With the year’s final Grand Slam underway at Flushing Meadows in New York, Tennis Opinion Worldwide takes a look at the men’s field and finds it hard to see any other champion than one of the Big 3.
The Big 3, of course, refers to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Tennis Opinion Worldwide does not rate Andy Murray in the same bracket as the above-mentioned trio. Murray, with three majors to his name, is way behind Djokovic (13), Nadal (17) and all-time major leader Federer (20).
Murray is in any case finding his way back on the tour after hip surgery. He is currently ranked No 382 in the world and does not have a realistic chance to win in New York.
Murray clearly doesn’t move with the same comfort as before his injury and he still wants to employ a predominantly defensive-minded game plan. This playing style has seemingly caught up with the Scot and he’ll have to go out of his comfort zone if he is to again challenge the Big 3.
Nadal is the defending champion and is the slight favourite ahead of Djokovic. Nadal, who won the Toronto Masters, was also smart to skip the Cincinnati Masters. He will be fresh for his title defence in New York and also received an easier draw compared to Federer and Djokovic.
The most dangerous player in Nadal’s half of the draw is Argentine third seed Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal however has bossed their recent meetings and beat Del Potro at the French Open and Wimbledon this year. He also defeated Del Potro in the semi-finals in New York last year. Nadal’s heavy top spin forehand just appears to be too much for the big Argentine’s backhand to handle.
Djokovic will be buoyed after winning Wimbledon and beating Federer in the Cincinnati final. His performances in Toronto and Cincinnati were however still patchy at the best of times and it’s not a certainty that he’ll reach the final in New York.
Djokovic could meet Federer in the quarter-finals and the Swiss player will be out to gain revenge after losing the Cincinnati final.
Federer, however, has not played his best since winning the Australian Open at the beginning of the year. His loss in the Indian Wells final to De Potro, after squandering match points at 40-15 serving for the title, has clearly knocked his confidence.
Federer relinquishing a two-sets advantage to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter-finals was also a big shock and a further indication that he is not 100% confident.
Federer appears to struggle to break serve in recent times and it’s debatable whether he can make a deep run in New York – a tough third round match-up against dangerous Australian Nick Kyrgios could also prove a major stumbling block. But the Swiss has proved many wrong in the past and if he can replicate his form of 2017, he’ll be unstoppable.
Other dangerous potential party poopers in the draw are three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic and fourth-seed Alexander Zverev.
Zverev however has a terrible record in Grand Slams – his quarter-final run at the French Open this year is his best to date – and doubts remain over the 6ft6in player’s ability to last the distance in best of five sets.
The winner for the 2018 US Open should come from the above-mentioned names and Tennis Opinion Worldwide would consider any outside win as a major upset.