Given the rate of injuries and withdrawals at the top of the men’s game, this year’s US Open promises to be the most open Grand Slam in years. Last year’s finalists, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka will be absent- they will not play again in 2017, while former champion, Andy Murray has been struggling with a hip injury. Roger Federer has not been exempted- the great man pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters because of a back injury.
However, someone has still got to go on and claim that title. With just a few days before it all begins at Flushing Meadows, we look through the men’s field to pick out our top five contenders for the men’s title.
5. ANDY MURRAY
We do not think Murray will win the US Open, but the top of the men’s game is so bare at the moment that we could not find anyone else worthy enough to make up our top five! Murray has not played since Wimbledon, where he struggled with a hip injury in a quarter final loss to Sam Querrey. He subsequently pulled out of Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati. Murray’s progress will be dependent on how fit he is- If he is fully recovered, gets a decent draw, and gets through the early rounds, you just never know!
4. GRIGOR DIMITROV
If Grigor Dimitrov had not won the Cincinnati title, he would be nowhere near this list! But the talented Bulgarian might have played himself into form just in time for a charge at the final Grand Slam of the year. Dimitrov has never really lived up to his outstanding talents, but when he is confident and playing well, he is a tough man to beat. He was superb at the start of the year, where he reached the Australian Open semi-final, then went off the boil, but appears to have rediscovered his mojo. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Cincinnati champion.
3. RAFAEL NADAL
It’s harsh to have the new No. 1 down at third favourite, but Rafa has not done anything significant since winning Roland Garros! He lost to Gilles Muller in the third round at Wimbledon, fell to the Canadian rookie, Denis Shapovalov in the third round in Montreal, and was handily beaten by Nick Kyrgios in the quarter finals at Cincinnati. Nadal has not won a hard court title since January 2014. Besides, he has not been to the quarter finals of the US Open since winning his the second title in 2013. Of course, we know better than to totally write off the great Spaniard!
2. ALEXANDER ZVEREV
This is a risky one- putting Zverev ahead of Nadal. After all, the German is yet to reach a Grand Slam quarter final. However, we are absolutely sure that it is just a matter of time before the 20-year-old really begins to challenge for Grand Slam titles. He is just too talented, too confident; too good. Zverev went on a ten-match winning streak at the start of the hard court season, winning titles in Washington and Montreal to signal his readiness for Flushing Meadows. His streak was snapped by Frances Tiafoe in Cincinnati, but that could prove to be a blessing in disguise. With enough rest behind his back, he should be fresh for a big push at the Big Apple!
1. ROGER FEDERER
Oh well, what else can we say about this man? Federer has been absolutely superb this year, winning Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon; and Masters 1000 crowns at Indian Wells and Miami. The one big uncertainty around the great Swiss is whether his back will hold up in New York.
He had back issues in his loss to Zverev in the Montreal final, and subsequently pulled out of Cincinnati because of the same problem. Provided the injury is not significant, the 19-time Grand Slam champion looks the best bet to go all the way to claim a staggering 20th Grand Slam title in New York.
The US Open holds from 28 August to 10 September, 2017.