Analyzing Novak Djokovic’s US Open Draw

Novak Djokovic 2019 US Open
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Novak Djokovic has been handed a good US Open draw, as he looks to win his 18th Grand Slam title. The Serb goes into the tournament unbeaten in 2020 and as the heavy favorite. He is on a 23-match winning streak after winning the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event (held at the US Open venue).

Djokovic is therefore looking to become the first male player to win a Grand Slam after winning a tour-level title the week prior. The last player to achieve the feat was Patrick Rafter, who won the 1998 US Open after claiming the Long Island title. The World #1 has made the final of the US Open eight times, taking the title on three occasions.

Here is a look at Djokovic’s likely path to the title:

Novak Djokovic’s Draw:

The Serbian opens his US Open campaign on Monday night against Damir Dzumhur, just two days after his Cincinnati final win against Milos Raonic. The Bosnian has a 4-15 record against top 10 opponents and will make Djokovic play a lot of balls. Even a tired Djokovic should, though, have far too much firepower for Dzumhur–against whom he holds a 2-0 record.

In the second round, the World #1 would face either Kyle Edmund or Alexander Bublik. Both are dangerous and possess big weapons, but Djokovic will likely be too strong and solid for either.

He would then likely meet either Jan-Lennard Struff (3-0 record) or Joao Sousa. The Serb demolished Struff in Cincinnati, and would surely record a similarly comfortable win in best-of-five. Djokovic has never lost a set to Sousa in six meetings (including twice at the US Open), in what is a terrible matchup for the Portuguese baseliner.

In the fourth round, Novak Djokovic would most probably face John Isner or Pablo Carreno Busta. The three-time champion leads the head-to-head against Isner 10-2 and won the pair’s only best-of-five meeting in five sets in the 2010 Davis Cup. It could be a test, but Djokovic should get past the now-35-year-old American in the long format. Djokovic would almost certainly beat Carreno Busta (3-0 record) routinely on these fast courts.

The Serbian would then most likely meet Denis Shapovalov or David Goffin. Shapovalov showed he could trouble Djokovic with his explosive game in a three-set ATP Cup loss in January, but trails the head-to-head 0-5. Djokovic would likely be too stable for the Canadian in best-of-five, in what would be Shapovalov’s first Slam quarterfinal. He has a 7-1 record against Goffin, and is just a bit better than the Belgian in all departments. Countryman Filip Krajinovic–who was impressive in Cincinnati–and the American Taylor Fritz are other possible opponents. It is hard to see either player beating Djokovic if they get that far.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas is Djokovic’s expected semifinal opponent. The Greek is a respectable 2-3 in the head-to-head series and looks the most likely to stop Djokovic before the final. This will be their first best-of-five clash, and it could be a close, quality contest if both men preserve enough energy en route. Diego Schwartzman is arguably the next in line to get through this quarter, but it is unlikely the Argentine would prevail against the World #1 on this surface. Alexander Zverev and Hubert Hurkacz are other potential, but slightly less probable, semifinal opponents.

Finally, Djokovic would probably face Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, or Raonic in the championship match. Medvedev is arguably the most likely, having reached the final last year, and having just performed well in Cincinnati. The Russian has won two of six meetings with Djokovic, but is yet to prevail over the five-set distance. It could be long and physical, as it likely would if Djokovic were to face Thiem. The Austrian’s heavy Cincinnati loss to Filip Krajinovic has cast doubt on his chances, after he had been much fancied. If Thiem can adapt to the courts and navigate a path through, he could push Djokovic all the way like in the Australian Open final in February (H2H is 7-4 to Djokovic).

If Raonic can hold up physically and continue his Cincinnati form, he could perhaps make the final. It would, though, be very difficult to see him overcoming his 0-11 record against Djokovic in the long format after his painful loss to the Serb in the Cincinnati final. Berrettini, Rublev and Bautista Agut all also have an outside chance of coming through.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic to beat Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Possible Draw Summary:

First round: Dzumhur

Second round: Edmund/Bublik

Third round: Struff/Sousa

Fourth round: Isner/Carreno Busta

Quarter-final: Shapovalov/Goffin/Fritz/Krajinovic

Semi-final: Tsitsipas/Zverev/Schwartzman/Hurkacz

Final: Thiem/Medvedev/Berrettini/Rublev/Raonic/Bautista Agut

Main Photo from Getty.