After coming up short at the Tokyo Olympics, Novak Djokovic can't become the second tennis player to complete a Golden Slam in a calendar year. However, he could still become the third men's singles player to achieve a calendar Grand Slam.
Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2021, will look to complete the sweep at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Djokovic is a three-time U.S. Open champion, with his most recent win coming in 2018.
Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) are the only men's singles players to have completed a calendar Grand Slam, but Djokovic could soon join them.
In this year's U.S. Open women's singles tournament, Naomi Osaka (Australian Open), Barbora Krejcikova (French Open) and Ashleigh Barty (Wimbledon) will each be looking to win a second Grand Slam title this year. Osaka has won the U.S. Open two of the previous three years, including in 2020.
The 2021 U.S. Open will award a record $57.5 million in prize money. The winners of the men's singles and women's singles tournaments will each receive $2.5 million, while the runners-up will earn $1.25 million.
Here's everything else you need to know heading into this year's U.S. Open.
U.S. Open Odds
Novak Djokovic: -145 (bet $145 to win $100)
Daniil Medvedev: +400 (bet $100 to win $400)
Alexander Zverev: +600
Stefanos Tsitsipas: +800
Andrey Rublev: +2500
Matteo Berrettini: +2500
Ashleigh Barty: +330
Naomi Osaka: +600
Aryna Sabalenka: +1400
Simona Halep: +1600
Barbora Krejcikova: +1700
Iga Swiatek: +1700
Karolina Pliskova: +1700
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Novak Djokovic over Daniil Medvedev in Men's Final
With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal not playing this year, Djokovic will have to face somebody outside of the Big Three if he reaches the final. And it should be a sure thing that Djokovic will make the championship game considering how dominant he's been all year.
The last time Djokovic didn't win a major tournament was last year's U.S. Open, but that's when he got disqualified during the fourth round after unintentionally hitting a line official with a ball. More often than not, though, he's made a deeper run at the event, reaching the final of the U.S. Open eight times from 2007 to 2018.
As long as Djokovic is on top of his game, he shouldn't face much adversity on his path to the final.
Once Djokovic gets there, Daniil Medvedev is his most likely opponent. The No. 2 seed in the men's singles draw, Medvedev reached the U.S. Open final in 2019 and made it to the semifinals last year, but the 25-year-old is still seeking his first Grand Slam title.
This will be a rematch of this year's Australian Open final, which Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Expect a similar result when the two go head-to-head again at the U.S. Open.
Djokovic may not have won an Olympic medal this year, but he's poised to bounce back on the hard courts in New York. He will defeat Medvedev in three or four sets to capture his fourth career U.S. Open title and complete the rare calendar Grand Slam.
Naomi Osaka over Karolina Pliskova in Women's Final
Osaka's four career Grand Slam titles have all come on hard courts (two at the U.S. Open and two at the Australian Open), so this has clearly been her best surface. With plenty of attention on the 23-year-old, it's time for her to play well at a court where she's been more than comfortable.
It's been an eventful year for Osaka since she won the Australian Open in February. She chose to not speak to the media at the French Open and then withdrew from the tournament after only one match. She skipped Wimbledon and hasn't won a tournament since returning to action.
But that will change in New York, where Osaka will be the No. 3 seed. There have been some surprise results in women's tennis this year, but this outcome won't shock anybody.
On the other side of the bracket, Pliskova will continue her strong year, which included an appearance in the Wimbledon final. She's the No. 4 seed at the U.S. Open, where she's reached at least the quarterfinals three times, including when she made it to the final in 2016.
While Pliskova has never won a Grand Slam, she's had her best showings in major tournaments at the two that are played on hard courts. She will upset No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals and then take on Osaka, whom she hasn't played in 2021.
However, Pliskova will come up short. Osaka will win the final in straight sets, capturing her fifth career Grand Slam title and her third U.S. Open championship in four years to continue her recent dominance at this event.
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