Early predictions: Who will win the US Open?

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Two first-time Wimbledon champions were crowned over the weekend: Marketa Vondrousova became the first unseeded woman to ever win, while Carlos Alcaraz upset seven-time Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic for the title. After an exciting two weeks, is it too early to look ahead to the next major?

No way. Our experts make their early predictions for the US Open:

Who do you think will win the women’s title?

Alexandra Stevenson: The winner is difficult to predict because the women’s side has been so wide open for awhile. Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open, Iga Swiatek won the French, and now Vondrousova won Wimbledon. Each one has a different style of play. If the US Open surfaces the courts with speed, definitely look for a big server.

Bill Connelly: Here are the top five players in terms of the percentage of hardcourt points won over the last year: Swiatek (55%), Vondrousova (54%), Jessica Pegula (53%), Liudmila Samsonova (53%, thanks mostly to a fall hot streak) and Sabalenka (53%). The winners of the last four Slams are in that group, and if we start there and add in the runners-up at the Australian Open (Rybakina) and last year’s US Open (Ons Jabeur), that gives us a pretty good contenders list. I’m going with the defending champ — Swiatek — but one figures that Sabalenka in particular could offer a pretty fierce challenge. She took Swiatek to three sets in the semis despite an iffy serve, and she won in Australia.

Tom Hamilton: It’s all about Sabalenka. Expect the usual suspects to go close — with Jabeur, Swiatek and Rybakina all there or thereabouts, while Elina Svitolina should make the final stages, but Sabalenka can make it a two-Slam year with a triumph in New York. She won the Australian Open and prevailed at Indian Wells, so she has the form. She’ll also feel aggrieved at the way that Wimbledon semifinal loss went against her, so expect Sabalenka to come through to win.

D’Arcy Maine: There is perhaps no one in tennis who wants a major title more than Jabeur and, she has come this close now three times. That’s not enough on its own to get her the elusive trophy, but I do think she will be hungrier than ever and knows what it takes to reach the final in New York. If she were able to replicate her success from 2022 and play in the title match, she won’t have difficulty finding inspiration. Chris Evert and Simona Halep both lost their first three major finals before winning on their fourth try, and Kim Clijsters, who consoled her on Saturday, lost her first four. This truly could be Jabeur’s time.

Alyssa Roenigk: Sabalenka was oh so close to making the Wimbledon final and claiming the No. 1 ranking from Swiatek, but she tightened up in the semis and was overpowered by Jabeur, who was a woman on a mission until the final. Sabalenka’s early-season hard-court performances were outstanding: She won the Australian Open and Indian Wells and could easily take a warmup title or two before New York. Maybe we’re treated to a Sabalenka-Swiatek or Sabalenka-Jabeur rematch late in the second week in New York. If we are, the Belarusian doesn’t lose this time.

Who do you think will win the men’s title?

Stevenson: The men’s winner will be a fight between Alcaraz and Djokovic — maybe throw in Daniil Medvedev. Check the surface of the court. Speed will be good for Alcaraz and Djokovic, and Medvedev will bring his usual calculating game. Who wins? Djokovic will be ready for his own type of a winning revenge.

I’m not choosing — yet.

Connelly: I was always going to go with whoever won the Wimbledon final. Djokovic had a chance to further assert his dominance over the latest generation of talent with a win over Alcaraz, but Alcaraz rope-a-doped the rope-a-dope master — and on grass, no less. There are now two contenders who know what it’s like to beat Djokovic in a best-of-five (Medvedev being the other), and with that final hurdle cleared, the sky’s the limit for the 20-year-old Alcaraz. He’ll face more pressure than ever, but that has only barely gotten to him so far in his young career.

Hamilton: Djokovic will be hurting after losing that epic final against Alcaraz at Wimbledon. Not only did the defeat halt his winning streak on Centre Court, it tanked his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam. So expect Djokovic to be on a revenge mission in New York. He’ll have the likes of Holger Rune, Alcaraz, Frances Tiafoe and Medvedev on his heels, but Djokovic will finish the year on a winning note.

Maine: Did you see what Alcaraz just did against Djokovic in the Wimbledon final? Can you really pick anyone but him right now? Between his unbelievable performance at the All England Club — in just the fourth grass tournament of his career — and what he did last year in New York, the 20-year-old is most certainly the favorite and for good reason. He has the momentum, the confidence and, let’s not forget, the game to win it (again), and I think he’ll do just that.

Roenigk: Let’s assume it will not be Alcaraz or Djokovic, who will be playing to make history. Medvedev heads to the U.S. with a disappointing taste in his mouth from his unimpressive semifinal loss to last year’s US Open champ, Alcaraz, in the Wimbledon semifinal. This year already, the 27-year-old Russian has won four hard-court tournaments (Miami, Rotterdam, Qatar and Dubai) and lost in the Indian Wells final to — yep, Alcaraz. He dipped out in the fourth round last year in New York as the defending champion but looks like a contender for a second title in Queens. He’ll likely have to play through Djokovic or a certain 20-year-old Spaniard, but maybe the third time will be the charm.

Which women’s player outside of the top 10 do you think could make a deep run in New York?

Stevenson: Bianca Andreescu could make a move. Come on, Canada. But let’s also fly the flag for America — and we have Sloane Stephens! Madison Keys could surely bring another run at the Open. Fast courts will help these three ladies.

Connelly: Belinda Bencic is 23-8 in 2023, she looked good at Wimbledon, and her three best Slam runs have all come at the US Open, including a semifinal run in 2019. The 2021 Olympic gold medalist has a lot going for her at the moment, and while she hasn’t been the safest bet in Slams, New York appears to bring out the best in her.

Hamilton: Let’s go with Keys. She did superbly well at Wimbledon to reach the quarterfinals and is hitting top form again. With the home crowd behind her at Flushing Meadows, Keys can trouble those in the top 10 and reach the second week. Do that and the wonderful unpredictability of the sport means she can be there in the final throes of the tournament. I also expect Svitolina to continue her good run of form, while one of the stories of the US Open will be the return of Caroline Wozniacki.

Maine: As always, there are so many who could fit this bill, but Victoria Azarenka is a three-time finalist at the US Open, and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open (where she’s also a two-time champion) earlier this year. She lost in a third-set tiebreak to Svitolina in the fourth round at Wimbledon, and that lingering heartbreak could help fuel her to yet another second week in New York. She has had her best results on hard courts throughout her career and has the experience to make some more magic.

Roenigk: I’m sticking with the feel-good story of the summer, Ukraine’s Svitolina, who returned from maternity leave in April. The 28-year-old gave birth to a daughter in October and was back on tour within six months. At All England, she matched her best performance by making the semifinal round — and knocking No. 1 Swiatek out in the quarters. After losing to eventual winner Vondrousova in the semis, she said the pressure of representing her embattled country is sometimes, “a lot of responsibility, a lot of tension.” She also said she would build on her performance. I’m betting we see her in the second week in New York, too.

Which men’s player outside of the top 10 do you think could make a deep run in New York?

Stevenson: Tommy Paul. He moves around hard courts well. He’s an outside shot, and made a run in Australia this year. He has a brilliant return of serve and a solid backhand.

Connelly: Over the past year, Paul has beaten Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal on hard courts. He has beaten Taylor Fritz, too, and while he’s only 2-5 lifetime at the US Open, his recent run to the Australian Open semis counters that. The rise of players like Fritz and Tiafoe — not to mention the pure upside of Korda — has kind of distracted us from the fact that Paul is up to a career-high 14th in the ATP rankings. He has a US Open run in him.

Hamilton: I went with Korda for Wimbledon, and though that was a touch misplaced because of his first-round exit, I’m sticking with him. Tiafoe will go deep, but Korda has the all-court game to reach the latter stages of the tournament. Hubert Hurkacz should also do well, and do not rule out Nick Kyrgios if he gets his fitness back to his 2022 levels. But Korda is one to keep an eye on and definitely has the capability to cause an upset.

Roenigk: Eubanks! Eubanks! I haven’t peeked at D’Arcy’s answer, but I have a feeling we’re in lockstep on this one. We both witnessed 28-year-old American Chris Eubanks’ inspired run at Wimbledon in person, and anyone who saw what he did not only on the court but in interviews and as a steward of the sport, signing autographs and taking selfies with anyone who asked, could see how much the game still means to him — and how invigorated he is for a second act. The guy sat outside the top 200 two years ago and will be seeded in New York for the first time. A favorable draw and he’s into the second week at a second straight major.

Maine: I’m 100% with you here, Alyssa, and co-signing for Eubanks. He had such an incredible run at Wimbledon, fueled by a newfound self-belief and it’s hard to see his momentum slowing down, especially on the surface in which he’s most comfortable. While the American ended up being a favorite among the British crowd, the New York fans are going to go absolutely wild for him, and it would be so fun to see that adoration last well into the tournament.

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