All seven active former US Open men’s singles champions will be in action this year, but the list of contenders does not end there. This preview details a selection of champs, challengers and rising stars who could be playing deep into the tournament’s second week.
After the 2017 US Open went on without five of the ATP’s Top 11 men, there is an abundance of star power on tap for 2018.
Rafael Nadal – Though the defending champion and world No. 1 has played only one hard-court event this summer, he made the most of it by winning his record-extending 33rd Masters 1000 title at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. He has collected five ATP titles in 2018, bringing his career total to 80, and now has an opportunity to complete a French Open-US Open double for the second consecutive year.
Roger Federer – After winning five consecutive US Open titles from 2004-08, Federer has not been able to reclaim the New York crown despite two final appearances and three semifinal runs. Like Nadal, he has only played one summer hard-court event, reaching the final at the Cincinnati Masters. At 37, the two-time defending Australian Open champ has perfected the art of peaking at the right times.
Novak Djokovic – The in-form player of the summer, Djokovic enters New York on the back of titles at both Wimbledon and the Cincinnati Masters. His Cincinnati title completed a Career Golden Masters for the Serb, as he became the first man in history to win all nine Masters events. Dating back to Queen’s Club in late June, Djokovic has a record of 19-2 in his past four tournaments, including an 8-1 record across two Masters events in the US Open Series.
Juan Martin del Potro – The 2009 US Open champion enters his 10th US Open as the No. 3 seed, just weeks after rising to No. 3 in the ATP World Rankings for the first time in his career. The lanky Argentine’s love affair with New York is the stuff of legends; his iconic comeback victory against Dominic Thiem in last year’s fourth round, during which he battled flu and fever, was just one highlight during his 2017 semifinal run. The New York crowd will be firmly in his corner once again this year.
Alex Zverev – The three-time ATP Masters champion has yet to advance beyond the second round at the US Open, but he is poised for a breakthrough with his explosive game. The 21-year-old reached the French Open quarterfinals in June for his best career major performance and will be plotting to at least match that as the No. 4 seed in New York. His dominant performance in winning the Washington Open title showed that he has more than enough hard-court game for a deep run at the Open.
Kevin Anderson – After reaching his first Grand Slam final at the 2017 US Open, Anderson has continued his strong form this season with a runner-up finish at Wimbledon, one semifinal and two quarterfinal Masters 1000 showings, and a title at the inaugural New York Open. Having shown staying power to go along with his serving power, the No. 5-seeded South African will hope to go one step further at this year’s tournament.
John Isner – At the age of 33, Isner may be playing the best tennis of his life. He won the biggest title of his career at the Miami Masters in March and backed it up with a run to the Wimbledon semifinals, his best performance in 41 career major appearances. Despite having been the top-ranked American at five of the past six US Opens, Isner has advanced to the quarterfinals in New York just once in his career, in 2011. That may change this year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas – The Greek phenom reached his first Masters final on his 20th birthday, knocking out four Top 10 players in succession before falling to Nadal in the Rogers Cup championship round. It was his first hard-court ATP final and his second final of 2018. His sudden climb up the ATP rankings, further aided by a fourth-round run at Wimbledon, means he will be seeded No. 15 in his US Open main-draw debut.
Denis Shapovalov – As the youngest player in the ATP’s Top 100, the 19-year-old Shapovalov will be the only seeded teen in the men’s draw. The breakout story of last summer, the Canadian reached the semifinals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal before reaching the fourth round at the US Open. He reached a second Masters semifinal in Madrid in May and achieved a career-high ranking of No. 23 in June.
Alex de Minaur – After starting the 2018 season ranked outside the Top 200, the 19-year-old Aussie has reached a pair of ATP 250 hard-court finals in 2018, most recently in Washington, D.C., to help boost his ranking to No. 43. He and Shapovalov are the only teens in the ATP’s Top 100. De Minaur made his US Open debut as a wild card in 2017, falling to Dominic Thiem in the opening round. This year’s event will be his seventh Slam main-draw appearance, and he is coming off his best performance yet – a third-round run at Wimbledon.