10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Tough U.S. Open draw for Alcaraz, Djokovic in easier bottom half

The U.S. Open draw was released on Thursday and Carlos Alcaraz will have to do it the hard way if he wants to defend his 2022 title.

At the top of the bracket as the world No. 1 and No. 1 seed, Alcaraz finds himself in a much tougher half of the draw. The 20-year-old Spaniard could have to beat Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals and Daniil Medvedev in the semis just to reach the championship match. Alcaraz’s quarter is also home to Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie, Grigor Dimitrov, Tallon Griekspoor, Stan Wawrinka, and Andy Murray.

Medvedev’s section is similarly stacked with dangerous seeded and unseeded players alike. They include Andrey Rublev, Hubert Hurkacz, Alex de Minaur, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, and Matteo Berrettini.

Novak Djokovic is in a far more favorable spot in the bottom half of the bracket. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz are his projected quarterfinal opponents, while Holger Rune and Casper Ruud are possible semifinal does. Fritz is in decent form but isn’t a real threat to Djokovic; Tsitsipas, Rune, and Ruud are all scuffling at the moment. Rune-Ruud quarter is especially up for grabs and Americans are the most likely candidates to take advantage–specifically Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda, and Ben Shelton.

Here are some U.S. Open first-round matches to watch:

Andrey Rublev vs. Emil Ruusuvuori
Tallon Griekspoor vs. Arthur Fils
Alexander Zverev vs. Aleksandar Vukic
Matteo Berrettini vs. Ugo Humbert
Sebastian Korda vs. Marton Fucsovics
Borna Coric vs. Sebastian Baez
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Mackenzie McDonald
Alexander Bublik vs. Dominic Thiem

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.