Tennis predictions - Djokovic favored in U.S. Open men's draw

Novak Djokovic hits a serve at the 2019 U.S. Open.
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Ricky Dimon

Tennis · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The 2020 U.S. Open men’s singles draw was revealed on Thursday, with the tournament to begin next Monday and run for two weeks. Normally the second Grand Slam of every tennis season, this time around the U.S. Open is the second of three; Wimbledon was cancelled and the French Open got postponed from late May and early June to late September and early October.

Rafael Nadal has chosen to remain in Europe instead of going to the United States, thus skipping the upcoming festivities in New York City in favor of preparing for the French Open. With Roger Federer sidelined by a knee injury, that leaves Novak Djokovic as the only participating member of the “Big 3.” Why are they the Big 3? Well, Federer has won 21 slams; Nadal is one behind at 20; Djokovic is gaining with 17 after triumphing at the Australian Open earlier this year. Nobody else currently on tour has more than three (Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka).

The draw

Can anyone stop Djokovic from capturing an 18th major title? Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem are the second and third favorites, respectively, both both of them are on the other side of the draw and could not meet Djokovic until the final. Closer to the top-ranked Serb in the bracket are Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and David Goffin. Tsitsipas and Zverev are potential semifinal opponents, while Goffin is the other top-eight seed in Djokovic’s quarter of the bracket. One giant roadblock–quite literally–for the top seed could come in the form of 6’10” American John Isner in round four. Up-and-coming Canadian Denis Shapovalov is a +1110 second choice in the Djokovic quarter.

On the other side of the draw, Medvedev appears to have a friendly path to at least the quarterfinals. The 2019 U.S. Open runner-up (lost to Nadal in five sets) could run into either fellow Russian Andrey Rublev or 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini at that point. Theim is in a more difficult quarter, as fellow contenders for the semifinal spot in the bottom section are Murray, Milos Raonic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Karem Khachanov, Alex de Minaur, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and 2014 champion Marin Cilic.

The odds

Outright favorites

Novak Djokovic (-120) – Yes, with Nadal and Federer out Djokovic is less than even money to win in New York. The 33-year-old is a thee-time champion of this event and he boasts an undefeated match record in 2020 (21-0). What’s not to like about Djokovic this fortnight (well, other than the short odds)?

Daniil Medvedev (+650) – Medvedev’s 2019 summer surge (secured the Cincinnati title to go along with runner-up performances at the U.S. Open and Canada Masters) was memorable. He played well enough this week in Cincinnati to suggest more magic in New York is possible.

Dominic Thiem (+750) – Thiem is the No. 2 seed, but whereas Medvedev thrives on fast hard courts they do not suit the clay-court loving Austrian. He is a two-time runner-up at the French Open; he has never made it that far at Flushing Meadows. Plus, an early loss at the Cincinnati Masters is cause for concern.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (+800) – There are these four, and then there’s everyone else (the fifth favorite, Zverev, is all the way down at +2200). Tsitsipas triumphed at the year-end championship (where only the top eight players are invited) in 2019, so he knows how to get the job done on the biggest stage.


Isner can beat anyone on any given day simply based on the nature of his game, and given that this is the first tournament since January in which best-of-five-set matches are being played there will probably be more upsets than usual at the U.S. Open. Yes, even Djokovic could be vulnerable. At +1600 in the Djokovic section, Isner is an intriguing choice. In the Tsitsipas section, it may be worth taking a look at Zverev (+350) and Diego Schwartzman (+1400). Medvedev is tough to bet against in his quarter, but Rublev (+500) and Berrettini (+550) are in solid form and have a history of success in New York. Thiem’s fourth of the draw is the most wide open. Given that the surface isn’t good for him and the best-of-five nature could be a problem for the likes of Murray and Raonic, Bautista Agut at +700 represents great value.

Be sure to check out our daily expert tennis picks throughout the U.S. Open.

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