2016 US Open Draw: Complete Bracket Analysis and Review

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett@@merlisaFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2016

2016 US Open Draw: Complete Bracket Analysis and Review

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    Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning the  2015 U.S. Open.
    Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning the 2015 U.S. Open.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The 2016 U.S. Open arrives with No. 1 on the line for the women and men in the tournament.

    Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza will battle for the WTA Tour's No. 1 ranking. Meanwhile, Andy Murray could overtake Novak Djokovic in the singles race for most ranking points earned this year.

    The quest for No. 1 gets underway Monday, August 29, and the path to retaining or gaining the top spot seems easy for some and rocky for others. 

    Williams drew 2014 U.S. Open semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. Yikes! Makarova reached a career-high No. 8 last year. Will she catch a rusty and weary Williams at just the right time?

    Kerber's bid to wrest the No. 1 ranking from Williams will be easier than it was in Cincinnati, where the German came up one match short at the Western & Southern Open. Kerber starts the tournament with a 480 points advantage over Williams and a dream draw. 

    While it's never a given as to where upsets might upend top seeds, Djokovic's draw looks brutal, especially when compared to Murray's rather pedestrian path. 

    Djokovic will want to end Murray's red-hot summer. The British No. 1 has won 22 of his last 23 matches and is the only player to reach the final in all the Grand Slams this year. 

    So let the race for No. 1 begin. The following is everything you need to know in the complete bracket analysis and review for the 2016 U.S. Open.

Top Seeds

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    Andy Murray hits a forehand at the 2016 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
    Andy Murray hits a forehand at the 2016 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Men

    1. Novak Djokovic
    2. Andy Murray
    3. Stan Wawrinka
    4. Rafael Nadal
    5. Milos Raonic
    6. Kei Nishikori
    7. Marin Cilic
    8. Dominic Thiem
    9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
    10. Gael Monfils 
    11. David Ferrer
    12. David Goffin
    13. Richard Gasquet
    14. Nick Kyrgios
    15. Roberto Bautista Agut
    16. Feliciano Lopez

    Women

    1. Serena Williams
    2. Angelique Kerber
    3. Garbine Muguruza
    4. Agnieszka Radwanska 
    5. Simona Halep
    6. Venus Williams 
    7. Roberta Vinci
    8. Madison Keys
    9. Svetlana Kuznetsova 
    10. Karolina Pliskova
    11. Carla Suarez Navarro
    12. Dominika Cibulkova
    13. Johanna Konta
    14. Petra Kvitova
    15. Timea Bacsinszky
    16. Samantha Stosur

Men's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Novak Djokovic hits a backhand at the 2016 Rogers Cup.
    Novak Djokovic hits a backhand at the 2016 Rogers Cup.KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/Getty Images

    Novak Djokovic (No. 1) 

    Djokovic opens the tournament against the underachieving Jerzy Janowicz. A 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, Janowicz once reached a career-high No. 14. But since then, the 6'8" big server has slipped to No. 228. 

    In the second round, Djokovic could face another tall order in Jiri Vesely. The 6'6" Czech beat Djokovic in the second round at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Gasquet or big-serving John Isner are potential fourth-round opponents.

    2014 U.S. Open champion Cilic is Djokovic’s projected quarterfinals opponent. And then there’s Nadal, who could be waiting in the semifinals.

    Stan Wawrinka (No. 3) 

    Wawrinka's quest for a third Grand Slam title gets off to a difficult start against Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco upset Nadal in the first round of this year's Australian Open. A possible second-round matchup includes Dennis Kudla, then Wawrinka has a potential third-round encounter with teen standout No. 27 Alexander Zverev. 

    Kyrgios looms in the fourth round, and Thiem could be waiting in the quarters. If he manages to clear those hurdles, Wawrinka could face Murray in the semifinals.

Men's Favorite with an Easy Draw

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    Andy Murray hits a running forehand during a match at the 2016 Western & Southern Open.
    Andy Murray hits a running forehand during a match at the 2016 Western & Southern Open.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Andy Murray (No. 2) 

    Murray's having the best season of his career, and it got even better with this draw. The Press Association (via the Warrington Guardian) called it a "tasty" draw.  

    He starts against the pesky but manageable Lukas Rosol. Murray has a 23-4 record against the potentially tricky players—Nishikori, Lopez and Grigor Dimitrov—in his quarter of the draw.

Women's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Serena Williams hangs her head during a third-round loss at the 2016 Olympics.
    Serena Williams hangs her head during a third-round loss at the 2016 Olympics.Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Serena Williams (No. 1) 

    If Serena Williams is to win her 23rd Grand Slam title and set a new record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1, she's going to have to survive the toughest draw among the top-seeded women.

    Williams opens with Makarova, a U.S. Open semifinalist and gold-medal winner in doubles in Rio de Janeiro. Williams could get 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur in the fourth round and Halep in the quarterfinals.

    Williams' half of the draw is packed with potential upset alerts, including her sister Venus, current aces leader and Western & Southern champion Pliskova , and No. 4 Radwanska.

    Garbine Muguruza (No. 3) 

    When Sloane Stephens withdrew from the tournament with an injury, she left a seed open for Olympics darling Monica Puig, who landed in Muguruza's draw. Puig upset Muguruza in Rio.

    Muguruza, 1-3 in her career at Flushing Meadows, is in Kerber's half of the draw but has to get through a quarter that includes Keys, Konta, Belinda Bencic, Coco Vandeweghe and 2004 U.S. Open winner Kuznetsova.

Women's Favorite with an Easy Draw

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    Angelique Kerber hits a backhand during the 2015 U.S. Open.
    Angelique Kerber hits a backhand during the 2015 U.S. Open.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Angelique Kerber (No. 2) 

    If you had to put together a team of inconsistent and unpredictable players, Kerber's draw would make a good roster.

    In the first round, Kerber faces No. 116 Polona Hercog, who is 16-22 this season and has lost four of the last six matches she's played. Kerber could get Alize Cornet in the second round and then Shelby Rogers in the third.

    Rogers had a breakout tournament at the French Open, where she reached the quarterfinals. However, she's 1-6 since Roland Garros. 

    The first real test for Kerber probably won't happen until the fourth round, where she might meet two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova. Vinci, is the projected quarterfinals opponent. If she makes it to the semis, she'll likely play Muguruza or Keys. 

Outlook for the American Men

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    Mike Bryan, Jack Sock, John Isner and Bob Bryan pose before a Davis Cup match against Australia.
    Mike Bryan, Jack Sock, John Isner and Bob Bryan pose before a Davis Cup match against Australia.Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

    Last week, Steve Johnson replaced John Isner as the No. 1-ranked American male player. Like Isner, Johnson is a product of a distinguished NCAA tennis career.

    Johnson and Isner are the status quo, solid players expected to put on a good show but never win a Grand Slam. Jack Sock, 22, hovers somewhere between put-up-or-shut up and "he's still got time." 

    American men's tennis has gone from slim pickings in the immediate post-Andy Roddick era to uncertainty today. 

    Team USA might gain some clarity early on. America's future takes on its present in the first round. Isner opens against Frances Tiafoe—an 18-year-old with promise. Tiafoe's rival, 18-year-old Taylor Fritz, opens against Sock.

    Sam Querrey is seeded No. 29 and is coming off a magical Wimbledon run to the semifinals. He opens against Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

    Johnson may be this country's best hope, but he could face Juan Martin del Potro in the second round. Oh say can you see the second week? Probably not.

Outlook for the American Women

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    Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Madison Keys join coach Mary Jo Fernandez (far right) at a 2015 Fed Cup tie in Australia.
    Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Madison Keys join coach Mary Jo Fernandez (far right) at a 2015 Fed Cup tie in Australia.Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

    On paper, the American women look strong. But you could have said the same thing about the team that traveled to Rio to play in the Olympics. Even with three players in the top 10, including No. 1 Serena Williams, the Americans came away without any medals in singles.

    They should fair better on the faster courts at Flushing Meadows. Keys, who reached the bronze-medal round in Rio, has a manageable draw and the good fortune of landing on the opposite side of the draw from Williams.

    Vandeweghe, with her big serve, is always a threat. But as usual, America's best chances rests on the Williams sisters' rackets. Venus Williams has the easier draw; however, with her age and health issues, any hot summer tournament will be tough.

Must-See First-Round Matches

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    Fernando Verdasco and Stan Wawrinka shake hands after a match at the 2016 Aegon  tournament.
    Fernando Verdasco and Stan Wawrinka shake hands after a match at the 2016 Aegon tournament.Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

    Men

    • Andy Murray (No. 2) vs. Lukas Rosol
    • Stan Wawrinka (No. 3) vs. Fernando Verdasco
    • Milos Raonic (No. 4) vs. Dustin Brown
    • Gael Monfils (No. 10) vs. Gilles Muller 
    • John Isner (No. 20) vs. Frances Tiafoe 

    Women

    • Serena Williams (No. 1) vs. Ekaterina Makarova
    • Simona Halep (No. 5) vs. Kirsten Flipkens
    • Coco Vandeweghe vs. Naomi Osaka 
    • Lucie Safarova vs. Daria Gavrilova 
    • Yulia Putintseva vs. Sabine Lisicki 

Wild Cards to Watch

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    Monica Puig serves during the gold-medal match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
    Monica Puig serves during the gold-medal match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

    Monica Puig

    Puig became an overnight hero when she won Puerto Rico the nation's first Olympic medal. Puig upset Muguruza and Kerber en route to the gold medal. 

    She withdrew from the Western & Southern Open but resurfaced on a float during a parade in her honor. All eyes will be on Puerto Rico's national treasure when she arrives at Flushing Meadows. Can she parlay her Olympic success into something at the U.S. Open?

    Juan Martin del Potro

    A silver medalist in Rio, Del Potro is perhaps the most dangerous floater in the draw. The 2009 U.S. Open winner dropped out of the top 300 after multiple wrist injuries and surgeries.

    He is ranked No. 142, but after he upset Djokovic and Nadal and nearly beat Murray in Rio, you can bet seeded players are on high alert if the resurgent Del Potro shows up on the other side of the net.

Predictions for the Men's Tournament

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    Novak Djokovic hits a forehand at the 2016 Rogers Cup.
    Novak Djokovic hits a forehand at the 2016 Rogers Cup.KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals

    Novak Djokovic (No. 1) vs. Marin Cilic (No. 6)

    Andy Murray (2) vs. Kei Nishikori (No. 5) 

    Rafael Nadal (No. 4) vs. Gael Monfils (No. 10)

    Dominic Thiem (No. 8) vs. Alexander Zverev 

    Semifinals

    Djokovic vs. Nadal

    Murray vs. Thiem 

    Final

    Djokovic vs. Murray

Predictions for the Women's Tournament

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    Serena Williams hits a backhand slice during a match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
    Serena Williams hits a backhand slice during a match at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Quarterfinals

    Serena Williams (No. 1) vs. Simona Halep (No. 5)

    Garbine Muguruza (No. 3) vs. Madison Keys (No. 8) 

    Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 4) vs. Karolina Pliskova (No. 10)

    Dominika Cibulkova (No. 12) vs. Petra Kvitova (No. 14) 

    Semifinals

    Williams vs. Radwanska 

    Keys vs. Cibulkova 

    Final

    Williams vs. Keys

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