5 talking points ahead of the US Open

Optimism abounds for the host nation but can any Britons spring a surprise at Flushing Meadows?

Andy Sims
Thursday 24 August 2023 10:00 BST
Novak Djokovic, right, beat Carlos Alcaraz in Cincinnati (Aaron Doster/AP)
Novak Djokovic, right, beat Carlos Alcaraz in Cincinnati (Aaron Doster/AP)

The US Open, the final grand slam of the year, begins on Monday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the talking points ahead of Flushing Meadows.

Return of the Djok

Novak Djokovic is back in New York having missed last year’s event because of his Covid vaccination status. Ominously, the three-time winner won his first tournament on American soil since 2021 in Cincinnati last week against defending US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz. Djokovic will be bidding for a 24th grand slam title to move level with Margaret Court’s record haul.

Three is the magic number

Picking a women’s grand slam singles title winner in recent years has been akin to sticking a pin in a list of runners at the Grand National. But a ‘big three’ of sorts has emerged in the shape of world number one Iga Swiatek, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and last year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina. The trio have shown the type of consistency missing from the women’s game since Serena Williams ruled the roost.

The sport that never sleeps

Andy Murray branded late-night tennis a “farce” after his second-round match against Thanasi Kokkinakis at this year’s Australian Open did not begin until after 10pm and finished at 4.05am. Some players also complained about the late finishes at the French Open, while at Flushing Meadows last year Alcaraz completed a five-set win over Jannik Sinner at 2.50am, the latest ever finish at the event. Yet the USTA is sticking with a start time of 7pm for its night sessions despite calls to commence earlier.

The American dream?

The United States have two male players in the top 10 for the first time since 2012, when Mardy Fish and John Isner were ranked nine and 10. Frances Tiafoe’s elevation into 10th placed him two spots behind Taylor Fritz. New York might not get its first home men’s singles champion since Andy Roddick in 2003, but a decent run for either will get the pulses racing on Arthur Ashe.

British hopes not so high

Murray was forced to withdraw from Cincinnati with an abdominal strain, Cameron Norrie has lost four consecutive matches since Wimbledon, Dan Evans – a Washington title aside – has endured a torrid run of defeats and Jack Draper has been injured all summer. Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage complete a British contingent which is not exactly brimming with optimism.

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