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U.S. Open draw: Tough one for Alcaraz, opportunity for Tiafoe and other Americans

Novak Djokovic is making his return to the U.S. Open for the first time since 2021 and Carlos Alcaraz has climbed to the top ranking with two major titles in his bag, but the trophy is still more up for grabs than it was during the Big 3 era. Gone are the days when only Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal had a realistic chance of winning every major. Djokovic and Alcaraz are obviously the two favorites, but players like Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, and Taylor Fritz cannot be discounted. 

Here is a breakdown of the 203 draw.

Alcaraz’s quarter 

Alcaraz’s section (and entire half) of the draw is loaded. The world No. 1 is in in a quarter with Sinner, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, and Andy Murray. Fortunately for Alcaraz, it probably won’t get difficult for him until the QFs. That’s because Sinner, Zverev, Murray, and Wawrinka are all in the other half of this section. Murray could get Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, while possible third-round matchups are Zverev vs. Murray and Sinner vs. Wawrinka. 

Best first-round matchup — (24) Tallon Griekspoor vs. Arthur Fils 

Best potential second-round matchup – Andy Murray vs. (19) Grigor Dimitrov 

Best potential third-round matchup – Stan Wawrinka vs. (6) Jannik Sinner 

Medvedev’s quarter 

Medvedev is in the more difficult top half, but his draw is actually pretty good—much better than last year, for example, when he ran into Nick Kyrgios in round four (Kyrgios won in a four-setter). Prior to that disappointment, Medvedev’s three most recent USO results were runner-up, semifinals, and champion. The world No. 3 could face a red-hot Max Purcell in round two, Alex de Minaur (who upset him in Toronto) in the last 16, and Hubert Hurkacz in the QFs. That isn’t a cakewalk, but Medvedev should be able to reach the semis.

Best first-round matchup — (29) Ugo Humbert vs. Matteo Berrettini 

Best potential second-round matchup – Gael Monfils vs. (8) Andrey Rublev 

Best potential third-round matchup – (11) Karen Khachanov vs. (17) Hubert Hurkacz 

Rune’s quarter 

Rune’s section was always the place everyone else wanted to be (compared to that of Alcaraz, Djokovic, or Medvedev at least). With Casper Ruud also there, that is especially the case. Neither Rune nor Ruud is in good form, so the semifinal spot from this quarter is wide open. Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul are the next highest-ranked guys and they both have a great shot at converting. Tiafoe reached the USO SFs last season, while Paul made it to the Aussie Open semis earlier in 2023 and continues to play outstanding tennis. You also can’t discount Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Alexander Bublik, Sebastian Korda, Ben Shelton, and Jiri Lehecka. There is a lot of depth here.

Best first-round matchup — (25) Alexander Bublik vs. Dominic Thiem 

Best potential second-round matchup – Jiri Lehecka vs. (4) Holger Rune 

Best potential third-round matchup – (14) Tommy Paul vs. (21) Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 

Djokovic’s quarter 

Djokovic fans were moaning and groaning about no live stream of the draw to watch, already conspiring about the draw their man would get. Well, it’s safe to say he got an absolutely dream draw with Medvedev, Sinner, and many others in the other half. Djokovic will almost certainly coast into the QFs before running into either Fritz or Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas is the other top-eight seed in this sections and has lots of successful slam experience, but Fritz has been on fire almost throughout this season. The American would have a good chance if he faces Tsitsipas.

Best first-round matchup — (15) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Mackenzie McDonald 

Best potential second-round matchup – Miomir Kecmanovic vs. (9) Taylor Fritz 

Best potential third-round matchup – (7) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. (28) Chris Eubanks 

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