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The matches to watch at the 2019 US Open

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Roar Guru
23rd August, 2019
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The men’s and women’s draws for the 2019 US Open have been released and it has the potential to produce some must-watch mouth-watering clashes over the next fortnight.

In the men’s draw Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the top two seeds, meaning they cannot face each other until the final, with Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem looming as their potential semi-final opponents.

But it’s the women’s draw that has thrown up a large number of interesting matches, not least the first-round blockbuster between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, which will be the first time the two rivals face off in the Big Apple.

As always, we start with the men, where defending champion Djokovic will begin his bid for a fourth US Open title against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena before facing a potential second-round clash against local hope Sam Querrey.

It was only three years ago Querrey caused a major upset at Wimbledon by defeating the Serb in four sets and putting an end to his 30-match winning streak across all four majors.

But he’s not the only tricky opponent Djokovic could face – he could then face retiring compatriot Janko Tipsarevic or another countryman in Dusan Lajovic in the third round, while 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson or 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka could await in the fourth round.

Novak Djokovic with the 2019 Wimbledon trophy.

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Anderson starts against American wildcard Zachary Svajda, while Wawrinka will face a qualifier in his opening match. Should both win their opening two matches, they will face off in the Round of 32.

The other name to watch in this quarter of the draw is recent Cincinnati champ Daniil Medvedev, who will start against India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran and should not be challenged until the third round, when local Taylor Fritz could await.

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Also in this section of the draw is Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini and former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, who has entered with a protected ranking after being plagued by a back injury for most of the past 12 months.

Third seed and five-time champion Roger Federer headlines the second quarter; he will begin against a qualifier with Frenchman Lucas Pouille looming as his first seeded threat in the third round.

He is then projected to face Belgian David Goffin in the Round of 16, while former US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta is also in this section of the draw.

Former finalist Kei Nishikori looms as Federer’s potential quarter-final opponent, though there are many other players the Swiss maestro could face should he, as expected, reach the last eight.

Nishikori starts against a qualifier but could then face Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the third round and then 12th seed Borna Coric in the fourth round.

Kei Nishikori

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Other names to watch in this part of the draw include former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic. Likewise Jack Sock and Grigor Dimitrov, who have both fallen down the rankings in recent years.

Further down the draw eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will face a potentially tricky opening match as he bids to avoid a second consecutive first-round exit at a grand slam.

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The 21-year-old Greek star starts off against Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who recently handed Roger Federer his quickest defeat in over 16 and a half years at the Cincinnati Masters.

Should seedings hold, he could face good friend Nick Kyrgios in the third round provided the controversial Australian defeats Steve Johnson in his first match and either Leonardo Mayer or Antoine Hoang in his second match.

Two more Aussies, Jordan Thompson and Alexei Popyrin, are in this part of the draw, with the former set to face Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the second round should he defeat Joao Sousa in his first match.

Popyrin, meantime, is projected to face Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut in the second round.

Fourth seed Dominic Thiem is the leading name in the third quarter of the draw and should not be threatened until the third round, when he could face Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund and then French showman Gael Monfils in the fourth.

Dominic Thiem Laver Cup.

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

In the bottom quarter of the draw Germany’s Alexander Zverev starts against Moldova’s Radu Albot but could then face a tricky roadblock in the form of either Croatian serving machine Ivo Karlovic or local hope Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

He is projected to then face ninth seed Karen Khachanov in the fourth round, but the Russian could then face a tricky second-round clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, provided he gets past Vasek Pospisil in the opening round.

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Down at the bottom of the draw, last year’s surprise quarter-finalist John Millman has copped the short straw, drawn to face world No. 2 and 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the first round.

It will be his third consecutive match against a tennis heavyweight at Flushing Meadows, having upset Roger Federer in the fourth round before bowing out to Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final last year.

In fact Nadal could face another Aussie in the second round should Thanasi Kokkinakis defeat a qualifier in his first match.

The Spaniard is then drawn to face compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the third round in what would be a repeat of their quarter-final duel from 2010 and then either John Isner or Marin Cilic in the last 16.

Isner and Cilic could face off in the third round provided they win their first two matches. Isner’s starts against a qualifier, while Cilic is up against Martin Klizan, who he defeated in the fourth round in 2012 in his first match.

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Barring any major upsets, these are my predicted quarter-finals, semi-finals and championship outcomes.

Quarter-finals
Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Daniil Medvedev (RUS) [5]
Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs Kei Nishikori (JPN) [7]
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [8] vs Dominic Thiem (AUT) [4]
Alexander Zverev (GER) [6] vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2]

Semi-finals
Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Roger Federer (SUI) [3]
Dominic Thiem (AUT) [4] vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2]

Predicted championship outcome
Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] defeats Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2]

Novak Djokovic

(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

We now switch our focus to the women, where the biggest highlight is the mouth-watering opening round clash between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, which will mark the first time the two women have met at the US Open.

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We’ll get to that shortly, but first, as always, we start at the top of the draw, where top seed Naomi Osaka will begin life as a defending champion at a major against Russia’s Anna Blinkova.

The 21-year-old isn’t expected to be threatened until the third round, when Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro could await, while Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic could be waiting in the wings in the last 16.

Bencic will have no reason to fear facing Osaka, having defeated her twice this year, including at Indian Wells, where the Japanese player was the defending champion, as well as in Madrid.

The second section of the draw is highlighted by a clash between Belarussians Aryna Sabalenka, who is seeded ninth, and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

It may well mark a changing of the guard of some sort given Sabalenka has risen through the ranks in recent years while Azarenka is reaching the twilight of her career, which was interrupted by pregnancy a few years ago.

The winner of this clash could face 23rd seed Donna Vekic in the third round and seventh seed Kiki Bertens in the fourth. Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Julia Goerges is also in this part of the draw, as is Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In the second quarter of the draw, fourth seed Simona Halep will start against either a qualifier or lucky loser and isn’t expected to be threatened until the Round of 16 when either Caroline Wozniacki or Bianca Andreescu could await.

Simona Halep reacts

(Bradley Collyer/PA via AP)

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Wozniacki, twice a runner-up at Flushing Meadows, starts against China’s Wang Yafan but could then strike Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins in the second round and Andreescu in the third.

The fourth section is headlined by two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who will start against a qualifier but could then face Germany’s Andrea Petkovic in the second round.

The left-handed Czech is then drawn to face Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the third round and either Sloane Stephens or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last 16.

Former champs Stephens (2017) and Kuznetsova (2004) could face off in the second round should both win their opening matches, which in Stephens’s case will be against a qualifier or lucky loser.

Whoever wins that could then face 24th seed and two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round for a likely shot at Kvitova in the last 16.

We now flip the page to the bottom half of the draw, where fifth seed and Wimbledon semi-finalist Elina Svitolina could face a major hurdle in the second round, when she could face Venus Williams provided both win their opening-round matches.

Twentieth seed Sofia Kenin, who recently upended Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka in Toronto and Cincinnati respectively, is also another name to watch out for in this part of the draw.

The 20-year-old has been drawn to face compatriot and former US Open semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round and, should she reach the third round, tenth seed and recent Cincinnati champion Madison Keys is likely to await.

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Sofia Kenin

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Further down the draw 16th seed Johanna Konta starts against former top-ten player Daria Kasatkina and could then face Marketa Vondrousova, who defeated the Brit in the semi-finals of the French Open in June, in the third round.

Vondrousova may have to get past 2011 champion Samantha Stosur in the second round for another shot at Konta; that’s provided the Australian defeats Ekaterina Alexandrova in her first match.

Whichever of these players reaches the fourth round is likely to face third seed Karolina Pliskova, who must reach the quarter-finals or better if she is to regain the world No. 1 ranking she last held just under two years ago.

Now to the match we’ve all been waiting for: the first-round blockbuster between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, who despite their storied and lopsided rivalry, will be facing off at Flushing Meadows for the first time ever.

This match highlights the bottom quarter of the draw, where second seed Ashleigh Barty is the other huge name to watch out for.

Williams will carry an 18-match winning streak against Sharapova into their clash, which will be their first anywhere since the quarter-finals of the 2016 Australian Open.

The pair were due to meet in the fourth round at the French Open last year, but the American withdrew due to a pectoral injury. This meant that while Sharapova advanced to the quarter-finals, the Russian still hasn’t managed to beat Williams since the 2004 WTA finals.

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Maria Sharapova at the French Open.

(CTK via AP Images)

Both players have mostly struggled since making their comebacks from maternity leave and a doping ban respectively, with neither having won a title since 2017.

Williams has not saluted since winning the Australian Open that year, which she won while eight weeks pregnant – at the time nobody except for those closest to her knew about it – while Sharapova’s most recent title was at Tianjin that same year.

Hsieh Su-wei, the 29th seed, is likely to await either player in the third round, while Anastasija Sevastova, whose first match is against Eugenie Bouchard, could wait in the wings in the Round of 16.

At the bottom of the draw Ashleigh Barty, who will have the most points of the current top four – her, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep – when last year’s points are removed, will start against Zarina Diyas in the first round.

She could then face a potentially tricky second-round clash against Lauren Davis, who as a lucky loser at Wimbledon knocked out defending champion Angelique Kerber in the second round last month.

Kerber, for her part, starts off against France’s Kristina Mladenovic and could then face Australia’s Daria Gavrilova in the second round and 18th seed Wang Qiang in the third round before possibly facing Barty in the fourth round.

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Barring any major upsets, these are my predicted quarter-finals, semi-finals and championship outcomes.

Quarter-finals
Naomi Osaka (JPN) [1] vs Kiki Bertens (NED) [7]
Simona Halep (ROU) [4] vs Petra Kvitova (CZE) [6]
Elina Svitolina (UKR) [5] vs Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [3]
Serena Williams (USA) [8] vs Ashleigh Barty (AUS) [2]

Semi-finals
Naomi Osaka (JPN) [1] vs Simona Halep (ROU) [4]
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [3] vs Serena Williams (USA) [8]

Predicted championship outcome
Serena Williams (USA) [8] defeats Simona Halep (ROU) [4]

Play gets underway on Monday, 26 August (local time).