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Expert Picks: Predictions of the US Open's champions, sleepers and disappointments
World No. 1 Ash Barty has yet to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows, but her bandwagon is filling up fast.
Published Aug 26, 2021
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Men's Unseeded Sleeper
Joel Drucker—Frances Tiafoe: Has improved every part of his game and savors the chance to leave it all out there in New York.
Matt Fitzgerald—Jenson Brooksby: Having patiently waited two years for a return to Flushing Meadows, the 20-year-old comes with some street cred to his name this time around.
Cale Hammond—Sebastian Korda: With over two weeks off to heal his nagging back injury, Korda should enter the US Open at full strength. He is a player that nobody should want to play.
David Kane—Jenson Brooksby: With a runner-up finish in Newport and a Citi Open semifinal, the young American has been one of the stories of the summer and could find himself surging into the second week.
Ed McGrogan—Marton Fucsovics: The Hungarian blisters the ball and could throw a wrench into the Djokovic-Zverev quarter. Last year, he came from two sets to one down, with no crowd, to beat Dimitrov, so you know he can generate his own energy.
Jordaan Sanford—Nick Kyrgios: The Aussie has a tough opener against Roberto Bautista Agut, but if he manages to get past the Spaniard, anything is possible.
Women's Unseeded Sleeper
Joel Drucker—Sloane Stephens: First round is rematch of the 2017 US Open final she won versus Keys. Get past that and Stephens could indeed feel that New York flow she knows so well.
Matt Fitzgerald—Sara Sorribes Tormo: Though she drew Muchova and has 2020 semifinalist Brady in her section, both seeds enter with fitness question marks. And SST loves to dig in, perhaps more than anyone.
Cale Hammond—Camila Giorgi: With her newfound margin and confidence, Giorgi is playing the best tennis of her life and could make a serious dent on these ultra-quick courts.
David Kane—Camila Giorgi: The Montreal champion gets an undercooked Halep at her least favorite major tournament. Giorgi has been in supreme form all summer and looks ready for a deep run in New York.
Ed McGrogan—Jil Teichmann: She beat Osaka, Bencic and Karolina Pliskova in Cincinnati, and her southpaw strokes should do additional damage on a similar surface with comparable conditions.
Jordaan Sanford—Camila Giorgi: She’s fresh off the biggest tournament win of her career at the National Bank Open; that confidence alone should take her far in New York.
Joel Drucker—Denis Shapovalov: His Wimbledon semi was a great run, but no match wins since, and I'm not sure if this lively shot-maker will have the full confidence he needs to swing freely.
Matt Fitzgerald—Alexander Zverev: Sure, Sascha’s won 11 straight matches. He was also two points from winning here last year and didn’t get it done. Personally, I don’t see him returning to that position this fortnight.
Cale Hammond—Stefanos Tsitsipas: Until he proves otherwise, Stef's backhand return is a liability on fast courts.
David Kane—Novak Djokovic: Anything short of the title will be brutal for a world No. 1 chasing history and looking to right the ship after his Olympic defeats. Tough to see him rebounding with so little post-Wimbledon match play.
Ed McGrogan—Alexander Zverev: Regardless of the outcome, a newly released report on Zverev’s off-court conduct will trail him this entire tournament; beyond that, Querrey is a player no one relishes facing early at the Open.
Jordaan Sanford—Stefanos Tsitsipas: Although he’s reached back-to-back Masters 1000 semifinals, he’s never gone past the Round of 32 in New York. There seems to be something looming over the Greek at the last major of the year.
Joel Drucker—Bianca Andreescu: Has struggled all year to find the form and consistency that took her to the title two years ago.
Matt Fitzgerald—Bianca Andreescu: The No. 6 seed has greatly benefited from keeping her 2019 champion points up to this point. On a 1-4 stretch, it’s hard to fathom a sequel coming out in 2021.
Cale Hammond—Simona Halep: She could prove me wrong and win the tournament, but she’s simply not match-tested.
David Kane—Iga Swiatek: As young as she is, this major feels make-or-break for the Pole after her dominant clay form didn’t convert to a second Roland Garros title. Looking uneven since, could make another early exit in New York.
Ed McGrogan—Simona Halep: The No. 12 seed hasn’t played many matches this summer and drew a tough opener in Montreal champion Giorgi. She’s in a difficult section, period.
Jordaan Sanford—Garbine Muguruza: The No. 9 seed struggled to capture two consecutive wins during her North American swing. She will have to come out ready to grind against an opponent that always causes her trouble in Donna Vekic.
Joel Drucker—Novak Djokovic: Experience, fitness, playing style—it all adds up nicely as he seeks first men’s calendar-year Slam since 1969.
Matt Fitzgerald—Novak Djokovic: We haven’t seen Nole on a match court since Tokyo. But what we do know, is there’s no one better at taking impossible and turning into achievable.
Cale Hammond—Alexander Zverev: Normally Djokovic is a lock for any type of Grand Slam futures bet, but his troubled history in New York, combined with the ultimate pressure a tennis player can experience may prove too much for the prohibitive favorite.
David Kane—Daniil Medvedev: The Russian was an ill-placed camera away from sweeping Cincinnati in addition to his Canada title, and with two Grand Slam finals on his resumé, I’m inclined to think it’ll be third time lucky.
Ed McGrogan—Daniil Medvedev: The post-Big Three generation truly arrived in 2021, but it still has little to lose at a tournament where Djokovic faces colossal pressure. Call this a hunch, but a Medvedev win would be a fitting way to end the year.
Jordaan Sanford—Daniil Medvedev: The Russian will re-unite with the New York fans that fueled him into the 2019 final, he will undoubtedly relish the moment.
Joel Drucker—Ashleigh Barty: Put the pieces together smoothly on way to Cincy title. Versatile game, first-rate fitness and tranquil team a great set of assets amid all that makes the Open so challenging.
Matt Fitzgerald—Barbora Krejcíkova: She’s a rock, what more can be said? Any new occasion that comes her way, Krejcíkova tends to rise.
Cale Hammond—Ashleigh Barty: Heads and shoulder above the rest of her competition. Right now she is the undisputed best player in the world.
David Kane—Ashleigh Barty: The Aussie has been, by far, the best and most consistent player on tour in 2021. Provided she stays healthy through the fortnight, she should find herself on the brink of a Career Grand Slam.
Ed McGrogan—Aryna Sabalenka: Osaka is just 7-5 since winning the Australian Open, and Barty has never reached the quarters in New York. Sabalenka has always had the game to win a Slam, and this is a great opportunity to do it.
Jordaan Sanford—Ashleigh Barty: The mental aspect of tennis plays a major part of who triumphs and who fails. The Aussie has been zeroed in on the task at hand all year, especially at big events, and it's given her the upper hand more often than not.