US Open(ing) Our Predictions for the U.S. Open

The possibilities for this year’s tournament are endless, but here are some of the players to look out for, as well as the matches to look forward to.

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After a year of misery, impatience, boredom, and longing, the U.S. Open is in full swing at Flushing Meadows, and the storylines this year are better than ever. Will Novak Djokovic win his 24th Grand Slam? Can Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek defend their titles? Will an underdog rise and win their maiden title? The possibilities for this year’s tournament are endless, but here are some of the players to look out for, as well as the matches to look forward to. 

Carlos Alcaraz [1]

On the men’s side, all eyes are on the reigning U.S. Open champion, Carlos Alcaraz. Since his spectacular 2022 U.S. Open run, the 20-year-old Alcaraz has followed with an outstanding 2023 season, racking up six titles. Earlier this season, the ATP world number one won titles on all three surfaces: Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid, and London. Now, fresh off a Wimbledon victory against Djokovic and a finals run at the Cincinnati Open which resulted in a loss to Djokovic, Alcaraz’s movement, groundstrokes, and serve have never looked better. Though he is the favorite, he faces a relatively hard draw, projected to face top players like Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev, and Djokovic. It will be exciting to see whether the reigning champion can defend his title.

Most Anticipated Match: Finals, Carlos Alcaraz [1] versus Novak Djokovic [2]

The 20-year-old Alcaraz and the 36-year-old Djokovic would face off in an ideal men’s finals matchup. This season, the tennis world has seen some of its best play when the two face off, and we can’t get enough of it. Alcaraz’s speed, aggressiveness, and consistency match up perfectly against Djokovic’s ability to neutralize, as well as his experience and strong mentality. Earlier this year at the Wimbledon final, the two brought fans a five-set thriller, lasting almost five hours, with Alcaraz winning his second career Grand Slam. Last week in Cincinnati, the two faced off yet again in the tournament’s final, with Djokovic coming out victorious on the hard court. This finals matchup is many tennis fans’ dream.

Novak Djokovic [2] 

Not far behind Alcaraz is the number-two seed: Djokovic. Even though Alcaraz carries the No. 1 title, Djokovic is still a force to be reckoned with, and at 36 years old, he seems to be getting better with every tournament. Djokovic started the 2023 season by winning his 22nd and 23rd Grand Slams at the Australian Open and French Open, breaking the record for the most men’s singles Grand Slam titles in tennis history. Last week, Djokovic captured the Cincinnati title, beating out top players like Taylor Fritz, Alexander Zverev, and, in a heated final, Carlos Alcaraz. The Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati has proven Djokovic’s continued dominance on the hard courts, as well as his mental and physical toughness as he comes to New York. Djokovic looks to continue his win streak at the U.S. Open and faces a relatively easy draw for a top-seeded player. Though he is projected to face top-seeded players like Felix Auger-Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas, a few of his opponents have not been playing well in recent months. With Djokovic coming into the U.S. Open on a hot streak, the second seed should be able to cruise to the semifinals. 

Most Anticipated Match: Semifinals, Novak Djokovic [2] versus Holger Rune [4] 

Besides the projected finals matchup between Alcaraz and Djokovic, another potential matchup features Djokovic facing off against the fourth-seeded Holger Rune in the semifinals. Ever since the 20-year-old Rune has cracked into the top 30, the two have only played twice, with Rune winning both matches in three sets. Rune plays with an aggressive style and has excellent court coverage. However, Djokovic’s experience at the Grand Slam level and five-set tennis may give him the edge in this match, which would mark his first win against Rune since 2021.

Jannik Sinner [6]

Twenty-two-year-old and sixth seed Jannik Sinner is a bright spot in the next generation of men’s tennis. Still searching for his first Grand Slam title, Sinner has continued his good form through 2023 with title wins at the Canadian Open and Sud de France. Sinner was also a finalist at the Miami Open, often considered one of the most impressive titles outside of a Grand Slam. Though Sinner had an unexpected first-round exit at the recent Cincinnati Open, he will look to build off of a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon. It will be interesting to see if Sinner can raise his game at this year’s U.S. Open and finally get over the hump.

Most Anticipated Match: Quarterfinals, Carlos Alcaraz [1] versus Jannik Sinner [6]

In what would be a rematch from last year’s U.S. Open, a quarterfinal matchup between Sinner and Alcaraz would make for an exciting match. Though both are still in the early stages of their tennis careers, Sinner and Alcaraz have met six times, splitting the series at three apiece. Sinner took their most recent meeting in the semifinals at the Miami Open, winning a close three-set match. Sinner presents a tough match for the first-seeded Alcaraz, as he possesses strong and precise groundstrokes that challenge Alcaraz’s tenacity and speed. While only a quarterfinal match, this would likely be the closest and most interesting of the four.

Hubert Hurkacz [17]

Hailing from Poland, the 26-year-old and 17th-seed Hubert Hurkacz is a fascinating player. Ranked as high as ninth in the world, Hurkacz has had an up-and-down 2023 season. He claimed the Open 13 title in Marseilles back in February but struggled to find his form as the year progressed into clay court tournaments. However, Hurkacz’s most recent appearance at the Cincinnati Open saw him reach the semi-finals before losing to Alcaraz in a match that saw Hurkacz have a match point. Hurkacz has a massive frame, standing at 6’ 5”, and a powerful serve not to be taken lightly. Hurkacz has won almost 80 percent of his first serve points this season and has hit 15.5 aces on average. In addition to that, Hurkacz has a respectable baseline game and good volleys—things that many of his big-serving counterparts do not have. If he can keep his focus during big points and maintain his serve, Hurkacz is a dark horse candidate that could cause real damage.

Most Anticipated Match: Third Round, Karen Khachanov [11] versus Hubert Hurkacz [17]

The Russian Karen Khachanov and Hurkacz have only met once before, with Khachanov taking the win over the Pole. However, their head-to-head record is not what makes this matchup so intriguing. Both players stand well above six feet tall and have powerful serves and groundstrokes to back it up. Khachanov puts considerably more topspin on his baseline shots than Hurkacz, but Hurkacz has an undeniable edge in serving. This matchup will come down to whether or not Hurkacz can serve well enough to end points quickly and keep rallies from extending into Khachanov’s advantage. This matchup could very well be the most entertaining of the third round, seeing as the two are so evenly matched.

Christopher Eubanks [28]

Christopher Eubanks is having his career year. In March, the 27-year-old American broke into the top 100 with a quarterfinal run in the Miami Open. In July, Eubanks won his first ATP Tour title at Mallorca, on the grass. Relying on his excellent movement, aggressiveness, and precise shot placement, Eubanks proceeded to have a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon, upsetting both 13th-seeded Cameron Norrie, as well as the fifth seed, Tsitsipas. In his five matches, he hit 321 winners, the most in a Wimbledon run by any player. The improbable Wimbledon run saw Eubanks break into the top 30, which also landed him a seed at the U.S. Open. The 28th seed faces a difficult uphill climb for the title, projected to face top players like Djokovic and Tsitsipas. However, if Eubanks continues his streak of dominance, he could also make a deep run at this year’s U.S. Open.

Most Anticipated Match: Round of 32, Stefanos Tsitsipas [7] versus Christopher Eubanks [28] 

During Eubanks’s Wimbledon run, he played the game of his life—a back-and-forth five-set thriller against the fifth seed, Tsitsipas. In just a little over three hours, Eubanks completed the upset on the grass, with a final score of 3-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. With a potential rematch looming in the round of 32, it’ll be interesting to see how the two perform. Eubanks’s aggressive and powerful groundstrokes and serves matchup great against Tsitsipas’s ability to control points, cover the entire court, and use dropshots and angle shots. Having grown up in America, Eubanks is very familiar with the hard courts, while Tsitsipas’s best surface is grass, which may give Eubanks the edge in this match.

Iga Swiatek [1]

On the women’s side, the 22-year-old Iga Swiatek has proven that the hype is real and has continued her dominant run well throughout the 2023 season. The reigning U.S. Open champion claimed titles in Qatar and Dubai in February, as well as a title in Stuttgart, before winning her third French Open championship in June. Though Swiatek’s best surface is clay—where she lost only a single set throughout her French Open run—she excels on hard courts as well. Swiatek’s speed, shotmaking ability, and return game are arguably the best on tour, and it shows. Recently, Swiatek won the Poland Open in her hometown of Warsaw and reached the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open before losing a nailbiter to Coco Gauff. Swiatek is the clear favorite for this tournament, and rightfully so. However, Swiatek still faces a difficult draw, with potential matchups against sixth-seeded Gauff and fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina in her half. 

Most Anticipated Match: Final, Iga Swiatek [1] versus Aryna Sabalenka [2]

On paper, a matchup between Swiatek and the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka might overshadow the tournament’s other talents as another final between the top two seeds. However, this likely matchup would be extremely fun to watch. Sabalenka has had a similarly impressive season compared to Swiatek, capturing titles in Adelaide, Madrid, and at the Australian Open—her first Grand Slam title. The two have an extensive history, with Swiatek taking five of their eight matchups. Swiatek and Sabalenka most recently played in Madrid, where Sabalenka took the win in the finals. Previously, they played each other at last year’s U.S. Open semifinals, with Swiatek barely edging out Sabalenka. Sabalenka has powerful serves and groundstrokes in her arsenal, and the key to this matchup would be whether or not Swiatek’s tenacity can match Sabalenka’s power. Even though this matchup would be a highly predictable final, disappointment is not on the menu at Swiatek and Sablenka’s Open.

Jessica Pegula [3]

Top-seeded American and New York native Jessica Pegula has been struggling in semifinal and final matches all season long. On top of that, the 29-year-old is yet to reach a semifinal in a Grand Slam, let alone win one. However, she will look to flip the script in Queens. Pegula is coming off her best month of the season, capturing her first title of 2023 in Montreal on the hard courts. Her all-around balanced playstyle, as well as her ability to play at the net, makes her a tough matchup against any player. With her recent success, only time will tell whether it’ll translate into a deep run at the Open.

Most Anticipated Match: Final, Jessica Pegula [3] versus Coco Gauff [6] 

Ever since tennis legend Serena Williams faced her sister, Venus Williams, in the 2002 U.S. Open finals, there has only been one American versus American women’s final match. As the second-highest-seeded American, Coco Gauff continues to play excellent tennis, and though this is Swiatek’s tournament to lose, another American-American matchup in the U.S. Open finals would be both possible and extremely interesting. Not only would Pegula and Gauff be facing off for the third time of the year, but they would also be facing their own doubles partner. Pegula and Gauff have won five titles as a pair, and it would be interesting to see how their doubles play style can affect their singles match. The aggressiveness of both players would definitely result in an ultimate finals matchup.

Coco Gauff [6]

At just 19 years old, the sixth-seeded Coco Gauff has had an incredible season to date. The American began the year by winning the ASB Classic and has not stopped there, recently winning titles at the Citi Open and the Cincinnati Open. Gauff boasts a powerful serve, as well as a potent backhand and incredible athleticism. Though Gauff is yet to reach her prime, she is already a force to be reckoned with, and her recent hot streak makes her an overlooked favorite in the U.S. Open. The future of American tennis is bright, and Gauff is one of the main reasons why.

Most Anticipated Match: Quarterfinal, Iga Swiatek [1] versus Coco Gauff [6]

Though Swiatek may be the favorite, Gauff presents a serious challenge on Swiatek’s road to the finals. At first glance, their head-to-head record looks very lopsided; Swiatek has lost only once to Gauff in their eight matchups. However, this does not tell the whole story. During Gauff’s recent success, the two squared up at the Cincinnati Open, where the American took a decisive albeit close victory over the Pole. Both players rely heavily on their movement to have success, so should they meet in the quarter-finals, athleticism would be a key to victory. Would Gauff’s recent success give her the upset over Swiatek, or would Swiatek’s overall record against Gauff and pedigree give her the win? This would have the biggest storyline of any women’s quarterfinals this U.S. Open and would undoubtedly be an exciting match.