Last Word on Tennis Writers are fired up for the start of the 2018 US Open and ahead of Monday’s start they have reviewed the men’s and women’s draws to offer up their predictions.
Men’s Champion: Given his form astonishing form this season, I’d go with Rafael Nadal. He’s been pretty much unbeatable this year which I feel negates the fact that he’s never successfully defended a title outside clay. Djokovic is a worthy contender too, but US Open hasn’t exactly been his happy hunting ground.
Women’s Champion: Even though she hasn’t got the easiest of draws, I’ll pick Simona Halep for the title. She’s shown consistency this year, justified her top position. She has Darren Cahill by her side. And, most importantly, her she overcame her Grand Slam demons in Roland Garros this year when she won.
Men’s Dark Horse: There are many potential dark horses – there’s Milos Raonic, Nishikori, Isner, Kyrgios, Edmund and Tsitsipas to name a few. But, looking at the draw, it seems as though Raonic might have a fine run in the tournament. Never had much success here, but this time might be different.
Women’s Dark Horse: Kiki Bertens has been able to translate her clay performances on other surfaces as well, this year, having won Cincinnati beating Halep. She could be the dark horse this time! Elise Mertens could also carry on her fine run of form and go deep in the tournament.
Men’s Early Exit: The obvious answer will be Grigor Dimitrov who’s drawn Wawrinka again. Stan looks like he’s slowly getting his rhythm back, and Dimitrov’s form has been wayward to say the least. A repeat of Wimbledon 1st round between these two might be on the cards! Also, 4th seed Sascha Zverev’s has a manageable draw but you never know if he’ll underperform again.
Women’s Early Exit: In the women’s draw, there are always loads of players who exit early. This year, I think it’ll be Garbine Muguruza. US Open has been the worst major tournament for her and her current form doesn’t speak otherwise.
Men’s Qualifier to go furthest: Got to go with the kid in the draw! Depends on who he draws, but Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada has all the goods to upset a few big names in the draw, even if he’s 18. He’s immensely talented and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does take out a few names.
Women’s qualifier to go furthest: Nicole Gibbs, She’s played well in the qualifiers and her draw doesn’t look too difficult to upset a few players, I think. With a little luck, the draw could really open up for her, and she can make a strong run this season. Eugenie Bouchard can take down a few names as well. She’s slowly getting back her rhythm; the qualifiers were easy enough for her. But most importantly, she knows how to succeed at this level.
Men’s Champion: Rafael Nadal – Sure people question his hard-court record overall, but he has won his only tournament this year on the surface and has prepared well for this Slam. He comes into it fresh and it will take an amazing performance to beat him.
Women’s Champion: Madison Keys – The American underachiever comes in as a late substitute for Wozniacki given recent events. Keys has had her injury problems, withdrawing from San Jose earlier this month. That said, she put in a decent showing at Cincinnati and if she hits her stride early can have a decent shot at going one better this year.
Men’s Dark Horse: Borna Coric – All that is missing so far in this young gun’s careers is a decent Slam showing. He has shown more patience and maturity of late that could see him surprise many people with a deep run. Fellow NextGen star Tsitsipas is a potential 3rd round opponent. A victory over the Greek would galvanize Coric’s tournament.
Women’s Dark Horse – Aryna Sabalenka – The Belarussian has scored victories over Keys and Wozniacki this North American hard-court season. She had a great Connecticut tournament, it is just hoped that fatigue doesn’t set in, as Sabalenka is dangerous in this draw.
Men’s Early Exit: The eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov has a nightmare draw against Wawrinka. Given Wawrinka’s pedigree at Flushing Meadows, it looks like the Bulgarian could be an early casualty. The match is a repeat of the 1st round at Wimbledon and Stan never really looked in trouble. I’m afraid it’s an early departure for Dimitrov.
Women’s Early Exit: It pains me to say this, but I cannot see Petra Kvitova improving her Slam record this season. She looked a spent force against Bertens in Cincinnati and had to withdraw mid-match against Suarez-Navarro in Connecticut last week. Yafan Wang is a potential second round opponent who could send Kvitova out early. It’s a shame as the Czech has had a great season, the Slams just keep on coming at the wrong time.
Men’s Qualifier to get the furthest: 20 year old Nowegian Casper Ruud never lost a set in qualifying and looked to be increasing in stature as a player. He should beat Pella in the first round and will cause Kyle Edmund plenty of problems in the second if they meet. He could have a decent run.
Women’s Qualifier to get the furthest: Heather Watson – The Brit made the final of a strong ITF event in Canada recently losing to Doi in the final. Watson plays Makarova in the first round and if she plays to her current, revived form she has a great chance of getting through. Goerges is a potential second round opponent who seems to have gone off the boil lately. This is a good opportunity for Watson to have a decent Slam.
Men’s Champion: Rafael Nadal
Women’s Champion: Serena Williams
Men’s Semifinalists: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic Juan Martin Del Potro, and Marin Cilic
Women’s Semifinalists: Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and Caroline Wozniacki
Men’s Dark Horse: Stan Wawrinka
Women’s Dark Horse: Kiki Bertens
Men’s Qualifier to go the farthest: Felix Auger Aliassime
Women’s Qualifier to go the farthest: Eugenie Bouchard
Men’s Early Exit: Alexander Zverev
Women’s Early Exit: Garbine Muguruza