The 2022 US Open begins on Monday in what is seemingly one of the more wide-open ATP Grand Slam draws in recent memory. Three-time champion Novak Djokovic will not be at the event due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. Tops seeds such as Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal, and Carlos Alcaraz are among the betting favorites, but none of them had an immensely strong North American hard court season.
The lack of an overwhelming favorite at this year’s US Open leaves the door open for some of the lower-seeded players such as Americans Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, and Maxime Cressy. It is the first time at least four American men have been seeded at the US Open since 2016. With that said, can any of these men make a deep run in New York? The last American man to reach at least the quarterfinals of the US Open was John Isner back in 2018.
Let’s take a look at the path for Fritz, Tiafoe, Paul, and Cressy over the next two weeks in Flushing.
Seeded American Men at the US Open
(10) Taylor Fritz
Round 1: vs Brandon Holt (Q)
24-year-old Taylor Fritz is the only American with a real chance to win the 2022 US Open. The #10 overall seed has had a solid 2022 season, especially in the other three Slams. Fritz reached the second week earlier this year in Melbourne, his first second-week appearance in his 22nd Slam appearance. He then made it all the way to the quarterfinals in London before losing to Rafael Nadal in a five-set battle.
Fritz holds a 35-14 record this season, including a 22-8 mark in hard courts. He favors hard courts as his favorite surface and can beat anyone in the world on the right day.
Fritz starts his 2022 US Open campaign against qualifier Brandon Holt. Son of former world #1 Tracy Austin, Holt is into the first Slam main draw of his career. The USC graduate took the full three sets to win all three of his qualifying matches. He is a great early story in Flushing, but Fritz should comfortably advance by his compatriot. A second-round matchup against the winner of Aljaz Bedene and Pedro Cachin will also not likely cause the top-seeded American trouble.
Round three is when it could get tricky for Fritz who could potentially face off against #21 seed Botic Van De Zandschulp or Stan Wawrinka. With that said, the American will be the favorite in either matchup and should be able to find his way through. If all holds chalk, this would set up a round four matchup with Casper Ruud. The #5 seed is just 12-6 on hard courts this season and may struggle to find a way to puncture through the game of the American.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top seed in his quarter of the draw while a meeting with the #1 seed Daniil Medvedev is a possible semifinal matchup.
Fritz was 6-3 in three US Open lead-up events. He is playing with confidence and seemed to have a good week of preparation with coach Mike Russell. I expect him to have a strong showing at the 2022 US Open.
Floor: Round 3
(22) Frances Tiafoe
Round 1: vs Marcos Giron
24-year-old Frances Tiafoe is seeded at the US Open for the first time in his young career. The Maryland native has found comfort in Flushing, reaching the fourth round of the last two US Opens. Tiafoe will look for another strong showing in New York after what has been an inconsistent 2022 season.
Tiafoe holds a 21-18 overall record this season, including a 10-9 record on hard courts. He finished four US Open lead-up events with a 6-4 record with wins over Matteo Berrettini and Botic Van De Zandschulp. Tiafoe has the ability to play with the best in the world, but he also has proven to fall flat against some inferior opponents.
He squares off with compatriot Marcos Giron in round one. The two have split their only two previous meetings, with Tiafoe getting the best of Giron 6-4 6-4 earlier this year in Houston. Giron has not been in the strongest form this season. He may push Tiafoe to a fourth set, but I would be very surprised to see the #22 seed lose this match.
If he gets past Giron, an easier match against the winner of Jason Kluber and Mikael Ymer awaits. The first-seeded opponent Tiafoe is likely to run into is Diego Schwartzman in round three. The Argentine leads their career head-to-head 2-1 but all three matches have been very close. If he were to get by Schwartzman, Rafael Nadal would likely be waiting in round four.
Tiafoe is a player that feeds off of crowd energy. There is no place he will get more love than on these courts in Flushing, proven by his victory over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open. A somewhat favorable draw gives Tiafoe a great chance to reach the second week, but I do not see a higher ceiling than another fourth-round finish for the 24-year-old.
Floor: Round 1
Ceiling: Round 4
Prediction: Round 4
(29) Tommy Paul
Round 1: vs Bernabe Zapata Miralles
Tommy Paul has been one of the most impressive Americans on tour this season. He is seeded at the US Open for the first time in his young career. This will be Paul’s fifth main draw appearance at the US Open, though, he is still searching for his first victory.
Paul holds a 29-21 record this season with a 20-11 mark on hard courts. He has wins over the likes of Alexander Zverev, Carlos Alcaraz, Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, and Denis Shapovalov. Paul has proven he can hang with the world’s best.
I believe Paul will break his losing streak at the US Open in Round 1 against Bernabe Zapata Miralles. The Spaniard spends the majority of his time on the clay and is just 3-4 on hard courts this season. A round two matchup against the winner of Sebastian Korda and Facundo Bagnis would await. Korda is likely to beat the Argentine which would set up the fourth meeting between him and Paul. Korda is 3-0 against Paul, with all three wins coming in 2021. That matchup is truly a toss-up.
If Paul is able to escape his compatriot, a matchup against #5 seed Casper Ruud would likely be in the cards in round three. I do believe the American could beat Ruud, but I do not see it happening this week.
Floor: Round 2
Prediction: Round 3
(30) Maxime Cressy
Round 1: vs Marton Fucsovics
Maxime Cressy is having a career year in 2022. He has reached three finals, claiming his first tour-level final victory last month in Newport. The 25-year-old is ranked #26 in the Singles Race to Turin, a well-earned spot considering his strong play this season. His serve-and-volley style is very uncommon in today’s day and age and often causes his opponents major trouble.
Cressy is 2-2 in his US Open career, making the second round in both 2020 and 2021. Last year he defeated #9 seed, Pablo Carreno Busta, in an incredible five-set battle in round one. This year he takes on veteran Marton Fucsovics in round one.
With all the deserving praise I have given Cressy, it is worth noting he did struggle during the North American hard court summer series. In four events he posted four wins, with none of those victories being particularly notable. With that said, Fucsovics has had a hard decline over the last 12 months and likely will not cause the American much trouble.
A round two matchup against the winner of Yoshihito Nishioka and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina will be much more challenging. Both players have had some strong summer results and are sneaky threats to make some noise in New York.
If Cressy is to get by his round two opponent, #4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will likely be waiting in round three. Cressy is a hard player to predict results-wise because of his style of play. It is always interesting to see how his opponents handle a serve-and-volleyer, and most of his sets end with tiebreaks.
Floor: Round 1
Ceiling: Round 3
Prediction: Round 2
Main Photo from Getty.