Djokovic is big US Open favorite but others have a chance

Flushing Meadows, New York, Aug 30 (efe-epa).- Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in the tennis world, since he arrived in Flushing Meadows, New York, has become the center of attention both on and off the court and will be the man to beat when the US Open 2020 tournament begins here on Monday, given that this year neither last year’s champion, Spain’s Rafael Nadal, nor Switzerland’s Roger Federer are playing.

Djokovic, who will be playing in his 15th US Open, arrived with a 23-0 record for the year, albeit even more strengthened after his Cincinnatti win, and will be seeking his fourth title.

The Serb’s backcourt play and righthanded slams are blistering, his serve has posed no problems for him and each day he develops his “killer instinct” even further, thus making going up against him a nail-biting proposition for any opponent.

“I’m ready to play my best game. Then, we’ll see what happens, although I admit that coming unbeaten to a Grand Slam is always something that give you confidence,” said Djokovic, who on Monday going up against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur.

“My aim is always to win each game and this time will be no exception,” he said.

But on the way to what he hopes is another title, the tennis icon will have to deal with two new factors in international tennis, namely Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fourth seed in the series, and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the fifth seed, who are in the front rank of players, along with Argentina’s ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman, who is his homeland’s best chance for glory, although it is represented by six players in all.

That would not become a possibility until the semifinals, given that in the quarterfinals the big guys for Djokovic to beat will be fellow Serb (and friend) Filip Krajinovic, if Belgium’s David Goffin, the seventh seed, does not show consistency in his game.

But it will be the 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who played well in the Cincinnati tourney until he couldn’t deal with the serve of Canada’s Milos Raonic, who poses the most danger for Djokovic in his run for the trophy.

Tsitsipas said that he feels good with the level of the game he developed during the week of the Cincinnati tourney, but he thinks he needs to insure his hits better with his backhand, adding that he doesn’t think about who he’s going to have as an opponent, with the only thing concerning him being his game, because in the end to become the champion a player needs to win all his matches.

Although Djokovic and Tsitsipas are the big favorites in the upper echelon of the rankings, also in the running will be Spain’s Robert Bautista Agut, 32, who will play in his eighth US Open and who in Cincinnati was in top form with an ever more complete game.

Bautista Agut, the eighth seed, is the best option for Spain this time around, without Nadal in the mix, although the country is fielding nine players. He’s the favorite to reach the semifinals, ahead of Austria’s Dominic Thiem, the second seed, who flubbed his outing in the first round at Cincinnati.

After Bautista Agut – who in the first round will go up against US player Tennys Sandgren, the rival that Djokovic met in the Cincinnati quarterfinals – he could have to deal with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals.

Medvedev, 24, the third seed, could not handle the Spaniard in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, despite going out in front in the first set.

He said that playing against Nadal in the final last year – which he lost in five sets – was the best experience he’s had as a professional after analyzing the game and assimilating what he learned from his Spanish rival so far.

“Now I’m ready to return to make the run of the year on the way to the final and, above all, to play my best tennis,” said Medvedev, who could have to vanquish Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, the sixth seed, in the quarterfinals. “I think I’m prepared for the big challenges that they’re going to present to me during the Open.”

One of those will be British veteran Andy Murray, 33, currently ranked 134th in the world, who will play in his 14th US Open and returns after having undergone two hip operations in three years.

Murray, who won the Open in 2012 and was a finalist in 2008, at the Cincinnati tourney showed that he is starting to play the type of tennis that enabled him to become World No. 1, and he is convinced that the outing at Flushing Meadows will be a big step in that direction.

Murray said that he’s a realist in the whole process of recovery and adaptation through which he must go, but the feelings he experienced during all of last week were good and he’s mentally ready for the new challenge.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the fourth Grand Slam of the season announced that the prize money to be divided among the players will total $53.4 million with $3 million in cash for the champion in both male and female categories, while the finalists will each receive $1.5 million.

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