After much dilly-dallying and fear that the novel coronavirus pandemic may have claimed its second sporting casualty after the Wimbledon, the schedule for the year’s last Grand Slam, the US Open, is finally out.
The men’s and single’s draws were announced on August 28, Thursday. Serb Novak Djokovic, who has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name and is currently the World Number 1, has been named the men’s top seed while lanky Czech lass and world number 3 Karolina Pliskova is the women’s top seed. While the Serb will open his US Open campaign against 107th-ranked Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, the Czech siren will be up against Angelina Kalinina of Ukraine in Round 1.
The Serb will fancy adding to his 17 titles in the year’s last Slam, with Swiss ace Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal pulling out of the tournament. Number 5 seed Alexander Zverev of Russia will meet 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson.
Long-haired Greek Stepanos Tsitsipas, who is considered a top contender for the title alongside Zverev, will run into Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in Round 1.
The men’s draw this year could see the World No. 1 Serb go up against Zverev or the No. 4 seed Tsitsipas in the semi-final.
Austrian Dominic Thiem, currently the World No. 2 and one of the front-runners for the title, has been drawn in a tough group that includes 12-ranked Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, along with former champions Andy Murray and Marin Cilic. Agut has been on a hot streak this year with a run of wins in ATP events, is expected to give top seeds a run for their money.
The 33-year-old Briton, who has three Grand Slam titles under his belt, will be making a comeback after a long injury-induced absence from the game. Still considered in the top bracket of men’s tennis, the Briton will use the big-ticket event as the first step to producing his best tennis.
Veteran Croat Cilic will also be in the running for the title along with fellow big-server John Isner. Though 35 now, the tall American will carry his country’s hopes in the tournament.
Though one of the top draws in the tournament, Thiem lost in the opening round of the Western and Southern Open, a tune-up event for the year’s last Grand Slam.
The third quarter of the tournament features World No. 2 Russain Daniil Medvedev, who will play Argentine Federico Delbonis in the first round.
The top half of the women’s draw will feature No.8 seed Croat Petra Martic and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, alongside Pliskova. While Japanese fourth-seed Naomi Osaka will meet compatriot Misaki Doi in Round 1, 16-year-old American sensation Coco Gauff will open her campaign against 31st-seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia. The teen could set up a repeat of her 2019 encounter with Osaka in the third round.
World No. 3 Serena Williams, along with fellow American top seeds Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens all feature in the third quarter of the women’s draw. The bottom half of women’s draw will feature veteran Venus Williams and Belgian Kim Clijsters, who recently announced a return from retirement. The four-time Grand Slam winner will launch her campaign against 21st seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia.
While Serena, with 23 Slam titles under her belt, will be bidding for another successful run this year, don’t rule out one of her younger compatriots winning a maiden crown at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre this year.
Putting all speculations at rest, the tournament will open on August 31, finally bringing the game’s followers some respite from the virus-induced lull with high-quality Slam action that they had been thirsting for.