Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2020 US Open.
Welcome to New York, which may or may be the site for the 2020 US Open over the next two weeks.
Welcome to the age of uncertainty too, the age of uncertainty where a global pandemic might not have been enough to halt tennis in its tracks for that long but where athletes’ activism might just do the trick. On the very same day that the US Open held its draw ceremony yesterday, the Western & Southern Open had decided to suspend play for the entire day after, you might have heard, the great Naomi Osaka announced she wouldn’t compete in her semifinal to stand in solidarity with her fellow athletes from the NBA as well as just about every decent human being.
In the grand scheme of things, considering we’re currently battling a disease that has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide and given the political climate in the country where this event is held—where, again, decent folks from just about every sphere of society are peacefully protesting the death Black people at the hands of police offers as well as more broadly the targeted violence and institutional and systemic racism against them—the fact that tennis decides to just move forward with the big pot of gold in Flushing Meadows is fairly dumb honestly.
But it is what it is. In light of this, the plan as we’re writing these lines is still to host the 2020 US Open over the next two weeks, so why not try our hand at our (famously wrong) draw predictions.
Somehow Karolina Pliskova lords over this singles draw but as we saw last week in her early exist at the Western & Southern Open, betting the house on the Czech can be a tricky proposition. Instead, for the top section we’re sliding with Angelique Kerber, another player who’s as inconsistent as they come. (We like to have fun.) We’re also high on Osaka, though foreseeing great things for the Japanese isn’t the surest bet—and it’s all to her honour.
Lower in the draw, the easy answer is to slot in Serena Williams next to one of the semifinals spots but maybe the great American shouldn’t be the US Open favourite she’s always been. We’re optimistic, but cautiously so. Quite the opposite for Williams’s semifinal opponent, really.
Quarterfinals: Angelique Kerber over Petra Matric; Petra Kvitova over Anett Kontaveit; Serena Williams over Donna Vekic; Sofia Kenin over Johanna Konta
Semifinals: Petra Kvitova over Angelique Kerber; Sofia Kenin over Serena Williams
Final: Sofia Kenin over Petra Kvitova
Novak Djokovic will likely never have a better occasion to make up ground on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal than right here in Flushing Meadows. Nothing else does, and should, really matter for the Serb.
And yet? And yet, this singles draw is one loaded with potential landmines, especially in the lower half: should Djokovic make it unscathed from the quarterfinals or even semifinals, things could be quite different for the best player in the world in the final. Canadian Milos Raonic has come back to action a new man, or at least one with great results as this past week in Cincinnati-by-way-of-New-York can attest, and we think he’ll be a force at the US Open.
He just won’t be quite as lethal as the favourite of the third section, the man who conquered Flushing Meadows a year ago. Long live Daniil Medvedev.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Taylor Fritz; Diego Schwartzman over Borna Coric; Daniil Medvedev over Andrey Rublev; Milos Raonic over Marin Cilic
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Diego Schwartzman; Daniil Medvedev over Milos Raonic
Final: Daniil Medvedev over Novak Djokovic
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG