- Get prepared for the U.S. Open with Jon Wertheim's seed reports, upset specials, predictions and much more.
With the release of the draw on Thursday, the only thing left is... the actual tennis.
The 2019 U.S. Open begins on Monday in New York. Here are your seed reports:
1. Novak Djokovic (SRB): The defending champ also won the previous Major… and 33 of the 34 singles matches he’s played at Majors. And hard courts make for his best surface. On those grounds, how do you pick against him? Obsessed as we are with the Big Three and the GOAT, this point is *still* underplayed: tennis’ Salieri is on pace to become its Mozart.
2. Rafael Nadal (ESP): In his lone event since Wimbledon, he looked stellar, winning still another Masters1000 in Montreal. Nadal can excel on hardcourts—we’ve known this for more than a decade. The question: can his body hold up on the surface for seven rounds? If so, we eagerly await the final. (First rounder against Millman, who has a recent history against two seeds at the Open.)
3. Roger Federer (SUI): Even for a player who’s resistance to dwell on defeat—or for that matter, celebrate success—has been a career virtue, Federer HAS to have accumulated some scar tissue from the Wimbledon heartbreak. The one event he has played since provided little reassurance. Still, it’s Federer at a Major. Look for him deep in Week Two. With the crowd behind him.
4. Dominic Thiem (AUT): After (predictable) success on clay and (predictable) failure on grass, World Thiem Tennis can now define his season. Didn’t dazzle in Montreal or Cincy but look at his draw and Week Two seems likely. The slower the hard courts play, the better for him.
5. Daniil Medvedev (RUS): The breakout star of the hardcourt summer, winning Cincy and reaching the final in Montreal and Washington. The 6' 6" Russian plays Djokovician tennis—an offense-defense game works well on any surface. Still looking to get higher than the timber-lines at a Major. Lots of buzz and momentum—you just wonder if he’s played too much August tennis?
6. Alexander Zverev (GER): A distressed asset, as they say in the Arthur Ashe Stadium suites. AZ turned in such a strong close to 2018. And since then, it’s been a more-or-less unbroken string of disappointments. He can salvage his season in New York. He has the game. The question is, right now, does he have the spirit?
7. Kei Nishikori (JPN): While too many of his early matches last longer than Avengers movies, credit him for wining them. A fine player (and former USO finalist) who just lacks the weaponry—and physical durability—to compete for the biggest trophies.
8. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE): A Greek bearing gifts. A first round exit at Wimbledon was a disappointment. So were losses—not bad losses, but losses nonetheless— on North America hard courts. Then again, at the previous hard court Major he took out Federer en route to the finals. Brutal first rounder against Rublev.
9. Karen Khachanov (RUS): Been an up-and-down year for the ascendant Russian. Suffered through a woeful losing streak in the spring. Now, looks like a future star. Steady, mature and that back is pure Safin. One of his signature matches came last year when he pushed Nadal to five sets in New York.
—Let’s pause here—a space Juan Martin del Potro ought to inhabit—and wish him well. A gold-medal guy who can’t catch a break from the Tennis Fates.
10. Roberto Baustista Agut (ESP): Wimbledon semifinalist now looks to back it up on hard courts. One of those players who beats the players he should and loses to the ones above him. Especially when you’re hovering around No. 10 in the rankings, that’s a fine way to make a living.
11. Fabio Fognini (ITA): Not always the easiest candidate to support. His words and actions sometimes violate the social compact. But the talent is undeniable and so are the chops on hard courts. (His U.S. Open cv. includes a win over Nadal.)
12. Borna Coric (CRO): Solid Croatian player still seeking a major Major breakthrough. Lots to like about his game and improved stamina, but sometimes struggles to close matches.
13. Gael Monfils (FRA): A quietly fine season and still the lovable class clown of tennis. It’s like Kyrgios with a thoroughly endearing personality. Catch this thoroughly unique act while you can. Dude turns 33 (!) during Week One.
14. John Isner (USA): It’s been a frustrating season disrupted by injury for the hard-serving college tennis veteran. Isner, though, makes his bones on the U.S. hard courts and between his serve and professionalism, he’s usually good for a middle weekend showing in NYC.
15. David Goffin (BEL): Has taken the mantle from Ferrer as an admirable competitor to maxes out his assets. He moves well, he competes well, and generally comports himself well. He just doesn’t have the offense to win big.
16. Kevin Anderson (RSA): The Isner cut and paste: “It’s been a disappointing, injury-married year for the hard-serving South African. He started the season the season with a title but has won fewer than 10 matches since. Still, he knows how to win and was a finalist just two years ago.
18. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): In FA-Aterms we have hit some turbulence. Not a terribly strong summer. But the talent is undeniable and so is the poise. Starts, again, against his pal.
21. Milos Raonic (CAN): Is it possible he is the forgotten Canadian right now? Though durability is always an issue, he is a former top five player who knows how to dial in a big serve and knows how to win matches.
22. Marin Cilic (CRO): Another distressed asset. Former winner (has it really been five years?) is in the middle of a miserable year. The game and the hardcourt record suggest hope. But there’s a hard-to-shake sense this stock has peaked.
23. Stan Wawrinka (SUI): The other Swiss Mister. The 2016 champ—the last Major winner outside the Big Three— is coming off a strong French Open and played himself back into contention. Has become a fan favorite and it’s not solely because of his backhand.
26. Taylor Fritz (USA): Good for Fritz for cracking the top 30 —and doing so with consistency and professionalism, rather than a lightning-in-a-bottle week. Now for the next step: Week Two of a Slam.
28. Nick Kyrgios (AUS): The man who launched a thousands hot takes (and dimestore evaluations.) Is it time for our twisty fable to take a redemptive turn—which would help underwrite those fines? Starts against the anti-Kyrgios, Stevie Johnson.
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): The fan base might be getting impatient for the next step in his ascent, as is playing sub. 500 ball for the year. But worth bearing in mind: he is 20.
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): Man, could he use a strong tournament.
Reilly Opelka (USA): More than a big server. Such a solid season; and he is defending virtually nothing between now and year’s end.
Richard Gasquet (FRA): Still some gas(quet) in the tank. French veteran coming off a strong Cincy.
Frances Tiafoe (USA): The salon is getting antsy but note the quarterfinal showing at the last hardcourt Major.
FIRST-ROUND MATCHES TO WATCH
Felix v. Denis: They the north (again)
Tipsarevic v. Kudla: A potential final match for Serb
Opelka d. Fognini: Brutal for both
Rublev v. Tsitsipas: See above.
Kyrgios v. Stevie Johnson (USA): Contrast Special
Opelka d. Fognini
(Can’t quite pull the trigger on Rublev to beat Tstisipas)
Doubles winner: We keep calling the Bryan Bros, Bob and Mike, for the sake of sentimentality.
Semis: Djokovic d. Federer, Nadal d. Kyrgios
Finals: Nadal d. Djokovic
1. Naomi Osaka (JPN): Such a strange year for the No.1. Osaka wins Australia and it looks like the “Serena vacuum” has been filled. And then… she has yet to win a title since. Now she comes to NY ranked No.1 but hardly playing like it. Will she be buoyed by the good vibes; or pressured by the massive download of points to defend? Say this: she sure can’t complain about her draw.
2. Ashleigh Barty (AUS): If she can win Majors on clay, why not on hardcourt? Cooled off a bit since June —how could she not?—but a lot to like here, including an expansive skill set and a sense of self.
3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): Again: is the “Best Player Never to Have Won A Slam” —tennis’ great topspin backhanded compliment—persists. So many disappointing results at Majors and elsewhere—an utter capitulation at 4-4 in the third against Andreescu in Toronto is the latest—but we can’t quit that serve and power.
4. Simona Halep (ROU): A solid pick to pick up another Major, backing up her Wimbledon title. Didn’t dazzle on the North American hard courts, but she projects a sense of organization and maturity.
5. Elina Svitolina (UKR): A fairly quiet season—but still an impressive ranking— for a very talented player. Needs the good-to-great elevation.
6. Petra Kvitova (CZE): As she’s gotten older, she’s coped better with New York. The heat, the chaos, the crowd. In full health and spirit, she is as good a candidate to win as anyone. Not a lot of match play of late—good to see her take a wild card into the Bronx—but came within a few points of winning previous hardcourt Major.
7. Kiki Bertens (NED): Strange times since she left clay. In her last two events, she lost to a 19-year-old (6-4 in the third) and a 39-year-old (7-6 in the third).
8. Serena Williams (USA): The betting favorite—which tells you plenty. The draw’s big question mark. A lot has to go right for her win to win the Major she first took—get this—in 1999. But a lot CAN go right. A big question among many: how will she deal with the (potentially triggering) memories of her last match on Arthur Ashe?
9. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR): Like the Mac pinwheel, it’s been a year of buffering (Week One notwithstanding). Has shown some recent signs of busting her slump, including a run to the San Jose final and playing well in Cincy. Big game, big hardcourt skills, but what’s her level of self-belief. Brutal first rounder against countrywoman Azarenka.
10. Madison Keys (USA): Always dangerous. But coming off the biggest title of her career—a romp through the Cincinnati draw—she’s on the short list of favorites. Is the Major when all her gifts coalesce?
11. Sloane Stephens (USA): Been a fairly quiet season for the 2017 champ. Save life changes and personnel changes. So much to like here—the ballstriking, the movement, the capacity anyway for competitive resolve. Now that she’s back with Kamau Murray, is she ready to salvage her season?
12. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT): Fun veteran player to watch who sometimes get too cute for her own good. Has had past success in New York.
13. Belinda Bencic (SUI): Such a solid and complete player; but such an injury-prone player as well. Can beat anyone on a given day. Can also pull up compromised.
14. Angelique Kerber (GER): Watch out! Vehicle stopped on shoulder ahead! Your 2016 U.S. Open champ is 0-2 since Wimbledon and does not appear to be 100 percent physically.
15. Bianca Andreescu (CAN): Tennis’ teenage comet started the year outside the top 150 is now No. 14. In the last two tournament she’s played start to finish, she has won Indian Well and Toronto. She’s 7-0 against top 10 players and doesn’t exactly want for confidence. Question is really whether her body can hold up. If so, she can win.
16.Jo Konta (UK): A mystifying player. Sometimes she reaches the second week of Majors. Sometimes she forgets who she is.
17. Marketa Vondrousova (CZE): The best player on clay has dropped off significantly since then. Watch her pay if you can. Strong counterprogramming to the (shabby) complaint that there’s much monotonous, homogenous ball bashing in tennis.
18. Qiang Wang (CHN): The best player you’ve perhaps never seen play.
19. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): A home Slam of sorts and Wozniacki’s past record at the event—including multiple finals—speaks for itself. But it’s been a rough year physically, and her default mode of defense doesn’t always serve her well.
20. Sonya Kenin (USA): Welcome to the top 20. In the model of David Ferrer. Here is an undersized player who gives no quarter, relishes the battle and gets everything she can from her game. Wins by out-competing the opponent, which is a gift that lasts.
23. Donna Vekic (AUS): A big slugger who is learning how to hit. A few close matches go her way and she is a top 16 seed.
24. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP): Whoa, is that a big number alongside the name of the 2017 WB champ. What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis.
30. Maria Sakkari (GRE): A lot to like here, not least her competitive will.
32. Dayana Yastremska (UKR): Hidden in a bit in the teenage brigade, but a lot of game here.
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE): Watch her play. Trust us.
Venus Williams (USA): Crowding age 40—and coming in with zero momentum—but you win seven Slams, you merit mention.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): All 2x-Major champs get mention, (even if they’re not coming off reaching a final)…speaking of…
Vika Azarenka (BEL): A two-time Grand Slam champ playing her way back. Either her brutal draws continue; or she had a big opportunity in round one against Sabalenka.
Maria Sharapova (RUS): Has become tennis’ forgotten woman. Ranked 87 and you wonder how long she can keep going at this rate. Say this: if somehow she wins her first match, her draw opens.
Coco Gauff (USA): Can she build on Wimbledon breakthrough?
Alison Riske (USA): Can she build on her Wimbledon breakthrough?
Jessie Pegula (USA): Washington D.C. winner
Iga Swiatek (POL): Only 18 and inside the top 50. (Bonus points for reading books.)
FIRST-ROUND MATCHES TO WATCH
Serena v. Sharapova is an all-timer.
Azarenka v. Sabalenka: The Battle of Belarus
Riske v. Muguruza: Challenging start for both players
Azarenka d. Sabalenka
Doubles winner: Mladenovic and Timea Babos:
Semis: Total surprise (Azarenka? Bencic?) vs. Halep, Keys d. Serena
Finals: Keys d. Halep