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US Open Tennis 2021: TV Schedule and Predictions for Event's Biggest Stars

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2021

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 31: Novak Djokovic of Team Serbia hits a forehand against Pablo Carreno Busta of Team Spain during the Men's Singles Bronze Medal Match on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty should be the heavy favorites to capture the singles titles at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Djokovic has a wide-open field opposing him in the men's singles bracket. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the other two members of the Big Three, and reigning champion Dominic Thiem are all out of the tournament with injuries.

Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev could all challenge Djokovic, but none have them have conquered him in a Grand Slam final yet.

Barty, meanwhile, has created separation between herself and the top players in the women's singles draw with her play in top-tier matches this season. The women's No. 1 seed is 14-1 against fellow top-20 players in 2021.

Anything could happen over the two weeks in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but Djokovic and Barty have the clear advantages going into New York.

The full TV schedule for the event, which runs from August 30-September 12, can be found on the tournament's official website.

                     

Predictions For Event's Biggest Stars

Novak Djokovic

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 31: Novak Djokovic of Team Serbia hits a backhand against Pablo Carreno Busta of Team Spain during the Men's Singles Bronze Medal Match on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Djokovic has the easiest path to completing a season-long Grand Slam that he could ask for.

Federer and Nadal are always viewed as his top two challengers because of their extensive success at majors, but neither is making the trip to New York.

Thiem, who has a right-wrist injury, will not be there to defend his title. He took advantage of Djokovic's disqualification in 2020 to capture his first major.

Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev are spread across the bracket as the other seeds making up the top four, but not one of them is viewed as a serious threat to Djokovic on the Grand Slam stage.

Djokovic defeated Medvedev in straight sets to win the Australian Open in February, and he took down Tsitsipas in five sets to take the French Open in June despite the Greek taking the first two sets of that match.

Zverev carries the most momentum of the three challengers. He won the Olympic gold medal and captured the Cincinnati Masters title Sunday. However, the fourth-seeded German has only reached a Grand Slam final once—last season at the U.S. Open, when he was part of the bracket that lost Djokovic.

Djokovic is a three-time U.S. Open champion and was on the way to reaching the final in 2020. He won six sets in his first three matches by three games or more before his disqualification for accidentally hitting a line judge with a tennis ball in the fourth round.

Until one of the younger stars proves he can beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam final, the No. 1 seed has to be the predicted winner. And a triumph in New York will make him the outright most successful men's player of the Open Era. 

Prediction: Champion

                     

Ashleigh Barty

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 22:  Ashleigh Barty of Australia smiles and holds the Rookwood Cup after winning the womens championship match of the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio on August 22, 2021. Barty defeated Jil
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The women's Grand Slam circuit has been much more open, with four champions crowned from the past five majors.

Barty won the most recent major, Wimbledon, and she could become a rare champion at consecutive Grand Slams in New York.

Naomi Osaka was the most recent woman to win consecutive Grand Slam tournaments: the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open. Serena Williams was the last woman to achieve that feat in the same season in 2015.

Since 2016, Angelique Kerber is the lone woman to score multiple major wins in a single season.

Barty reasserted her dominance on the women's singles field at Wimbledon. And she won the last hard-court buildup tournament in Cincinnati in commanding fashion, dominating Jil Teichmann in the final.

WTA Insider @WTA_insider

No.1 Ash Barty since returning to the tour after being sidelined for 8 months last year: Yarra Valley Classic 🏆 Miami Open 🏆 Stuttgart 🏆 Madrid Final Wimbledon 🏆 Cincinnati 🏆 And Olympic bronze in mixed. Tour leader in match wins (40) and titles (5). 14-1 vs. Top 20. https://t.co/JuV2IzdRDS

The No. 1 seed produced 40 wins and has gone 5-1 in championship matches this year. Her only loss in a title match came in Madrid.

Osaka, who won the past two U.S. Opens, and 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu are among the top challengers to Barty. Aryna Sabalenka, Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina and Iga Swiatek fill out a star-studded list of the top eight seeds.

The biggest difference between Barty and the rest of the field is her fantastic 14-1 mark versus top-20 players this season. If that form holds up in New York, Barty should run through the field and pick up back-to-back major crowns.

Prediction: Champion