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Predicted route to final for Alcaraz, Djokovic, Swiatek, Gauff and other favourites

Carlos Alcaraz will face Dominik Koepfer of Germany in the first round of the US Open as he attempts to defend a grand slam title for the first time.

The Spaniard became the youngest men’s No 1 ever when he beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 final to claim his first grand slam title.

Since then he has added another, beating Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, and lost and regained the top spot in the rankings, which is once again on the line in New York.

The man most likely to take it from him is Djokovic himself, who will open his campaign against Alexandre Muller. Djokovic has not played in New York since missing out on the calendar slam in 2021, losing to Daniil Medvedev.

He missed last year’s major due to the USA’s policy of not allowing unvaccinated visitors into the country, which was lifted earlier this year.

For the full men’s draw click here and for the full women’s draw click here.

Alcaraz’s predicted route to the title

  • R1: Koepfer (78)
  • R2: Harris (178)
  • R3: Evans (28)/Van de Zandschulp (55)
  • R4: Norrie (16)/Griekspoor (25)
  • QF: Sinner (6)/Zverev (12)/Dimitrov (19)
  • SF: Medvedev (3)/Rublev (8)/Khachanov (11)
  • F: Djokovic (2)

It will be hard for many of Alcaraz’s early matches not to feel like a rehearsal. After an epic final against Djokovic in Cincinnati that lasted nearly four hours in searing heat, which he led by a set and a break only to lose in a deciding tie-break, the Spaniard will have revenge on his mind.

But he cannot afford to overlook a potential quarter-final replay against Jannik Sinner, the Italian who had match point against him last year and has won three of their six professional meetings. Sinner also won their most recent clash in Miami, where conditions are not dissimilar to Flushing Meadows.

Win that and Alcaraz looks virtually guaranteed to face a Russian in the last four, with Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov all posing slightly different but imposing challenges.

Djokovic’s predicted route to the title

  • R1: Muller (85)
  • R2: Zapata Miralles (75)
  • R3: Djere (34)
  • R4: Cerundolo (20)/Auger-Aliassime (15)
  • QF: Tsitsipas (7)/Fritz (9)
  • SF: Rune (4)/Tiafoe (10)/Ruud (5)
  • F: Alcaraz (1)

Back in the US for the first time in two years, Djokovic has cut a very merry figure, clearly relishing his return. It helped that he won the title in Cincinnati, after which he tore his shirt off Hulk-style, as if to underline the superhuman effort required to beat Alcaraz these days.

As such, he will want to conserve as much energy as possible in the early rounds in New York, and the draw looks to have given him the best possible chance of doing so. Even his projected opponents in round four, Francisco Cerundolo and Felix Auger-Aliassime, are pretty woefully short of form.

As such, it may come down to the momentum behind a run to the semi-finals for Frances Tiafoe to give Djokovic a test, but he too lacks form after a first-round defeat in Canada and second round in Cincinnati.

Iga Swiatek’s predicted route to the title

  • R1: Peterson (92)
  • R2: Saville (192)/Ngounoue (531)
  • R3: Cocciaretto (29)
  • R4: Ostapenko (20)/Kudermetova (16)
  • QF: Kvitova (11)/Gauff (6)
  • SF: Rybakina (4)/Azarenka (18)/Muchova (10)
  • F: Sabalenka (2)/Jabeur (5)

Swiatek has had a mini-rollercoaster of a summer, winning a title on home soil in Warsaw before losing to Jessica Pegula in Montreal and Coco Gauff in Cincinnati, both in the semi-finals.

The latter defeat was significant for both women: Swiatek said she felt her “fuel tank was pretty empty” while Gauff snapped a streak of seven consecutive defeats, all in straight sets, against the world No 1.

The Pole did say she was actually glad of the chance to rest before the US Open but she has already played 62 matches this calendar year, and a couple of days may barely be enough to recharge her batteries.

Swiatek should be able to play her way into the tournament with a relatively kind first week but could be given a shock by Jelena Ostapenko. The enigmatic Latvian has a 3-0 head-to-head record against Swiatek, winning six of the seven sets they have played, and on her day can hit anyone off the court.

Coco Gauff’s predicted route to the title

  • R1: Qualifier
  • R2: Andreeva (67)
  • R3: Mertens (32)/Collins (34)
  • R4: Linette (24)/Kvitova (11)
  • QF: Swiatek (1)
  • SF: Rybakina (4)/Azarenka (18)/Muchova (10)
  • F: Sabalenka (2)/Jabeur (5)

As mentioned above, the biggest monkey on Gauff’s back has been shaken off and it’s not just Swiatek losing to her either. The American has won two out of three titles this summer – Washington and Cincinnati – and finds herself among the favourites for the title.

Her second-round match against Mirra Andreeva will be no cakewalk though: the Russian teenager took the first set against her in Paris before fading and the 16-year-old is only getting better.

Come through that early test and it is probably going to be experience rather than youth standing in Gauff’s way: the likes of Petra Kvitova and Elise Mertens know their way around the early weeks of a grand slam very well indeed.

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