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CONFESSIONAL CART: Frances Tiafoe faces his biggest fears

Men's Sleeper

Joel Drucker—Brandon Nakashima: Rock-solid game and strong work ethic have taken him up the ranks. Extended Kyrgios to five sets at Wimbledon, and seems set for a reasonable go in New York.

Matt Fitzgerald—Jack Draper: Ranked No. 269 this time last year, now at No. 55. His stock will only continue rising.

David Kane—Aslan Karatsev: Beware the big-hitting former AO semifinalist, who barely missed out on a seed, looming as Nadal’s second-round opponent.

Stephanie Livaudais—Ben Shelton: The hottest name in American tennis, Shelton has impressed since making his ATP debut less than a month ago in Atlanta. After two big wins in Cincy—including over Casper Ruud—he’s ready for more impact in New York.

Ed McGrogan—Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: Perhaps the best unseeded player in the draw, Foki can get on a roll without warning. Already this year, he's beaten Djokovic in a Masters, and Hurkacz at a Slam. Watch out, Tsitsipas.

Steve Tignor—Tommy Paul: The 29th-seeded American has been has been using his athleticism for good this summer, and he might have a winnable third-rounder against Casper Ruud.

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Women's Sleeper

Joel Drucker—Bianca Andreescu: Past champion has come through some challenging moments and is now hopefully ready to bring her wide range of skills to the table.

Matt Fitzgerald—Linda Noskova: Emma in 2021, Linda in 2022. Why not?

David Kane—Kaia Kanepi: In a section with Venus Williams, no one out-floats the Estonian, who started the hard-court summer with a runner-up finish in Washington, D.C.

Stephanie Livaudais—Naomi Osaka: Consistency and momentum are irrelevant when it comes to this—unseeded—star. The last time Osaka won back-to-back matches, she reached the Miami final. The last time she went 0-2 in Toronto and Cincy, she won the 2018 US Open. Embrace the chaos.

Ed McGrogan—Shelby Rogers: A big-match competitor with heavy artillery is often rewarded at the US Open—as Rogers was last year in her win over top-ranked Ash Barty. The American is a No. 31 seed no one will want to face.

Steve Tignor—Karolina Pliskova: You can’t count on Pliskova to win when she’s a high seed. But with her type of ball-striking talent, you can’t count her out as a No. 26, either.

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If Shelby Rogers can beat Ash Barty at the US Open, everyone should be on alert.

If Shelby Rogers can beat Ash Barty at the US Open, everyone should be on alert.

Men's Disappointment

Joel Drucker—Grigor Dimitrov: The dedication is strong and the skills can soar, but mix of injuries and minimal results make it hard to see Dimitrov progressing too far at the year’s last major.

Matt Fitzgerald—Daniil Medvedev: When you’re reigning champ and world No. 1, any result besides a title defense will feel substandard. Last year, there was a small group of clear favorites to go all the way. Not the case in 2022.

David Kane—Carlos Alcaraz: It’s mean to call someone so young a disappointment, but the talented teen has lacked that extra oomph since falling in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Stephanie Livaudais—Casper Ruud: After his Miami final appearance, there was expectation for the Norwegian to keep building on his hard-court success. With a Montreal semifinal and early exit in Cincy, it’s been hit or miss so far.

Ed McGrogan—Felix Auger-Aliassime: Solid but unspectacular isn't going to cut it at the Open, and FAA is just 21-16 from Indian Wells on. His second-rounder, against Ruusuvuori or Draper, could be an upset waiting to happen.

Steve Tignor—Nick Kyrgios: Has the Summer of Nick begun to wane? Kyrgios didn’t look as sharp in Cincy, and playing his friend Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round in New York could be tricky.

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Carlos Alcaraz has inspired a wide range of opinions from our experts.

Carlos Alcaraz has inspired a wide range of opinions from our experts.

Women's Disappointment

Joel Drucker—Anett Kontaveit: Yet again is seeded No. 2 at a major. But has only been to a Slam quarterfinal once, and hasn’t generated too many results this summer.

Matt Fitzgerald—Iga Swiatek: Facing a potential early Cincinnati rematch with Stephens, and a section where Ostapenko, Anisimova or Zheng are possible fourth-round opponents (Kenin and Putintseva are floating, too) could prove troublesome.

David Kane—The Top 4 Seeds: Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa have telegraphed early exits by complaining about the ball density, while Anett Kontaveit and Maria Sakkari have regularly looked overmatched at majors. Odds are low that any make the semifinals.

Stephanie Livaudais—Emma Raducanu: To say it’s been a tough sophomore season for Raducanu would be an understatement. And while her statement wins over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are a step in the right direction, last year’s world-beating form still looks far off.

Ed McGrogan—Emma Raducanu: The Brit has played down the pressure she'll inevitably face as defending champion, but the spotlight will remain, and drawing 37th-ranked, seen-in-all veteran Alize Cornet in the first round is brutal luck.

Steve Tignor—Maria Sakkari: She hasn’t made it past the third round since June, and she plays Tatjana Maria, who beat her at Wimbledon, in her opening match.

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Raducanu's 2022 campaign has seen more struggle than success, but she did just rout Serena Williams in Cincinnati, her final US Open tune-up.

Raducanu's 2022 campaign has seen more struggle than success, but she did just rout Serena Williams in Cincinnati, her final US Open tune-up.

Men's Champion

Joel Drucker—Taylor Fritz: Convention favors defending champ Medvedev. But let’s roll the dice a bit. Fritz has played excellent tennis all year long and is in a fine spot for a major breakthrough.

Matt Fitzgerald—Rafael Nadal: Fritz has a truly great shot at breaking out here, but it’s impossible to ignore Nadal’s equally favorable draw. On paper, it’s as manageable as they come for the four-time winner.

David Kane—Cameron Norrie: The Wimbledon semifinalist has reached six hard-court finals in the last year, won the BNP Paribas Open, and could come out of his quarter over a rusty Rafa as a title contender.

Stephanie Livaudais—Carlos Alcaraz: The 19-year-old has won two Masters 1000 events this year—including on hard courts in Miami—and was in two more finals just last month. Despite recent wobbles, there’s nothing to suggest he couldn’t regain that form at the place where he reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Ed McGrogan—Carlos Alcaraz: He hasn't been lights-out, like he was in the first half of this season, but that could help lessen expectations. Still, Alcaraz has the game and mentality to win a major now. A third-rounder against Coric or Brooksby would be fun either way.

Steve Tignor—Rafael Nadal: He’s recovering from injury and looked rusty in Cincy. But do you trust anyone else in the draw to win a major title as much as you trust him?

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Fritz made good on his potential at his hometown tournament in Indian Wells this spring. That was a huge title, but could there be even bigger things coming this summer?

Fritz made good on his potential at his hometown tournament in Indian Wells this spring. That was a huge title, but could there be even bigger things coming this summer?

Women's Champion

Joel Drucker—Iga Swiatek: Has stumbled a few times this summer, but recall how well Swiatek played at big hard-court tournaments earlier in the year—and how much firepower she has off all sides.

Matt Fitzgerald—Naomi Osaka: It’s an even year at the US Open, so…

David Kane—Simona Halep: In a chaotic field and buoyed by a Toronto title, the former No. 1 may never have a better shot at this leg of the Career Slam.

Stephanie Livaudais—Jessica Pegula: One of the most consistent players of the summer, Pegula arrives at her home Slam ranked inside the Top 10 for the first time. The American No. 1 will be going for her third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year in New York, but she’s got the momentum to go all the way.

Ed McGrogan—Coco Gauff: The Wimbledon runner-up will surely go one step further at a Slam during her career, and maybe multiple times. In Serena's last tournament, Gauff's first major victory would be a storybook passing-the-torch moment.

Steve Tignor—Caroline Garcia: How do you pick a champion from a field where 25 players seem to have an equal chance at winning? I’ll go with the one who’s in the best form coming in.