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No. 1 Medvedev Defends; Nadal for 23; No Djokovic at US Open

August 26, 2022

NEW YORK — Some of the men to watch at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday at Flushing Meadows:

DANIIL MEDVEDEV

Seeded: 1

Ranked: 1

Country: Russia

Age: 26

2022 Record: 34-12

2022 Titles: 1

Career Titles: 14

Grand Slam Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2021)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-Won Championship, 2020-Lost in Semifinals, 2019-Runner-Up, 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-Lost in 1st Round

Aces: Trying to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time in his career. … A year ago, upset Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the final to end a bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since Rod Laver won all four major tournaments in 1969. (Djokovic is not in the field in New York this time, because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and could not travel to the United States.) … Is a three-time runner-up at majors, including this January at the Australian Open. … First player outside the so-called Big Four of men’s tennis (Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray) to be seeded No. 1 at a major since 2004. … Wasn’t able to play Wimbledon because of a ban on Russian and Belarusian players over the war in Ukraine.

The Draw: Could face No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios in fourth round.

He Said It: “I don’t know how I’m going to feel if I win a second one or third one. That’s my first one, so I’m really happy. Means a lot to me.” — Medvedev, after last year’s U.S. Open championship.

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RAFAEL NADAL

Seeded: 2

Ranked: 3

Country: Spain

Age: 36

2022 Record: 35-4

2022 Titles: 4

Career Titles: 92

Grand Slam Titles: 22 — U.S. Open (4: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019), Australian Open (2: 2009, 2022), French Open (14: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022), Wimbledon (2: 2008, 2010)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-Did Not Play, 2020-DNP, 2019-W, 2018-SF, 2017-W

Aces: Won the Australian Open in January, then French Open in June, first time he’s been halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, and then reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in July before pulling out because of a torn abdominal muscle. … Since leaving the All England Club, has played just one match, a three-set loss to eventual champion Borna Coric on Aug. 17 at a hard-court event in Cincinnati … That all came after he needed to numb the chronic pain in his left foot with injections at Roland Garros. … Bumped up a spot in the seedings because No. 2-ranked Alexander Zverev withdrew from the U.S. Open after tearing ankle ligaments during French Open semifinal against Nadal.

The Draw: Could face Fabio Fognini, who beat Nadal at the 2015 U.S. Open, or 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev in second round.

He Said It: “The last month and a half haven’t been easy.” — Nadal, after his first match back from the abdominal injury.

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CARLOS ALCARAZ

Seeded: 3

Ranked: 4

Country: Spain

Age: 19

2022 Record: 44-9

2022 Titles: 4

Career Titles: 5

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: QF, U.S. Open (2021), French Open (2022)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-QF, 2020-DNP, 2019-DNP, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP

FILE – Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, returns to Tommy Paul of the United States during second round of play at the National Bank Open tennis tournament Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 in Montreal. Alcaraz will compete in the U.S. Open tennis tournament that begins Monday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Aces: Has appeared in seven Grand Slam tournaments during his nascent career, reaching the quarterfinals at two of the past four. … That includes a run to the last eight in his Flushing Meadows main-draw debut a year ago. … Moved into the top 10 of the ATP rankings in April, while still 18, the youngest player to do so since Nadal in 2005. … Flashy play and on-court personality have quickly made him a fan favorite. … Coached by 2003 French Open champion and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.

The Draw: Could face No. 25 seed Coric or 21-year-old American Jenson Brooksby, who took a set off Djokovic at the 2021 U.S. Open, in third round.

He Said It: “It was the first time that I felt that pressure, and I couldn’t handle it.” — Alcaraz, after losing his first match since rising to a career-best No. 4 in the rankings.

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STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Seeded: 4

Ranked: 5

Country: Greece

Age: 24

2022 Record: 46-16

2022 Titles: 2

Career Titles: 9

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Runner-Up, French Open (2021)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-3rd, 2020-3rd, 2019-1st, 2018-2nd, 2017-DNP

FILE – Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Grigor Dimitrov during their match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Tsitsipas will compete in the U.S. Open tennis tournament that begins Monday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Aces: Made his breakthrough to a major final on the red clay of Roland Garros in May 2021 before losing to Djokovic, but other Grand Slam success came on hard courts with semifinal runs at the Australian Open in 2019, 2021 and this January. … Has an all-court game that has not produced strong results in New York. Each of the past two years, bowed out with fifth-set tiebreaker losses, to Alcaraz in 2021, and Coric in 2020.

The Draw: Could face No. 30 seed Max Cressy, an American serve-and-volleyer, in third round.

He Said It: “I see no reason not to get there, because I’m capable with my tennis, I’m capable with my mind.” — Tsitsipas, on whether he is ready to win a Grand Slam title.

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MATTEO BERRETTINI

Seeded: 13

Ranked: 15

Country: Italy

Age: 26

2022 Record: 21-9

2022 Titles: 2

Career Titles: 7

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: RU, Wimbledon (2021)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-QF, 2020-4th, 2019-SF, 2018-1st, 2017-DNP

Aces: Makes return to Grand Slam action after pulling out of Wimbledon before opening match because he tested positive for COVID-19. … Had carried a nine-match winning streak, all on grass courts, to the All England Club and, after last year’s runner-up finish against Djokovic, was a popular pick to contend for a first major trophy. … Was sidelined from March to June because of an operation on his right hand. … As powerful a forehand as there is on tour these days.

The Draw: Could play three-time major champion Murray in third round, Tsitsipas in fourth.

He Said It: “I grew up watching these guys battling and fighting for the big titles. Now I’m the guy that is trying to take the titles away from them.” — Berrettini, for whom two of the past three U.S. Open losses came against Djokovic or Nadal.

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NICK KYRGIOS

Seeded: 23

Ranked: 26

Country: Australia

Age: 27

2022 Record: 31-9

2022 Titles: 1

Career Titles: 7

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: RU, Wimbledon (2022)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2021-1st, 2020-DNP, 2019-3rd, 2018-3rd, 2017-1st

FILE – Nick Kyrgios of Australia serves to Daniil Medvedev during second round play at the National Bank Open tennis tournament Wednesday Aug. 10, 2022. in Montreal. Kyrgios will compete in the U.S. Open tennis tournament that begins Monday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Aces: All of his talent finally produced real dividends in July, when he reached his first major final before losing to Djokovic at Wimbledon. Hadn’t been past a quarterfinal of any Slam prior to that. … Capable of brilliant play, but also of early exits: His straight-set, first-round loss at Flushing Meadows in 2021 dropped his career mark there to 8-8. … Has a case of common assault pending in Australian Court.

The Draw: Plays good pal Thanasi Kokkinakis — the two Australians won the Australian Open men’s doubles title together in January — in first round.

He Said It: “I felt like I belonged, to be honest.” — Kyrgios, after the Wimbledon final.

 

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