The day session on Tuesday at the US Open was one the lightest in terms of matches played–one each from the men’s and women’s draws, yet it probably had the highest star power.
Iga Swiatek’s slayer, Jelena Ostapenko, came up against home favorite and 6th seed Coco Gauff. Of course, many had rightly expected her to take the young American to the distance or even surpass her, yet within an hour, the match was over. Gauff’s tremendous service game married with some superb returns forced the Latvian into a mammoth 38 unforced errors which ultimately decided the match before it even started, 6-0 6-2.
It was the perfect display from the former French Open finalist, and the scary truth is she does not need to raise her game to emerge champion on Sunday. It was a truly breath-taking display of power and piercing accuracy that it is almost certain she’ll zoom past her semifinal opponent if she can manage to replicate her game against Ostapenko. Only a brave fight by Sabalenka (assuming she reaches the final) will stop her.
On the other side of the draw, American Taylor Fritz was expected to at least take a set off Novak Djokovic considering the way he struck out Dominic Stricker in straight sets in the previous round, but in the end it was a masterful display by the legendary Serb to send the American #1 out in straight sets. After a blitzkrieg first set, Fritz did stay in the rest of the match. The difference was Djokovic breaking back immediately each time he was broken and saving way more break points than the American.
I cannot see anyone troubling the Serb from here on. Not even Carlos Alcaraz. Yes, the matador has defeated Djokovic twice, but never on hard courts. There’s a reason why more than half of Djokovic’s Slam titles have come from the hard surfaces of Melbourne and Flushing Meadows. Besides and even more crucial, he has a tougher route to the final.
There are the other hurdles Alcaraz has to get past: Alexander Zverev and either Daniil Medvedev or Andrey Rublev. First off, it would take something very special to defeat the in-form Alexander Zverev in the quarters. The German has been one of the top performers in New York with decisive victories over Grigor Dimitrov and hot favorite Jannik Sinner. If Alcaraz saves enough break points to outlast Zverev, he surely would be drained after the semis before a potential final with Djokovic.
Expect Coco Gauff to win her maiden Slam in front of her home fans and the iconic Djokovic to extend his Slam record to 24 titles with his 4th US Open, and first since 2018.
Main Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports