Five players to watch ahead of the 2021 US Open
Despite the dominance of Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, there have been six different winners of the US Open in the last decade.
Djokovic comes into Flushing Meadows knowing that a 21st Major title would take him above Nadal and Roger Federer, and see him become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the Calendar Slam.
Whilst many are predicting top seeds Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev to cause the Serbian the most problems, Tennishead looks at five up-and-coming stars to watch at the upcoming Slam.
1) Carlos Alcaraz – World No 55, Best US Open run: Debut
Carlos Alcaraz, who has been branded the ‘next Rafael Nadal’, is predicted to hit the heights on the clay court surface where many of his biggest wins have come.
However, the 18-year-old has also performed excellently on the hard-courts, winning 21 of his last 28 matches on the surface.
The Spaniard comes into Flushing Meadows in impressive form having reached the semi-final of the Winston-Salem Open last week.
Despite making his first Major appearance at the Australian Open this year, Alcaraz has won all of his opening round contests at the three Slams prior to New York.
If Alcaraz is to continue his form, he must overcome British number two Cameron Norrie who possesses a 37-18 record for the season.
Gen X 🤝 Gen Z
Ivo Karlovic (b. 1979) & Carlos Alcaraz (b. 2003) are the oldest & youngest players in the men's singles draw. pic.twitter.com/uovE9hdm57
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 28, 2021
2) Jannik Sinner – World No 16, Best US Open run: 1R (2019, 2020)
Jannik Sinner burst onto the scene with a fairytale run to the French Open quarter-finals last year, where he eventually fell to Rafael Nadal after an eye-catching display.
Since then, the Italian star has racked up three hard-court titles in Sofia, Washington and Melbourne, demonstrating that he certainly has the game for the hard-court.
However, the 20-year-old is yet to taste victory at Flushing Meadows, having lost both of his opening round encounters to Stan Wawrinka and Karen Khachanov respectively.
This time, the Italian is the seeded player and faces wildcard Max Purcell as he bids to put together his best run at the US Open.
New York prep 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/Cf5UgQisl0
— Jannik Sinner (@janniksin) August 24, 2021
3) Alexei Popyrin – World No 73, Best US Open run: 3R (2019)
One player who has hasn’t quite fulfilled their potential is Australian star Alexei Popyrin.
The 22-year-old, who has five top 10 victories in his career, battled past Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik to lift his first ATP title in Singapore earlier this year.
Despite showing his huge potential on multiple occasions, Popryin has been unable to string victories together at a Major and is yet to reach the fourth round at any Slam.
The 22-year-old, who possesses a powerful serve and a huge forehand, certainly has the game to cause a few upsets at Flushing Meadows this year. The Australian will kick off his campaign against Radu Albot.
Our Aussie players are building some impressive form:
– Alexei Popyrin has qualified at the @WSOpen, winning back-to-back matches for the first time since May
– Jaimee Fourlis has won her first ITF title in three years in Spain #GoAussies https://t.co/FX7PoIogDe
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) August 23, 2021
4) Jenson Brooksby – World No 99, Best US Open run: 2R (2019)
If there is one player who has people talking ahead of the US Open it’s Jenson Brooksby. One such individual is Andy Murray, who voiced his praise for Brooksby’s entertaining style of play.
Less than four months ago, the 20-year-old was ranked outside the top 200, though runs to the Newport final and the Washington semi-finals, saw Brooksby crack the top 100 earlier this month.
The American wildcard comes into New York after recent straight set victories over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe, showing he has the capability to battle against the top stars.
Brooksby will begin his campaign against the unseeded Mikael Ymer, who recently enjoyed a run to the final at the Winston-Salem Open.
Welcome to the Top 100! 👏
— ATP Tour (@atptour) August 9, 2021
5) Ilya Ivashka – World No 53, Best US Open run: 1R (2016, 2019)
One player who is finally starting to achieve his potential, albeit a little later in his career, is Ilya Ivashka.
The Belarusian comes into Flushing Meadows in brilliant form having lifted his first ATP title at the final pre-cursor event last week.
Two months ago, the 27-year-old enjoyed his deepest run at a Grand Slam with a fourth round appearance at Wimbledon and will hope to go even further at the US Open.
Ivashka has won 25 of his last 32 matches on the hard-courts, and is currently at a career-high ranking of 53 after starting 2021 outside of the top 100.
The Belarusian kicks off his third main draw appearance at the US Open against the experienced American Tennys Sandgren.
Immaculate Ivashka 🇧🇾👊
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 28, 2021
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