The 2017 ATP World Tour has been reminiscent of many past years with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal dominating the season. Leading up to the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, Rafael Nadal is ranked World No. 1 and Roger Federer is ranked No. 3. This year, Nadal also won a historic tenth French Open title while Federer won a historic eighth Wimbledon title and a fifth Australian Open title. Federer has won five total titles this year, despite missing quite a few tournaments. There are many players who have the potential to progress or even win the US Open; some are old favorites, and some are rising stars.
The Big Four are always potential winners, but this year, Federer is the most dangerous. Despite missing the entire clay court season and Cincinnati Masters tournament due to injuries, Federer has maintained a 93.9% win record and has taken down many top ten foes. He has also played his best tennis in Grand Slams, winning two this year.
Nadal also has the potential to win, securing the World No. 1 ranking for the first time in three years. However, just as in years past, he has been struggling to perform at his peak level after the French Open, facing relatively early exists in Wimbledon, Montreal and Cincinnati.
Murray pulled out late on Saturday after the seeding was released due to an injury. Djokovic is also missing the US Open and perhaps much more of the season after his doctor recommended 6-12 weeks to recover from an elbow injury. Stan Wawrinka is also out after undergoing knee surgery.
The rising stars of men’s tennis are also poised to make headlines. Twenty year-old and fourth seed Alexander Zverev recently beat an injured Federer in Canada, perhaps making him a formidable candidate for this year’s trophy. However, he also lost to unseeded Francis Tiafoe in Cincinnati, and Roger Federer easily dispatched of Zverev 6-1, 6-3 in June’s Halle Open. Dominic Thiem, the sixth seed, could also make it well into the second week, but he has faced many early exits to unseeded players throughout the year.
For the top half of the draw, my pick is that Federer makes it to the finals, defeating Nadal in a very close match. Based on his performance throughout the year, he can overpower Nadal potentially for the fifth time in a row. However, his first match against Frances Tiafoe showed how cautiously he was playing. That being said, Nadal leads 23-14 in the head-to-head rivalry. If Federer plays more assertively in later rounds of the US Open as analysts predict he will, he would be in a position to beat Nadal and win his sixth US Open title. Federer’s success in Flushing Meadows also overshadows Nadal, who has only won two titles.
Finalist #1: Roger Federer
As for the bottom half of the draw, my pick is Marin Čilić. Although Čilić played below average in the Wimbledon Final against Federer, Murray’s absence grants him a clear shot at the finals. The Croat has openly admitted his happiness regarding the easy draw that he has received given Murray’s lack of participation in the tournament, and has posted career best finishes in two major tournaments this year. Čilić also won the US Open in 2014.It looks as though he may face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bottom half of his bracket, which could lead to a matchup against the higher-seeded Alexander Zverev. Given the Croat’s abundance of experience at the US Open, he has the upper hand.
Finalist #2: Marin Čilić
Ultimately, my pick is Federer as the 2017 US Open Champion. While Federer may have claimed in recent interviews that, “I am not 25 anymore. I’m not sure I can win three slams in one year. Winning two is already pretty crazy and plenty good enough for me,” he knows that he is aging, he realizes that Murray, Wawrinka, and Djokovic are out, and he knows that Nadal is tired from the French Open and clay court season. He also just easily beat Čilić, who is quite possibly his biggest competitor in this tournament, in the Wimbledon finals and leads 7-1 in their head-to-head record. These factors will make his will to win even stronger. His record this season rivals his glory days in 2004 and 2007, and his opponents know it. Unless he suffers a serious injury or continues to struggle like he did against NextGen star Frances Tiafoe, Federer will fight on and come out victorious.