The US Open

Aug 24, 2023, 12:39:14 AM | by Craig Gabriel

The final major of the year is about to start and the US Open promises to be exciting as focus shines on Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic writes Craig Gabriel.


It’s been two years since Novak Djokovic set foot in the Bille Jean King National Tennis Centre let alone the Arthur Ashe Stadium and it’s been five years since the won the US Open. The last time he reached the final was 2021 and he came within one match of winning the coveted Grand Slam, losing the final that year to an inspired Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic goes into the Open feeling pretty solid about his chances. He is coming off an incredible victory in Cincinnati where he saved championship point to beat Carlos Alcaraz in the final. By reaching the final in Cincy, Alcaraz was able to hold on to the world No.1 ranking making the defending champion the top seed, as he was at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and would have been at the Australian Open had injury not forced him to withdraw.


However, the No.1 ranking is on the line because Djokovic has nothing to defend in New York and Alcaraz has all those winner points to defend. These two along with Medvedev are the only three players among the seeds to have won the US Open men's title.

It just seems, on the men’s side Carlitos and Nole have consumed the limelight from everyone, the men’s and the women’s. So-called observers feared that the retirement of Roger Federer and the injury sidelining of Rafa Nadal would take the shine off the sport. How amusingly wrong they have proven to be.

The fascination of this developing rivalry was on high alert in Cincinnati as they played one of the most extraordinary three set matches in the final where both men saved those championship points. Djokovic saved one in the second set tiebreak and Alcaraz saved four in the final set before sending a crosscourt forehand wide.

Across the highway from the tennis facility is an amusement park and the rollercoaster these was not a patch on the turns and twists of this final.

“Jesus Christ man, you never give up,” Djokovic exclaimed which brought roars of laughter. “I am Spanish, we never give up,” Alcaraz replied laughing. It was a brilliant moment.

The mutual respect is terrific as an age gap of nearly 16 years separates them.


But while the focus is obviously on these two guys, let’s not ignore so many others who also have extraordinary chances to go all the way. We can say two in particular are enormous threats and they are Medvedev and Jannik Sinner who won the biggest title of his career with the Canadian Open.

Daniil can have a rocky relationship with the crowd, but you can bet the tennis he plays and the exchanges he engages in is highly entertaining and having won the title before as well as having reached another final in New York, stands him in good stead to be a contender. As he put it: “I’m a hard-court specialist.”

Sinner was outstanding in Toronto, and now he has had the time to rest after such an important win for his career. He has the monkey off his back having lost three Masters 1000 finals previously and there is greater self-belief for the highest levels of the tour. 

“For sure, it's a good confidence boost, no? especially going into the US Open. Let's see what positive things can give me this win. I feel like for sure the confidence is going to be a little bit higher, but also my expectations are going to be higher,” Sinner said.

It is a rich field to choose from because one has to keep in mind the likes of last year’s finalist Casper Ruud, and new world No.4 Holger Rune and then there is Alexander Zverev, a former runner-up, and Stefanis Tsitsipas and don’t forget the capabilities of Alexander Rublev.

Some will say it’s wide open, maybe a better description would be to say there are so many exciting prospects that it will make the tournament even more fascinating.


On the women’s side of things, it will be curious to see how the much-hyped rivalry between defending champion and top seed Iga Swiatek, world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina evolves and if it actually does at the Open. Here too the No.1 ranking could have the potential to change hands.

Swiatek has not won anything of consequence since the French Open and Wimbledon was a disappointment, but she is definitely going to bounce back in New York. It was a similar situation last year with her and she went on to win the title.

While Sabalenka and Rybakina should pose the biggest threat, there looming is also the Wimbledon winner and surprise packet Marketa Vondrousova. If she can do what she did on grass, a surface she was totally not at ease on before this year, then the Open is in her reach.

The American fan base will be hoping for big things from Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz along with Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff and from that group Pegula doesn’t quite seem to be the most convincing. She has never gone past the quarters at any major and only reach that stage once at the US Open.

The next two weeks at the last major of the year we know for sure the crowd will be boisterous, matches will go incredibly late and night matches will gift us memorable moments. And it will likely be a thriller.