Roundtable ATP Predictions for the 2022 U.S. Open

The 2022 U.S. Open is very interestingly poised on the men’s side. There are two obvious favorites but they have question marks around mentality (Medvedev) and injury (Nadal). Then there are other dark horses who could win their first major but lack experience, form, or even the ceiling required. So, the Popcorn team sat down and shared who we thought would win the title. As expected, most went for Medvedev or Nadal, but there were a few surprise names thrown out there. Here, a few of us share why we’ve made the title picks that we have.

Rafael Nadal

This is probably the safest pick given Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal. However, I think Rafael Nadal has the draw to work his way into some form. The biggest obstacle between him and a 5th US Open title is his own body. Returning from an abdominal injury is not easy, especially for someone like Rafa who has spent time beefing up his serve. Rafa isn’t in the best form. He just suffered a loss to the eventual Cincinnati masters champion Borna Ćorić. But he wasn’t in spectacular form in 2017, and he won the title that year. Plus, none of his fellow top-10 seeds are in the best form either. Rafa has perfected the craft of using his B or C game until he needs to raise his level. I think this can be another one of those instances. –Ashlee Woods (@ashleemwoods)

Nadal with the U.S. Open trophy in 2019. Screenshot: U.S. Open

Daniil Medvedev

The defending champion. The world number one. A player who loves the summer North American hard court swing more than any other. In my mind, Daniil Medvedev cannot be favored enough. He’s coming in with a title, a loss to Kyrgios (who can beat anyone on the rare day he’s on) and Tsitsipas, who is proving to be his closest rival. The conditions suit his powerful serve and baseline game, and as he has proven best of five gives him the time to adapt to any opponent who initially takes the lead. His draw is decent, he should beat any player until the quarters, where he faces a tough test in Felix Auger-Aliassime (who had match point against him in Melbourne). But this is New York, and Daniil prevailed easily against him last year. His next projected opponents Tsitsipas (never made it past the third round in New York) and Nadal (questions over his fitness) may not get there, and if they do, I’d still pick Medvedev to win. Finally, I believe the title in Los Cabos fixed something for him. It broke a run of five final losses, including the agony of his Australian Open defeat. Back in his favourite part of the year, the little kid may start dreaming again. –Danny Richardson (@Emmagoatcanu)

Cameron Norrie

Just to shake things up a little, I’m going with Cameron Norrie to win this year’s U.S. Open, even though he’s never gone beyond the third round since his debut in 2017. A bold prediction governed by my heart rather than my head, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Since winning his first ATP title in Los Cabos in July last year, Norrie has gone from strength to strength. He has a huge amount of self-belief, is physically one of the fittest players on the tour and has the ability to grind his opponents down with his unorthodox groundstrokes and dogged determination. He’s having the season of his life, among other things making his top 10 debut and the second week of a grand slam (semi-finals of Wimbledon this summer, no less) for the first time and is constantly knocking on the door in the latter stages of tournaments. Indeed, I would expect him to ease through the opening rounds of his draw in New York before facing a sterner test from the likes of Rune and Rublev, both of whom Norrie has beaten in their last encounter on outdoor hard courts. Things will obviously get considerably tougher in the quarter-finals where he is likely to run into Rafael Nadal and despite having lost to Nadal four times previously I believe that this time Norrie will break through and prevail. Of course with two opponents still to conquer to lift the trophy, it won’t be easy, but with his confidence running high, a little (or lot of) luck and the hunger for a new milestone and maiden grand slam title spurring Norrie on, anything is possible! –Brenda Parry (@BrenParry71)

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz seems a risky choice given that he is in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal. However, there are a few reasons why we should believe in the younger Spaniard. First, the U.S. Open conditions are now super quick, certainly some of the quickest hard courts on tour. Carlos’ ever-aggressive style could benefit from this. He’s been struggling to adjust on his forehand for the past few weeks but maybe on a quicker court he won’t be as inclined to put too much on it because what could be a neutral forehand on clay could still do damage in a rally. Another reason is more intangible: the New York crowd worships Alcaraz, and this is an atmosphere he can thrive in. He’ll still need lots of things to go right for him to take it all the way. He needs to be less erratic on the forehand, serve well and loosen up in the key moments. Alcaraz is potentially more likely to be fitter than Nadal as well and this could give him the edge if they meet in the semi-finals. It’s definitely not too soon to say he could win a major. –Sam (@sogsupreme)

Jannik Sinner

My pick for winning the U.S. Open is Jannik Sinner. He has a difficult path, with the main challenges expected to come from Hubert Hurkacz in the Round of 16 and possibly Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals. However, I think Hurkacz has a tougher set of early round opponents that could see him lose before the Round of 16. Sinner, on the other hand, has won against Alcaraz on both grass and clay this season. He didn’t look great in Canada or Cincinnati but even in the past couple of years, he has looked markedly better in Grand Slams than in best-of-three tournaments. With Darren Cahill now watching over him and a clear improvement in aggression with his forehand since the start of the year, Sinner has all the tools he needs to take that step from a contender to a champion. –Siddhant Guru (@mindsid99)

Stefanos Tsitsipas

So I’m going for Stefanos Tsitsipas to win this year’s U.S. Open. I know it’s a little bit of a left-field pick given the 16 months he’s had since reaching the French Open final but I just have a funny feeling it might be his time. He’s been threatening to win a major for almost four years, since his breakthrough win against Roger Federer at the Australian Open, and has often flattered to deceive. However, I think the time for him to step up is now, and I have a feeling he will do just that. The draw hasn’t been too bad for him, particularly until a possible Fritz quarter-final, and I think his form in the last few weeks has picked up enough to give him an excellent chance should he play Medvedev in the semis, who of course he has just beaten in Cincinnati. Finally, maybe he can even take advantage of the now permitted on-court coaching. So, yes, I’m going for Stefanos Tsitsipas to win this year’s US Open. –John Silk (@TalkingTennisTT)

Ed. note: John made his pick before Tsitsipas’ first-round loss to Daniel Elahi Galán.

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