The US Open draw has been announced and it makes for very interesting reading. It could be the most open major tennis tournament, on both the men and women’s side, in recent memory.
Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is notably absent from the men’s draw, with the U.S. government not changing its stance on not allowing those who are unvaccinated into the country. The 21-time Grand Slam champion has been unable to compete in half of the Majors this year, leaving Rafael Nadal with an opportunity to extend his Grand Slam title record.
Nadal kicks off his campaign in New York against Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata, who will be competing in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. On paper this should be a walk in the park for Nadal, but the 21-year-old Aussie will be no doubt looking to relish this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity against a sporting great.
This is the first time Nadal will be competing in the US Open since he won the title back in 2019. There will in-fact be four players “defending” their title, as Nadal (2019), Dominic Thiem (2020), Daniil Medvedev (2021) and Emma Raducanu (2021) will all be competing in the US Open for the first time since winning it.
The Spaniard will certainly be the favorite to make the final from his half but injury could halt his success, as it did at Wimbledon when he was forced to pull out of his semifinal against Nick Kyrgios with an abdominal tear.
The 2021 champion and World #1 has not reached the heights of last year so far, with his loss in the Australian Open final seemingly having a lasting effect. The 26-year-old does tend to come to life towards the end of the season, and he will certainly be hoping that this year will be no different.
Medvedev will be very pleased with his draw as he starts his title defence against the American Stefan Kozlov, who is currently on an eight match losing streak.
The whole sporting world was stunned last year, when 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu won ten consecutive matches, without dropping a set, to win the US Open. Since then she has become a global star, both on and off the court.
As expected 2022 has been a much more challenging season for the Brit, in her first full year on tour. There has been some positive signs recently, especially in Cincinnati where she beat both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, to the loss of only six games.
The world #11 will have to find some of that form again, as she has a first round encounter with the gutsy Alize Cornet. The Frenchwoman is known for causing upsets at Grand Slams, evident at Wimbledon when she ended the 37-match winning streak of Iga Swiatek.
Women’s tennis has been dominated by Iga Swiatek this year. She has won six titles, including a Major, and had a record breaking 37-match winning streak. However, with such a meteoric rise there has to be a downfall and that is seemingly starting to happen for the world #1.
The Pole has won only four of her last eight matches, with her opponents starting to figure out her weaknesses – with the second serve certainly being one of those. It is difficult to rule Swiatek out though, as she could hit anyone in the draw off the court on her day.
Her opening round clash with Jasmine Paolini should not cause any troubles, but stranger things have happened.
Other eye-catching Round 1 Matches:
Nick Kyrgios vs Thanasi Kokkinakis (Doubles partners)
Pablo Carreno-Busta vs Dominic Thiem
Sebastian Baez vs Carlos Alcaraz
Serena Williams vs Danka Kovinic (Could be Serena’s last ever match)
Naomi Osaka vs Danielle Collins
Venus Williams vs Alison Van Uytvanck
Main Photo from Getty.