a sure pick for a dark horse, but the 22-year-old has worn himself into the ground. It was only a matter of time until his packed schedule would catch up to him. Since winning his fourth title of 2016 in Stuttgart, he’s struggled with injuries despite playing a reduced schedule.

KALLET: Rafael Nadal

Nadal is coming off an ugly loss to Borna Coric in Cincinnati, and he’s admitted that he’s not in top form coming into the Open. Rafa’s left wrist hasn’t completely healed, and while he should make it to the fourth round, it’s hard to imagine a semifinal run.

TIGNORGael Monfils

Many of us would love to see him continue his summer surge, and it could happen; in 2014, he had match points against Federer to reach the Open semis. But he could also lose his opener to Gilles Muller.

Women's Bust

MCGROGAN: Roberta Vinci

What could she possibly do for an encore? The Italian’s silky slice backhand can still cause anyone trouble, but I can’t see a repeat run to the final in New York, or anything close to that. Christina McHale could prove troublesome in the second round.

PANTICRoberta Vinci

She made the final last year, and pulled off one of the most shocking upsets of all time in defeating Serena in the semis. But she hasn’t been the same ever since. The Italian hasn’t made it out of the third round at a major since New York last year, and has suffered six losses to players outside the Top 30 since Rome.

KALLET: Garbiñe Muguruza 

Since winning her maiden Grand Slam in Paris, the Spaniard is just 6-4, with losses to Kirsten Flipkens and Jana Cepelova. Muguruza just isn’t dependable enough, and has been known to lay eggs against inferior players. She could face Monica Puig, who hammered her in Rio, in the third round.

TIGNORRoberta Vinci​

Her ranking is still riding on her run to the final at Flushing Meadows last year. She’s probably not going to do it again. 

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