A younger generation of players is knocking on the door of men’s tennis’ gracefully aging superstars: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Several young top seeds and veteran dark horses could make noise at the 2019 U.S. Open over the next two weeks.
Medvedev’s rising stock
Fresh off the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati, No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev has been the hottest name on the ATP tour this summer. After reaching the finals in three consecutive hardcourt tournaments, the 23-year-old Russian is ranked in the top five for the first time in his career.
Two questions circle Medvedev: Will he run out of gas after a physically-demanding summer, and is he mentally ready to take the next step and compete for a Grand Slam title? A deep run on the sport’s grandest stages has thus far eluded Medvedev; his best major result was a fourth-round appearance in Australia earlier this year.
Consistency is key
It was in Melbourne that No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas showed flashes of his immense potential. The 21-year-old from Greece played fearless tennis, dispatching both Federer and Roberto Bautista-Agut in convincing fashion, on a run to his first Grand Slam semifinal. However, Tsitsipas has failed to find consistent results this summer. He has exited after his first match in three of his past four tournaments, all against lower-ranked players.
It’s been an on-brand summer for No. 28 seed Nick Kyrgios, whose volatile temperament continues to mar his obvious ability when the ball is in play. The gifted Aussie won the Citi Open title in Washington, D.C., and afterward talked about the strides he’d made in his career. He followed it up in Cincinnati by causing an uproar during his second-round loss to Karen Khachanov. Kyrgios repeatedly berated chair umpire Fergus Murphy with expletives and spit in his direction after the match. It culminated in a $113,000 fine, the largest issued by the ATP since 1990. Kyrgios will be under an intense microscope in New York, where he’s yet to reach the fourth round.
The Grand Slam title drought for the American men is quickly approaching two decades. Can anyone break through to become the first men’s singles champion since Andy Roddick triumphed in the 2003 U.S. Open? It’s highly unlikely, though look for reliable veterans in John Isner and Sam Querrey to make it to the second week.
The wild card pick is 21-year-old Francis Tiafoe. The highly-touted Maryland native showed signs that his game is maturing to match his boundless athleticism during an unexpected run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, in which he defeated three top-35 opponents. Few players have as much fun interacting with the New York crowd as Tiafoe. With his power game and energy, it’s only a matter of time before Tiafoe puts on a show fit for tennis’ largest stage.