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US Open Tennis 2021 Draw: Breaking Down Men's and Women's Brackets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 29, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 24: Novak Djokovic of Serbia practices with Casper Rudd of Norway before the start of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 24, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
TPN/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic's quest for the season-long Grand Slam kicks off Tuesday night at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Djokovic captured the men's crown at each of first three major tournaments of the season. With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer out of the draw, the three top players from the next generation of stars will try to ruin Djokovic's clean sweep of the season's Grand Slams.

Daniil Medvedev appears to have the best chance of ending Djokovic's dominance because of his form on the hard courts.

Ashleigh Barty carries impressive form into New York as the No. 1 seed in the women's singles draw. The Australian won the Wimbledon title, and she has looked strong in the transition into the full hard-court season from the clay and grass in Europe.

Naomi Osaka would be the ideal opponent for Barty in the championship match since it would pit the No. 1 seed against the winner of two of the past three U.S. Opens.

All of the players will face some type of speed bumps to reach their respective finals, but on paper, they are the best bets to land in the championship matches.

The full draw for the men's and women's singles tournaments can be found on the U.S. Open's official website.

              

Men's Singles

Djokovic appears to have a clear path to the quarterfinals.

The No. 1 seed kicks off his U.S. Open title run against 18-year-old Holger Rune, who is viewed as one of the top teenagers in the men's game. It will be a nice spot for Rune to showcase his game, but Djokovic's overall quality should overwhelm him Tuesday night.

Alex De Minaur, Aslan Karatsev and David Goffin are the seeded players in Djokovic's section of the draw. None of them should be viewed as major threats to his Grand Slam quest.

Matteo Berrettini resides in the section beneath Djokovic. If he reaches the final eight, he could hand Djokovic the first of three possible tests from top-six seeds.

Djokovic's title quest comes down to how well he deals with the first two of his three potential showdowns with the best players of the next generation. That would help him preserve energy for a potential final showdown with Medvedev.

Alexander Zverev is Djokovic's projected semifinal foe. He reached the U.S. Open final last year after Djokovic was disqualified, and he carries a ton of confidence after winning the Cincinnati Masters.

Djokovic owns a 6-3 head-to-head advantage over Zverev in his career, but the fourth-seeded German did beat him at the Tokyo Olympics. If anything, Zverev will be playing with a ton of confidence, but he is still looking for his first Grand Slam triumph.

The same can be said about Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reside on the bottom half of the bracket.

Medvedev reached the U.S. Open final in 2019 and was a semifinalist in 2020. He also made it to the championship match at the Australian Open earlier this season.

The No. 2 seed's hard-court form makes him the ideal challenger for Djokovic from a fan perspective. He is 3-5 all-time against Djokovic, and two of those defeats came at major tournaments.

Medvedev appears to be in the best possible form to get over the hump and win his first major after his title run in Toronto and semifinal trip in Cincinnati. He is the alternative pick to Djokovic to win the men's title.

                 

Women's Singles

You can't help but dream of a Barty-Osaka title match.

Barty is the best women's tennis player in the world, and she won her tune-up event in Cincinnati. Barty carries a 14-1 record against top-20 players this season into New York. That number should make her the favorite in the eyes of many prognosticators.

The Australian should have a fairly easy path to the fourth round. She could face American Jennifer Brady in the round of 16. Brady broke through on the major scene with a semifinal appearance in New York last year, and she backed that up with a runner-up performance in Australia.

Brady will be the toughest opponent Barty faces in the first four rounds, and the matchups will only get more difficult after that.

The semifinal and final could be a gauntlet for Barty to get through. One of Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu may await in the semifinal round.

Pliskova lost to Barty in the Wimbledon final and reached the U.S. Open championship match in 2019. Andreescu won the tournament in 2019, and Kvitova is a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist on hard courts.

Osaka's path to the final is littered with tough matchups as well. Angelique Kerber or Coco Gauff could be the No. 3 seed's fourth-round foe. To some, that may be viewed as the most difficult hurdle to get over.

Second-seeded player Aryna Sabalenka has not been a major contender at Grand Slams, and French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova could be viewed as a bit weaker on hard courts.

If Barty and Osaka make up the dream final, it could be a fairly even match. Barty and Osaka are tied at two matches apiece after their four head-to-head meetings.

Barty would have the edge on form, but Osaka is a two-time winner in New York, and that experience should give her the slight advantage needed to beat the top seed.