US Open 2021: Men’s Contenders: Can anyone stop Djokovic’s pursuit of a Grand Slam?

Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic as he sets out to win his 21st Grand Slam title? Image: Pete Staples

Last year’s US Open tournament at Flushing Meadows was held before no fans in what was one of the first major international sporting competitions held since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Dominic Theim claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the event last year but the defending champion will miss the chance to defend his crown as he continues to recover from a wrist injury sustained in June at the start of the grass-court season.

Further to this, fellow big 3 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will both also miss the US major due to knee and foot injuries respectively.

So who are the contenders to lift the trophy at Flushing Meadows on the Men’s draw?

Novak Djokovic

Can anyone stop him?

While he may have missed out on the chance at winning the coveted Golden slam, falling to Alexander Zverev in the Semi-Final and Pablo Carreño Busta in the Bronze Medal game, the Grand Slam is still well within reach for the Serbian world number 1.

Should he be victorious in New York, Djokovic will become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four grand slams in a calendar year.  Australian Margaret Court (1970) and German Steffi Graf (1988) are the only other players in the Open era to complete the Grand Slam.

Djokovic starts his US Open campaign against Denmark’s Holger Rune and faces a potential 3rd round clash against Aussie Alex De Minaur.

Alexander Zverev

A man in form, Zverev enters the US Open with an Olympic Gold Medal in his back pocket and having won a title in Cincinnati last week, defeating Russian Andrey Rublev in the final 6-2 6-3. The World number 5 is carrying an 11 match winning streak into the major tournament and looks to have his best chance of breaking through for his maiden Grand Slam title.

He will face American Sam Querry in Round 1.

Daniil Medvedev

Whether he’s playing the hero or the villain One thing is for certain, Daniil Medvedev can’t wait to get back in front of the crowd in New York.

After winning the Canadian Open 2 weeks ago and making the Semi-Final’s last week in Cincinnati, Medvedev enters the US Open in the midst of a very good year which has yielded 3 titles already.

He will face veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the first round and faces a potential 3rd round clash with big-hitting Croatian and former US Open champion Marin Cilic.

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Matteo Berrettini

After playing in the Wimbledon final, Berrettini returned to action in Cincinnati after missing the Tokyo games with a thigh injury. The Italian world number 8 is in the middle of a career-best year, reaching the Final at the All England Club and winning titles, including his first ATP 500 title at Queens.

Berrettini will meet Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the first round. Should he progress through to the Final 8 again, a meeting with Novak Djokovic awaits for the Italian as he hunts his maiden Grand Slam title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

The Greek superstar has drawn a blockbuster round 1 meeting with Andy Murray which is set to draw the eyes of many on the opening day of action at Flushing Meadows. Tsitsipas has admitted publicly that this year has been taxing and exhausting, having made deep runs at the Masters’ events in Toronto and Cincinnati, having reached the semi-final at both events. As well as the French Open final where he held 2 sets to love lead and lost and a shock first-round exit at Wimbledon.

The world number 3 has spent time this year having fun imitating Instagram influencer Seth “Dude with a sign”

The Greek has lifted cardboard signs with simple messages for his own Instagram followers, including some cheeky ones that might have revealed a star Australian’s phone number.

Tsitsipas and Seth connected inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Should Tsitsipas make it past Murray and progress, a third-round meeting with rising Brit Cam Norrie could be one of the headline matches of the first week before a potential Quarter-Final with Russian pocket rocket Andrey Rublev.

Casper Ruud

One of the Darkhorses amongst the male field, Rudd has been making an impression with some impressive results on the ATP tour in 2021. Since his first-round Wimbledon exit to Aussie Jordan Thompson, Ruud has gone on to claim back to back to back titles at the Swedish, Swiss, and Austrian Open. He played the event in Cincinnati, reaching the quarterfinal before going down to eventual champion Alexander Zverev.

The 8th seed faces Frenchman Jo- Wilfred Tsonga in the opening round and could meet 11th seed fireband Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round.

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