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Who are the favorites in the men’s bracket at the 2022 US Open? Nadal, Medvedev, Kyrgios...

Rafael Nadal will be the favourite to win his third major title of the season in New York in the absence of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Alex Zverev.

Pretenders to the throne but Nadal remains the man to beat

The US Open men’s draw in will not feature Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, while world number two Alex Zverev is also out as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury picked up against Rafael Nadal during the semi-finals at Roland Garros. Fan favourite and 2016 semi-finalist Gaël Monfils is also missing and as such, the field of favourites for the 2022 title at Flushing Meadows is a fairly narrow one. The women’s game often throws up unexpected winners – look no further than Emma Raducanu’s crowning in Queens last year or Elena Rybakina’s triumph at Wimbledon a few weeks ago - the ATP has been a largely closed shop since 2003, when the Swiss maestro appeared on the scene. The “big three” have swept the vast majority of the majors over the past two decades.

The list of players to have won a Grand Slam in which at least one of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have played is not long: Andre Agassi, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick (all 2003), Gastón Gaudio (2004), Marat Safin (2005), Juan Martín del Potro (2009) Andy Murray (3), Stan Wawrinka (3), Marin Cilic (2014), Dominic Thiem (2020) and Daniil Medvedev (2021).

Medvedev’s record in New York

The Russian is the defending champion in New York and the world number one but he has not been in exceptional form in 2022, landing just one tournament title in Los Cabos while working against a backdrop of niggling injuries and a ban from competing at Wimbledon on the basis of his nationality. However, the towering Moscow-born player is 9-2 at Grand Slams this year having reached the final of the Australian Open – his fourth major final – and in his last three appearances at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center he has been a finalist, a semi-finalist and champion.

However, it is difficult to look past Nadal for the identity of this year’s winner. The Spaniard has statistically not been beaten in New York since 2016 – in 2018 he retired injured during a semi-final against Juan Martín del Potro – having not played since 2019, when he beat Medvedev in five. In 2017 Nadal swept Kevin Anderson aside to claim his third US Open title and if he is victorious this year he will join Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and Federer on a record five titles in the Open Era. The Spaniard is not 100% fit as he is carrying an abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon before a semi-final against Nick Kyrgios, but then he rarely is 100% fit and that did not prevent him from snapping up the first two slams of the season in Melbourne and Paris.

Slam winners in the draw but contenders come from Next Gen

There more Grand Slam winners in the draw including former US Open champions Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem among them, but the Scot is in the twilight of his career and faces 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in round one while Thiem recently returned to the Tour after a year out with a wrist injury. Cilic will always be dangerous on a fast surface and reached the semis at Roland Garros, suggesting the big-serving Croatian will improve on his first-round showing from last year. Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka is also back in the draw for the first time since 2019 but is currently ranked 288 after a lengthy layoff following foot surgery.

Among the contenders for a maiden Grand Slam triumph Nick Kyrgios, Carlos Alcaraz and Borna Coric stand out. The combustible Australian reached a first major final at Wimbledon and had Djokovic on the back foot before an almost inevitable implosion, and he has been in good form in the build-up, winning the singles and doubles titles in Washington and beating Medvedev at the Canadian Open. As ever, the world number 26 will be a dangerous outlier and he is arguably the best player outside the top five seeds.

Coric and Alcaraz on collision course

Alcaraz rose to prominence at last year’s US open with a run to the quarterfinals and matched that at this year’s Roland Garros after becoming the first player in history to beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back on clay at the Madrid Open. Seeded fourth, the Spaniard may face Coric in the third round and the winner of that can be expected to go deep in a section of the draw that throws up veteran Cilic as a possible fourth-round opponent and eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the quarters.

Coric won the Cincinnati Masters to limber up for the final slam of the season and beat an impressive list of opponents in doing so (US Open seedings in brackets): Nadal (2), Roberto Bautista Agut (16), Felix Auger-Aliassime (6), Cam Norrie (7) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (4).