Will there be new men’s Grand Slam champion this year?

Covid-19 pandemic caused havoc in United States resulting in over 1,80,000 deaths till now.However organisers of US Open have dared to hold the major despite many hurdles and challenges posed by Covid-19.Since the outbreak of virus,the entire tennis schedule was halted.French Open was postponed till September while Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II.WTA resumed earlier this month but men’s tour had to wait only till this week for resumption when Western and Southern Open was completed on Saturday in New York.

Major threats

Several top 10 women players pulled out of US Open citing travel restrictions and virus threat.Roger Federer,Rafael Nadal,Stan Wawrinka,Nick Kyrgios also opted out among men.As a result,Dominic Thiem and last year’s runner up Daniil Medvedev were seeded second and third respectively in the draw behind world no.1 Novak Djokovic.

Draw

Novak Djokovic will open his campaign against Dzumur.16th seed local hope John Isner is likely to be hisĀ  tricky 4th round opponent.Dennis Shapovalov,4th seed Stefanos Tsistipas and 5th seed Alexander Zverev are all in his half of the draw looking for a major breakthrough in their careers.However Zverev has a tough opening round clash against former finalist Kevin Anderson.Other half also looks exciting as Dominic Thiem tries to capture his first Grand Slam after losing in the final of Australian Open in January.Russian Daniil Medvedev who last season was on song the entire US Open series,will be eager to go one better this time in New York.DominicThiem has a tough draw with potential third round against former champion Marin Cilic.Milos Raonic- finalist this week and one of the inform players this season-Roberto Bautista Agut are also in Thiem’s quarter of the draw.On the other hand,Daniil Medvedev has a smooth passage at least till the quarterfinals where he may face no.6 seed Matteo Berrettini who reached semis last year.

Predictions

Novak Djokovic claimed his 35th Masters title this week and is still unbeaten on tour this year.He said one of the reasons to play this Grand Slam is to come close to Federer’s tally of 20 major wins.Serbian stands at 17,two behind Rafael Nadal.However US Open has seen five different men’s champions in a past decade.Big three of Federer,Nadal and Djokovic have won incredible 56 out of past 67 majors.Will young brigade break the monopoly?Both Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt at a very young age shocked Pistol Pete in the final of 2000 and 2001 US Open respectively.So anything is possible.With most of the players coming into this major without much practice due to Covid-19,it will be interesting to see how players perform under new protocols.Moreover this will be the first Grand Slam without spectators.The sport might see new Grand Slam champion in the coming fortnight.

 

By Shailesh Padhye