SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's seeds at the 2015 U.S. Open. Read on for the dark horses, top first-round matchups and predictions, and find the women's seed report here.
1. Novak Djokovic
The top seed is going for his third major in 2015 and—as a show of respect—has to be considered the favorite. His sluggish play (and subsequent/consequent losses) in Montreal and Cincinnati are causes for concern. But he will benefit from a week off before the Open and a day off between matches during the Open. The best-of-five format benefits him. So does a fairly straightforward draw. Djokovic has only won the Open once—which we always find to be a surprising stat for such an accomplished hardcourt player—but he’s our pick. (Djokovic bonus read is here.)
2. Roger Federer
Lots of reason for optimism. And let’s be clear: he is more than a “sentimental favorite.” He has, as planned, put himself in position to win this, peaking at the precise time and finding a balance between coming in fresh and coming in with some hardcourt match play. His track record speaks for itself both longitudinally and over the last year. He has two wins over Djokovic this year, once as recently as last Sunday. Especially if he can minimize his exertion in Week One, Federer has a real shot at his first Slam since 2012.
3. Andy Murray
He draws Nick Kyrgios in a first rounder that is surely a night match. But again, here’s a former champ (also seemingly buoyed by marriage) with a real chance to win what would be his second U.S. Open title and third major. The good news: he recently snapped an eight-match losing streak to Djokovic. The less good news: he’s lost five straight to Federer. After the top three seeds, odds drop precipitously…
4. Kei Nishikori
A finalist last year, Nishikori has…well, what? Not really regressed in the manner of Dimitrov. Credit Nishikori for entrenching himself as a top five player. But he hasn’t reinforced himself as a threat to win a major. The game is there—especially if his body holds up. But he still needs to take that last step. Tough first match against Benoit Paire.
5. Stan Wawrinka
What a year it’s been for Wawrinka, both good and bad. He’s won a second major and has played some top shelf tennis. He has eaten some rough losses. And he’s been involved in more extra-tennis news than he’d prefer. His bona fides are not in question (again, like so many players, if his health doesn’t betray.) But you also wonder what impact all this scandal and distraction has exacted.
6. Tomas Berdych
The cut-and-paste. Capable of beating anyone; capable of losing to anyone. (Most recently, Alexandr Dolgopolov in Cincinnati.) The big flat hitting has served him well in the pat, especially on hardcourts. But has yet to prove himself capable of winning 21 sets at one event.
7. David Ferrer
You admire the persistence both in matches and in terms of his career. But his health has failed him (an elbow injury kept him out of Wimbledon) and there’s an unhappy sense that a wholly admirable career is winding down.
8. Rafael Nadal
Start with the good news: 1) He’s playing all four majors this year, something he has not done since 2011. 2) He was lucky to get this seeding, ensuring that he will not meet a higher ranked opponent until the quarters. 3) He could salvage a dismal season in New York, an event which he has won twice.
Bad news: 1) Still it’s jarring to see him seeded this low. 2) He starts of against Borna Coric, a future top player. 3) Even assuming he survives the early rounds, there’s little indication that he’s ready to reverse this slide, especially when Djokovic looms in the quarters. Win or lose, this we predict with certainty: you will see plenty of Nadal in his underwear.
9. Marin Cilic
The 2014 U.S. Open winner has hardly built on his success. Injuries have slowed his game and eroded his self-belief.
10. Milos Raonic
The hard-serving Canadian is always dangerous but a slow recovery from May foot surgery has impeded his progress.
11. Gilles Simon
Never a threat to win, always a player to watch.
12. Richard Gasquet
Another French player worth watching. At 29, he is having perhaps the best year of his career. Fresh from the Wimbledon semis, he is a threat to reach week two—if he wants to. (Should he survive Thanasi Kokkinakis in round one.)
13. John Isner
The serve always makes him dangerous. (And, though they're nearby in the draw, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Isner’s ritual U.S. Open conqueror, is unlikely to beat him.) But Isner played a lot of tennis this summer and remains susceptible to playing too much tennis in the early rounds. Plus, Federer is his scheduled Round of 16 foe.
14. David Goffin
Here’s a rising stock to place in your portfolio. Wins a lot of matches. Now he needs to replicate his success at a major.
15. Kevin Anderson
Always a good bet to live up to his seeding. Now he needs to get it done against the guys ranked ahead of him.
16. Gael Monfils
Say this: It’s never boring.
Last chance to salvage a year of regress.
An strong year and fun-to-watch player who is in his 34th year.
Coming off a standout French Open and a forgettable Wimbledon.
Now in the top 20. And the elevator is still going up.
At age 36, still a threat. As long as his right arm holds up.
He’s lost his title as the Bad Boy of Aussie tennis. But he’s settled into becoming a fine player.
Big serve + big forehand + big confidence. A mid-tournament date with Wawrinka intrigues.
Dark Horse Stable
Borna Coric: The ascent continues for the best teenager in the world.
Alexandr Dolgopolov: Erratic player but talent is undeniable. Coming off a semifinal showing in Cincinnati.
Benoit Paire: Playing best ball in years—though he drew Nishikori off the bat.
Thanasi Kokkanakis: The young Aussie is ice to Kyrgios’ fire.
Nick Kyrgios: It’s been an eventful summer. Perhaps you’ve heard.
Hyeon Chung: Lots of curiosity over the Korean teenager.
First round match to watch
Murray vs. Kyrgios: Who writes this stuff, anyway?
Fabio Fognini vs. Steve Johnson: Rough first match for both.
Paire vs. Nishikori: Remember this?
Gasquet vs. Kokkinakis: No easing into this event for either.
Viktor Troicki v. Frances Tiafoe: Good test for Tiafoe, who's highly unlikely to win but can see where and how he stacks up.
First Round Upset Special
I don’t QUITE see it happening, but Coric d. Nadal wouldn’t be an incapacitating surprise.
The Bryans Bros, Bob and Mike. A rough year for the defending champs, who, again, come to the U.S. Open with ambitions of salvaging their season.
Djokovic d. Total surpise (Dolgopolov? Tsonga?)
Federer d. Murray
Djokovic d. Federer