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Ten athletes to watch at the US Open

Ten athletes to watch at the US Open

It’s time for the last Grand Slam match of the nearly eternal tennis season.

The world’s best players are already in New York to refine their preparation for the tournament, which officially begins on Monday.

An overview of the main points of interest in the Big Apple.

Novak Djokovic, Serbia

The phrase may sound strange, but Novak Djokovic has won the United States Open three times in 2018, 2015 and 2011. In comparison, he has won ten titles in Australia, seven at Wimbledon and three at Roland-Carros.

But it is in New York that he can make history again if he wins his 24th Grand Slam title. She will overtake Serena Williams, who gave birth to her second daughter, and join Australian Margaret Court as the only athlete to win 24 major singles titles.

But the love story between Djokovic and New York was not always easy. The Serb lost six times to Russian Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final.

Last year, the Serb was unable to enter the United States because of his vaccination status.

In 2020, he was disqualified in the fourth round for hitting a linesman’s neck with the ball after losing a rally.

This year, Joker has already won two major tournaments and lost in the final at Wimbledon against a young Carlos Algarz.

We thought we were witnessing a real shift in power, but the 36-year-old hit a straight record in Cincinnati on Sunday, winning an anthology final against a world number one, 16 years younger.

Novak Djokovic gets a hug from Carlos Algarz after winning in Cincinnati.

Photo: Getty Images / Matthew Stockman

Also, a win in the first round would see Djokovic reunite with his world premiership crown. He certainly didn’t intend to stop in the second round.

And one wonders who could back him up if he stays healthy, aside from Algaraz in the finals.

Carlos Algaraz, Spain

The defending champion seems to have a love affair with New York. In two appearances, he won 11 of his 12 games at Flushing Meadows.

The only player to beat him in the quarter-finals in 2021 is Felix Auger-Aliassime. However the Spaniard dropped midway through the second round.

Last year, he doubled. By winning the tournament, he also achieved the world number one ranking.

He hits hard, is lightning quick, and learns to confidently handle important moments in his frenetic 20s.

His matchup with Novak Djokovic has already come to an end thanks to two exceptional battles in the finals at Wimbledon and Cincinnati. In four encounters, both have won two each, and neither has managed to win two in a row.

If they meet in the final, the mathematical order will favor the Spaniard, even if it’s by no means.

Coco Coffee, USA

Despite being ranked sixth in the world, she’s not the highest-ranked American, but the teenager arrives in New York on a roll.

Goff has won three titles in 2023, including two last month, in Washington in July and last week in Cincinnati. Either way, these are the two most important titles of his career, just weeks after a surprise first-round exit at Wimbledon.

Coco Gaff celebrates victory by pumping her fists.

American Cocoa Coffee.

Photo: Getty Images / Matthew Stockman

With this, in Ohio, he defeated world number one Ika Svidek for the first time in his eighth attempt. Until last week she couldn’t tear a single sleeve.

The American tennis prodigy is already playing her fifth major in New York. In 2022, he reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Carros, just months after reaching the final.

He will become the first American since Sloane Stephens in 2017 to receive the top honors.

Jessica Pegula, USA

She is the doubles partner of Coco Goff, who is the third-ranked American player in the WTA.

The daughter of the owners of the Bills and Buffalo Sabers has won her second WTA 1000 title in the finals in Montreal.

Still, at 29, Pegula is looking to earn top honors eight years after leaving the University of Pittsburgh and after his tenure in the NCAA Tournament. She patiently climbed the professional tennis ladder.

There are a few more steps. He hasn’t made it to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, but what he did in Australia and Wimbledon this year and New York in 2022.

Taylor Fritz, USA

He is the ninth-best-ranked American in the ATP rankings, ahead of Frances Tiafoe, 10th, and Tommy Ball, 14th, who advanced to the semi-finals in Australia and Toronto.

In 2022, just months after winning the Indian Wells tournament, all hopes were high for the Californian who landed in New York full of confidence. However, he was defeated in the first round by his compatriot Brandon Holt, a qualified player.

His surprise failure has also been widely documented in the Breaking Point series on Netflix.

He has not reached the second week of a Grand Slam tournament this season, but recently won a tournament in Atlanta, reached the semifinals in Washington and the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

He starts the tournament with a little less pressure than last year.

We’re already slightly regretting wanting to dedicate these lines to 2022 semifinalist Francis Tiafoe.

We will see.

Ben Sheldon, USA

The US Open has not been won by a singles player since Andy Roddick’s title in 2023.

Betting on 20-year-old and 46-year-old Ben Shelton on the ATP would be bold, especially since he hasn’t won a single match in the main draw in New York. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pick up some success.

The former University of Florida Gators announced in August 2022 that he would now focus on professional tennis. His rise meteorites. Last fall, he won three Challengers tournaments in the United States.

In January, he reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. The powerful southpaw recently drew praise from Carlos Algarz in Toronto. The Spaniard said of the American that he had never played against such a hard-hitting player.

Of course, Sheldon’s game needs to be polished. But pushed by an electric crowd like New York, the young man finds ways to live and revive great emotions.

Iga Swiatek, Poland

What would a list of athletes to watch be without the best player on the planet? That’s what we thought.

Poland were favorites to retain their title in last year’s final at the expense of Tunisian Anse Japier.

Everyone smiled and raised the cup.

Iga Swiatek won his third major title.

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/TIMOTHY A. CLARY

At the age of 22, Svidek will be hoping for a 5th Grand Slam title and a second Grand Slam title after his crown at Roland-Carros in 2023.

The hottest player in the world, she has won 53 of 62 singles matches since the start of the year.

The worst finish of the season was losing in the 4th round at the Australian Open. He has five finals this season, including four titles, four semifinals and two quarterfinals.

That’s it.

Arina Sabalenka, Belarus

World number two Iga has won two of her last three duels against Svidek, including their clash at last fall’s WTA Finals.

Sabalenga, who has both good and bad skills on the tennis court, silenced her critics by winning her first major title in Melbourne in January.

He reached the semifinals at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, proof that his powerful game isn’t just for the tough.

Two-time semi-finalists in New York in 2021 and 2022, the 25-year-old is the only athlete to dethrone Svidek from the world No. 1 spot since the US Open.

Ons Jabeur, Tunisia

Nicknamed Minister of Happiness Arrived in New York with a rough preparation in Cincinnati.

The Tunisian, world No. 5, skipped the WTA Tour’s Montreal stop due to a knee injury. In her only tournament, in Ohio, she lost to Arina Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.

Japier is still trying to become the first African player to win a Grand Slam singles title. For the youngest, Kara Black of Zimbabwe won five majors especially in doubles and five majors in mixed doubles.

Zabiur is capable of producing varied and exciting performances in the finals at Wimbledon in the last two seasons and at last year’s US Open, but he is still searching for the solution to winning the finals.

In twelve tournament finals, he has won only four titles.

Daniel Medvedev, Russia

The Francophile Russian was a tough courtier.

He arrived in North America confident, but the world number three was knocked out by Alex Di Minaur in the quarterfinals in Toronto and Alexander Zverev in his second match in Cincinnati.

He already has five titles in 2023, including the Miami title in March. The fiery 27-year-old is enjoying New York, although he is sometimes shouted down by the American public.

Daniel Medvedev gave a thumbs up to the crowd after his win.

Daniel Medvedev advances to US Open final

Photo: The Canadian Press/John Minchillo

After ousting Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals, the big right-hander also lost in five rounds to Rafael Nadal in 2019, beating Novak Djokovic in 2021 as he tries to win a calendar Grand Slam. In addition to achieving four aces in 2020 in a tournament played without spectators.

Along with Djokovic and Alcaraz, he is one of the most serious contenders for the title if he manages not to waste too much energy condemning the quality of balls that are not strong enough for him.