The US Open, beginning on Monday, will witness another epic battle between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.
The duo has excited tennis enthusiasts this year with two extraordinary games, initially in the Wimbledon championship and then more recently at the Cincinnati Open.
Djokovic described last Sunday’s Cincinnati Open final victory over Alcaraz as “one of the toughest matches” of his career and the three-set, nearly four-hour clash will surely go down as one of tennis’ all-time great encounters.
The top two players in the world, Alcaraz and Djokovic, put on a spectacular display of tennis in Cincinnati, captivating fans with their burgeoning rivalry while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were absent.
To be honest, it is extremely unlikely for anyone other than Alcaraz, the reigning champion, or Djokovic to win the US Open. They are clearly in a class above the other competitors in the tournament.
Alcaraz is currently just 20 points behind Djokovic in the world rankings, with a significant gap of over 3,500 points to Daniil Medvedev at No. 3.
The sport of men’s tennis has heavily relied on the intense rivalries between Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic throughout the years. While it may be exaggerated to claim that Alcaraz’s emergence has rescued the sport, the rise of the Spanish player certainly eases the transition into the next era.
The 20-year-old had a phenomenal year in 2023, claiming six championships, including a second grand slam victory at Wimbledon and two Masters 1000 tournaments.
Following his impressive victory against Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, Alcaraz experienced a momentary drop in form during a surprising quarterfinal loss to Tommy Paul at the Canadian Open. However, he made a strong comeback and showcased some of his finest tennis of the season en route to the final in Cincinnati.
Alcaraz is the highest-ranked player in the tournament and may potentially have a rematch with Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals. This would be one year after their intense five-set match, which ended at 2:50 a.m. and holds the record for the latest finish at the US Open.
He is on the same side of the bracket as the third seed, Medvedev, and they could potentially meet in the semifinals.
John McEnroe, a seven-time grand slam champion, expressed his astonishment at Alcaraz’s achievements in the past year, stating that he is the most impressive player he has seen at such a young age.
“Novak’s continued excellence is truly amazing. Witnessing a match between the all-time great and a young superstar would be incredible. I’d be thrilled to see a rematch.”
“The previous few games have been intense and thrilling, let’s hope this trend continues.”
Djokovic secured his fourth championship of the year by defeating Alcaraz in Cincinnati. This adds to his triumphs at the Australian Open and French Open, bringing his total number of grand slam titles to 23.
The Serbian player is back in the US after not being able to enter in 2021 because he is not vaccinated. However, he quickly made a comeback by winning in Cincinnati.
Novak Djokovic will compete against Alexandre Muller from France in the first round and they are both in the same quarter of the draw as Stefanos Tsitsipas.
At 36 years old, Djokovic is nearing the end of his career, but he continues to play at his peak level, providing fans with the opportunity to witness many more exciting matches between the top two players in the world.
As the third-ranked player in the world and a previous winner of the US Open, Medvedev from Russia is the top contender among those trailing behind to potentially cause an upset at Flushing Meadows.
In the first and second halves of the season, the 27-year-old experienced vastly different outcomes. Medvedev achieved five ATP Tour victories in the first five months of 2023, which included two Masters 1000 championships and three consecutive wins in February.
Unfortunately, his performance has significantly decreased after his victory against Holger Rune at the Rome Masters, which was his last title.
Following the tournament, Medvedev was unexpectedly eliminated in the first round by Thiago Seyboth Wild at the French Open. Apart from reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, he has not been able to win more than two matches at a tournament since then.
Medvedev is certainly a potential contender for the US Open, however, this will only be possible if he is able to regain his form from earlier in the season.
In 2022, Capser Ruud made it to the final, but has now lost in all three of his grand slam finals. He has a lot at stake as he aims to maintain the rankings points he earned in last year’s tournament.
The player ranked fifth in the world has had a fluctuating season, with a notable stretch in May and June where he made it to the semifinals of the Rome Masters and then the final of the French Open.
With more experience in grand slam finals, it’s possible that the 2023 US Open will be the tournament where Ruud finally overcomes his struggles in grand slam finals.