It’s only a matter of hours now before the US Open gets underway and all the players will be looking forward to put up a good showing at the final Grand Slam of the year. A couple of days ago, the draw came out which featured more than just a few thrilling match-ups. In my previous article, I had discussed about the favorites for the Men’s singles tournament.
The young Austrian will be one of the players to look out for at the US Open
However, when there is a favorite, there is bound to be a dark horse or in this tournament, quite a few given the amount of upsets that have been caused in the last couple of tournaments. With all the players gearing up for the year’s final major, let’s take a look at five of the dark horses for the Men’s Singles tournament at the US Open.
#5. Dominic Thiem
The 22-year old Austrian has had the best year of his career so far, having won four titles in addition to reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros which also helped him enter the Top 10 for the first time in his career. His good run of form has helped him beat the likes of Rafael Nadal (at clay) and Roger Federer.
The eighth-seed will be one of the dark horses for the tournament as given his current form, he could be more than a match for the likes of Murray and Djokovic. Thiem is in section 6 of the draw which will pit him up against last year’s semi-finalist Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals provided he reaches there.
Thiem is bound to have an easy path till the fourth round where he will possibly meet either one of 2009 Champion Juan Martin Del Potro and two-time semi-finalist David Ferrer, with Delpo being the most likely option given Ferrer’s recent drop in form. Nevertheless, Thiem will be expected to at least better his third round finish from last year and will be one of the players to watch out for.
#4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Section 2 of the Men’s Singles draw is one of the most exciting draws of the tournament, containing three players who at least made it to the quarter-finals last year in Marin Cilic, Jo-WIlfried Tsonga and Kevin Anderson.
Tsonga’s performance in his previous two tournaments haven’t been very good but he still poses a big threat to the top ranked players because of his mixed style of play and his ability to bounce back from tough situations.
Tsonga’s opening match of the tournament will be against Argentina qualifier Guido Andreozzi and is bound to have an easy road till the fourth round where he will most likely meet 2014 Champion and seventh seed Marin Cilic in what will be a rematch of last year’s thrilling quarter-final which Cilic won in five sets.
If the ninth seed can be at the top of his game, then he might even better his all-time US Open record of reaching the quarter-finals.
#3. Stan Wawrinka
The Swiss has had a roller coaster of a year so far with semi-final appearances at the French Open and the Rogers Cup being his best performances so far. After disappointing performances at the Queen’s Club Championships and the Wimbledon, Wawrinka reached the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup where he was halted by eventual runner-up Kei Nishikori.
However, he suffered a straight set loss to Grigor Dimitrov in his next competition at the Cincinnati Masters.
Last year’s semi-finalist Wawrinka won’t meet any member of the Big Four before the semis but hasn’t been handed the easiest of matchups as he will be up against two-time quarter-finalist Fernando Verdasco who beat him in the opening round of the Queen’s Club Championships a few months ago.
Even if he beats Verdasco, there is an Alexander Zverev waiting in the third round with Australians Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic being the most probable opponents he will face in the fourth round. If Wawrinka can replicate his performances from last year, then he can surely equal or even better his all-time US Open record of reaching the semi-finals.
#2. Marin Cilic
The 2014 champion will always be a player to be wary of when it comes to US Opens. Having made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at this tournament, Cilic’s performances have been quite impressive which includes a total of two quarter-final appearances and a semi-final appearance.
Cilic will be a heavy dark horse heading into the US Open and his recent victory at the Cincinnati Masters where he beat Wimbledon and Olympic Champion Andy Murray will keep him in high spirits.
The seventh seed has been drawn in the Section-2 and has a relatively easy path to the fourth round where he will most likely meet Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga whom he beat in the quarter-finals last year.
However, a victory against Tsonga will pit him up against defending champion and World No.1 Novak Djokovic. If Cilic maintains his consistent from throughout the tournament, then he will be a player to be wary of.
#1. Milos Raonic
Given his current form, it’s really hard to say whether Raonic is a favorite or a dark horse heading into the tournament.
The tall Canadian has been in magnificent form this year, having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the final of the Wimbledon and having reached at least the quarter-finals of most of the tournaments that he has played so far. Had Raonic not withdrawn from the Rio Olympics due to Zika virus fears then there was a good chance he might have got a medal.
Seeded fifth at the tournament, Raonic has been handed a decent draw with a possible matchup with tenth seed Gael Monfils being the only tough match he might have to play.
However, Raonic’s toughest test will come at the quarter-finals as his expected opponent will be two-time champion Rafael Nadal. However, given Raonic’s form, he is bound to be more than a match for the likes of Nadal, Murray and Djokovic