The 2020 US Open is Novak Djokovic's to lose as he seeks the 18th major title of his illustrious career. The No. 1-ranked Serbian most recently won in Flushing Meadows in 2018 before being surprised in the fourth round last year by Stan Wawrinka.
With the absence of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic is the lone player in the draw who can reliably be counted on to reach the semifinals or better. The main threats in his half of the draw are No. 16 seed John Isner (10-2 against), No. 7 seed David Goffin (7-1 against) and No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (3-2 against). None of those players have reached a major final before, and with that in mind, it would be shocking if the Serbian didn't reach the final.
The bottom half of the draw is much more open, with a plethora of contenders who could advance through the field to face the top seed in the final. No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev is the favorite in the bottom half of the draw after reaching the final of the US Open in 2019 and pushing Nadal to five sets. No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem previously reached the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows in 2018, but was bounced in the opening round in 2019. He looks to have a straightforward route to the quarterfinals, but his performance is fairly tough to predict.
The bottom half also features No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 25 seed Milos Raonic, two players who have looked excellent since the 2020 season resumed. Raonic reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open earlier this year and has a previous runner-up finish at a major (Wimbledon 2016). It wouldn't be surprising to see either of these two get through to the final. The veteran Spaniard is typically a rock solid performer but has lost in the first round of the US Open in each of the past two years, which gives some cause for concern.
Two other players to keep an eye on in the bottom half are No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini and No. 10 seed Andrey Rublev. The young Russian got off to a red hot 15-3 start to 2020 as he grabbed two titles and reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. His best major performance came in 2017 when he reached the quarterfinals of the US Open, and he also reached Round 4 last year. Berrettini reached the semifinals in New York last year, but he's just 2-2 in 2020 and hasn't given much reason to expect he'll turn in a repeat performance.
Round 1 matches to watch
Opelka looked great at the Western & Southern Open last week while knocking off two top-15 opponents en route to the quarterfinals before he had to retire due to a knee injury. If the 22-year-old American is healthy, this match has upset potential. The two have split their previous encounters, with Opelka winning the most recent matchup. Goffin has reached the fourth round of the US Open in each of his previous three trips to New York.
Anderson, the 2017 US Open runner-up, is a player Zverev would have preferred to have not drawn in his first match in New York. The towering South African has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons, and as a result his ranking is at No. 124. The 23-year-old German leads the head-to-head 5-0, so he's certainly favored, but he's had a history of struggling in majors to go along with double faults woes the last several years.
Sandgren reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, and also the third round of the US Open last season. The 29-year-old American is a potentially tricky matchup for the No. 8-seeded Spaniard who has made a deep run at the Western & Southern Open and could be feeling a little fatigue as a result in Round 1.
The 19-year-old Italian is just 3-5 on the year, but one of those wins came against top-10 foe David Goffin and has shown flashes of strong play early in his career. Khachanov, meanwhile, has two Round 1 exits in his last three appearances at the US Open. The No. 11-seeded Russian should win this match, but Sinner has the talent to pull off the upset.
Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, looked good in his Western & Southern Open return with an upset win over Alexander Zverev. Nishioka reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this season, and was 9-5 on the year before the suspension of play. This match has the makings of a five-setter.
Quarterfinals: Djokovic d. Shapovalov, Tsitsipas d. Schwartzman, Medvedev d. Rublev, Raonic d. Thiem
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Tsitsipas, Medvedev d. Raonic
Final: Medvedev d. Djokovic