Novak Djokovic I Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

A WEEK AGO at the Cincinnati Open, Novak Djokovic and the heir to his throne, Carlos Alcaraz, played a final for the ages that underscored how intense their rivalry has become and served as an appetiser for the US Open, which began last night.

Djokovic prevailed in a three-set classic and the two have split Grand Slams this year, Djokovic winning the Australian and French Opens to take his overall tally to 23 and overtake Rafael Nadal as the Grand Slam GOAT. He defeated Alcaraz at the French Open after the young Spaniard struggled with injury, however, the 20-year-old wunderkind struck back at Wimbledon.

Now, it’s all set up for the two to resume their clash-of-eras battle at the US Open, a tournament played in the late summer heat that often features drunken and unruly crowds. It’s the perfect cauldron for the two to fight it out, although world no.3, Daniil Medvedev, will try to spoil the party. Here’s a look at what to look out for at this year’s tournament.

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic I Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Who is the favourite to win the US Open?

Alcaraz is the number one seed and the defending champion. He is the most exciting player in a decade and the first to break the big three of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal’s stranglehold on the sport. The fact that Djokovic is still close to his prime as Alcaraz enters his is a rare thing in sports. Of course, the Djoker will be buoyed by his win at Cincinnati and be out for revenge after his Wimbledon loss. The Serb saves his best tennis for grand slams and is incredibly tough to beat over five sets. But as Cincinnati shows, Alcaraz has his attention.

“This was one of the most exciting matches I’ve ever played in any tournament,” Djokovic said during the postmatch trophy presentation. “It felt like a Grand Slam. You never give up, do you? I love that about you. I hope we meet in New York. That would be fun—well, for the fans, not for me.” Djokovic began his campaign with a straight sets victory over Alexandre Muller overnight. The victory guarantees the Serb will reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from Alcaraz following the US Open.

Apart from Alcaraz and Djokovic who else might win the US Open?

Well it won’t be world No. 4 Holger Rune, who was defeated in a shocking upset at the hands of the No. 63 seed Roberto Carballes Baenaover overnight.

Medvedev, who won here in 2021, will also challenge for the title. In a press conference before the tournament kicked off, Medvedev graciously acknowledged the growing rivalry between Djokovic and Alcaraz but said he’d do his best to make it a three-man race.

“I think it’s great for tennis that we have these two guys playing against each other right now. I say, it’s a great story, but then the tournament starts and hopefully we can—when I say ‘we’, me personally or someone else—we’re going to try to beat them and stop them from playing each other. The goal is, after this US Open, that we talk about me, so I’m going to try to do it,” Medvedev said.

Who is favoured to win the women’s tournament

World no.1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek is on a heater right now. After holding the top spot in the rankings for well over a year and winning her fourth Grand Slam at the French Open, the Pole starts as favourite at Flushing Meadow. Swiatek has already won three events this year, and reached the finals in two other tournaments. Her main challenge will come from no.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, fourth-ranked Elena Rybakina and sixth-ranked Coco Gauff.

Which Aussies are playing in the US Open?

While Nick Kyrgios is missing the tournament through injury, there are 15 Aussies competing, with Alex de Minaur the best bet to make a second-week run.  

When are the finals of the US Open?

The tournament began on August 28, with the women’s final on September 9 and the men’s on September 10th.

Where can I watch the US Open?

The US Open is broadcast on the Nine Network and Stan Sport, with coverage starting from 1am AEST.


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