Will there be another epic showdown between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz at the US Open? And if so, will Alcaraz, the defending champ, prevail? Or, will Djokovic set the Open era Grand Slam record?
Our experts make their predictions as the US Open starts on Monday.
Who do you think will win the men’s singles title and why?
Cliff Drysdale: Jannik Sinner. He joins Alcaraz as the future of the men’s game. Like Alcaraz, he has no weaknesses. Now with a big win under his belt at the Canadian Open, his confidence level will be high. But he has a challenging draw.
Pam Shriver: Djokovic will win the US Open after a few years of huge disappointments and embarrassments. Djokovic showed this year in Melbourne that he thrives to erase poor memories and rewrite more tennis history. Nobody in the men’s game knows how to manage the 3-of-5 set format better than Djokovic.
Alexandra Stevenson: If I had a genie bottle and my genie gave me three wishes, I would pick Djokovic, Alcaraz and Sinner. But for the 2023 US Open, I’m taking Djokovic. He appears relaxed and recovered from winning the Cincinnati Masters. I like his team and preparation.
Alcaraz admitted the Wimbledon win made big changes in his life, and perhaps he won’t have enough to win here. Djokovic is glad to be back in the U.S. He’s not taking anything for granted — and you can’t overlook the team around him. The best thing — he’s keeping the possibility of achieving 24 Grand Slam wins on mute.
Rennae Stubbs: Djokovic. I believe that he will bookend this year with wins in Australia and NYC. Three of four Grand Slam victories this year will solidify him as the greatest player of all time.
Bill Connelly: In one way, it almost feels strange to say this is a two-man race considering we’ve had six different finalists in the last three years and six different champions in the last seven. But it’s clear that Djokovic and Alcaraz are ahead of the pack at the moment. Outside of three matches against each other, they’re a combined 120-15 over the last year, and Tennis Abstract gives them a combined 67% title chance.
Considering how absurdly tight their head-to-head matchups have been, it’s basically a coin toss, but give me Djokovic, if only because he’s less likely to lose before the final. Alcaraz battled attention span issues this summer — seven of his eight matches in Toronto and Cincinnati went the distance — and Djokovic has only dropped two sets to non-Alcarazes in three months.
D’Arcy Maine: Even with the recent superstar ascent of Alcaraz, Djokovic is my pick to win. Having lost the Wimbledon title last month, and being back in New York for the first time since his devastating defeat in the 2021 final, Djokovic will be more focused than ever on winning the title. He hasn’t won the US Open since 2018 and that drought (by his standards, that is) will only motivate him more. Not to mention his comeback performance in the Cincinnati final against Alcaraz last week proved just how fierce of a competitor he remains and how capable he is of beating anyone — including the defending champion.
Alyssa Roenigk: Another Alcaraz-Djokovic final seems as inevitable as a New York summer heat spell. But, for the sake of variety, let’s say it’s not. Let’s say Alcaraz slips up in an exhausting five-setter to Alexander Zverev or Sinner in the quarters and Djokovic loses focus before the final. The 23-time Grand Slam champ could face 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in the semis, who lost in the fourth round here last year as the defending champ and is still looking for his second major victory. The 27-year-old Russian has been great on hard courts this year and will be focused in Queens.
Which men’s player outside of the top 10 could surprise?
Drysdale: Hubert Hurkacz. I like his draw. He also has a solid mentality and excellent results so far this year.
Shriver: Tommy Paul is the outsider with a big chance to have a strong run in NYC. Paul got to the final four in Melbourne and that experience will help him in at the US Open. This year will mark 20 years since an American man won a major. This generation of US men’s players want to erase that drought, and they are pushing each other in positive ways.
Stevenson: I’m always for the physically functional Paul. He could be a surprise in the field. He’s 14 in the rankings for a reason, and he beat Alcaraz in the quarterfinals of the Toronto Masters. Paul’s friend, Frances Tiafoe, just makes No. 10 — and is also surely someone to watch.
Stubbs: Paul. I think he’s been playing some great tennis and he’s in a tough section, but I think the crowd will get behind him and I think he’s going to have a breakthrough.
Connelly: Paul made the Australian Open semis, has reached finals on both hard and grass courts this year, and beat Alcaraz in Toronto (then nearly did it again in Cincinnati). He’s an obvious candidate, but so is Alex De Minaur, who landed in Medvedev’s quarter. The 24-year-old Aussie reached the finals in both Los Cabos (beating Paul in the process) and Toronto (beating Medvedev and Taylor Fritz), and his lone Slam quarterfinal appearance to date came in New York in 2020. This is his best surface, and he’s in excellent form.
Maine: After his three-set victory over Alcaraz in the Toronto quarters, I’m not sure a deep run would constitute as much of a surprise at this point, but Paul certainly could be playing deep into the second week. He reached the semis at the Australian Open to start the year and has played some impressive tennis during the hard-court season this summer. He has a tough road, with Holger Rune as a potential fourth-round opponent and Casper Ruud or Tiafoe in the quarters, but he’s shown he’s more than able to pull off an upset.
Roenigk: It’s hard not to jump on the Paul bandwagon — although I think most of us started chasing after it when he beat Rafael Nadal in Paris and made a run to the semis at the Australian Open, where he lost to Djokovic in straight sets. But little compares to the confidence boosters he experienced this past month in Canada and Cincinnati, at precisely the right time for a run in New York. Paul and Alcaraz have faced each other four times, always on hard courts and never at majors. Paul hasn’t had great success in New York — yet. This could be the year.
Who will win the women’s singles title and why?
Drysdale: Swiatek. She’s technically solid and mentally strong. She also has foot speed and a high confidence level.
Shriver: While Gauff looks poised to win her first singles major based on the past month, I believe Swiatek will figure out how to defend her US Open title. Because of Gauff’s elevated play and two titles in the past month, Swiatek goes into this major as an underdog for the first time in a while, but Swiatek is most experienced at how to deal with the pressure of a major. Gauff’s time will come, but not yet here in NYC.
Stevenson: The women don’t make it easy. There have been 14 different winners of Grand Slams in the last few years. I’m picking Coco Gauff here. She has speed — and Brad Gilbert as her corner man. She grew up on slow courts in Florida. She likes the extra duty balls, and her new team will keep her focused for the win.
Watch out for the serve. If she can keep the toss and her spots — she can take it all. The forehand grip hasn’t been changed — and power into it can hurt her. But Gilbert has raised the forehand — which puts her game in a winning position.
Stubbs: I am favoring Swiatek. It’s a pick ’em with the players right behind her — Jessica Pegula, Gauff and Sabalenka in particular — but she is the defending champion and the ball change suits her a great deal.
Connelly: It is so tempting to pick Gauff, who has found a completely different gear of late (11-1 with two titles since Wimbledon) and recently beat Swiatek for the first time. I’m still going with Swiatek, though. She’s the defending champ, she’s the world No. 1, she’s 70-11 over the last year and she’s still won nine of 11 sets against Gauff, all time. Making the safe choice isn’t as fun, but she’s the safest choice.
Maine: COCO GAUFF. And yes, all caps is completely necessary here. I’ve picked her to win a major title before but it feels like everything has come together for her now. She has had an extraordinary summer on the hard court, winning her biggest titles to date at Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati — including her first win over Swiatek in eight tries during the semifinals — and has a 11-1 record in her three tournaments on the surface. A potential clash with Swiatek awaits in the quarterfinals but she’s proven she has the game to beat her and her confidence is at an all-time high. Someone please cue Alicia Keys because this girl is legitimately on fire right now and seems poised to win her first major in front of an adoring New York crowd.
Roenigk: The headlines change fast in women’s tennis. Heading into Wimbledon, the emergence of a big three — Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina, who have combined to win the previous five Slams — dominated conversation. Then Swiatek lost in the quarters and Rybakina and Sabalenka went out in the semis, and Gauff has emerged as the story of the moment. New coach. Improved forehand. Soaring confidence. When the 19-year-old is focused and playing at her best, as she’s been since losing in the first round at Wimbledon, she is a tough opponent and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. If she plays through Swiatek like she did in Cincinnati, she can take her first Slam in front of a Coco-crazy crowd in New York.
Which women’s player outside of the top 10 could surprise?
Drysdale: Madison Keys. Hope springs eternal. She has a good foundation, huge power quotient and I am a fan.
Shriver: For some reason, picking an outsider to contend to win the last major of the year is difficult. I am going with a sentimental pick who has won a big hard-court title this year and knows what it takes to win seven matches in two weeks. Petra Kvitova could win her third major and first outside of Wimbledon if her huge lefty power game is working. Kvitova will enjoy the milder weather predicted during most of the first week. Kvitova can surprise when she flies under the radar like she is this US Open.
Stevenson: No. 38, and former US Open Champion Sloane Stephens. She’s tough to watch when she doesn’t want to play, but when she does play, watch out! She has brilliance in her game, and with the slow courts who knows?
Stubbs: Liudmila Samsonova. I think she can handle the conditions. She is a great hard-court player and is super dangerous when all cylinders are firing. The heavier balls will be fine for her to hit through, so I think she’s a dangerous floater.
Connelly: It feels like the women’s field gets deeper and deeper at every Slam. Most of the top 10 enters the US Open in reasonably strong form, but no matter where you look, you can still find a long shot. Maybe that means Keys or Belinda Bencic, or maybe it means an unseeded bracket destroyer like Danielle Collins. The 29-year-old has battled injuries and form issues this year, but she did still make the 2022 Australian Open final, and in her last two hard-court tuneups, she’s 6-0 against players not named Swiatek. She took Swiatek to three sets in Montreal, too. The draw might require her to beat both Gauff and Swiatek to make the semis, but at her defiant best, she’s more than capable.
Maine: Former Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady has had great success in New York before, reaching the semifinals in 2020, but had been sidelined for the past two years with injuries. She made her return earlier this summer, and while she hasn’t recorded a ton of wins in her four tournaments played, she’s gotten better with every match and recorded a victory over Jelena Ostapenko in Montreal and pushed Rybakina, the current world No. 4, in three hard-fought sets the following day.
While she’s not exactly a contender to win the title at this point, and is using her protected ranking for entry, she opens play against a qualifier and could challenge likely opponent Magda Linette in the second round. A run of any kind would be a welcome surprise for fans, and prove to her that she’s officially back after an agonizing and emotional stretch away from the game.
Roenigk: I’m leaning into good ol’ recency bias and going with 24-year-old Samsonova. She’s never made it past the fourth round at a major, but has been impressive on hard courts this summer. She lost to Pegula (a candidate for a surprise finals run here!) in a 6-1, 6-0 crusher in the finals of the National Bank Open in Canada — but not before taking down Bencic, Sabalenka and Rybakina in the tournament.