Watch out for Daniil Medvedev.
The 6’6” twenty-three-year-old Russian sensation has dominated the summer hard court series and is heading into the US Open in as good of form as anyone on tour. After coming just short of the title in Washington, D.C. and Montreal, Medvedev played lights out tennis to claim the most prestigious title of his young career, the Cincinnati Open. As in every tournament this hard court series, Medvedev breezed through the early rounds, beating quality players routinely in straight sets.
Medvedev showed no fear when matched up against Djokovic in the semifinals, and blasted sixteen aces past the best returner in the game en route to an impressive three-set victory. In his press conference, Djokovic commended Medvedev on his stellar play and admitted that not even his best tennis could outlast Medvedev’s dominant serving.
In the final, Medvedev edged past David Goffin to claim the 1000 ranking points, which have elevated him to the fifth spot in the latest ATP rankings. The world has been searching for the next player to consistently contend with the big three, and Medvedev has all the tools and confidence to do so starting at this year’s US Open.
Besides for Medvedev, other current and former Next Gen players have not shown the consistency to overtake the throne from Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. There are six players besides Medvedev ranked in the top 20 on the ATP tour under 25-years-old: Felix Auger Aliassime, Borna Coric, Karen Kachanov, Stefanos Tstsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem.
Each of these young stars has had breakthrough seasons at a young age, but lack consistent results week-in and week-out. Thiem is arguably the best clay-court player on tour, next to Nadal, but hasn’t yet developed his game to be suited towards all surfaces. Zverev and Aliassime are bizarrely experiencing service inconsistencies, as both players have been double-faulting uncharacteristically in the last few months. In Cincinnati, Zverev double-faulted twenty times in his first-round loss, and Aliassime double-faulted ten times in his first-round loss.
Coric has yet to put together consecutive wins since Wimbledon, and Tsitsipas was upset in the first round of Montreal and Cincinnati after a run to the semifinals in Washington D.C. Khachanov has been playing well, but is not a likely bet to beat a member of the big three in a slam. Andy Murray is a champion who has figured out how to beat the big three and is trying to get back in the singles game. Murray thought he might have played his last singles match at the 2019 Australian Open, but he came back from hip surgery this summer playing solid doubles. Murray decided to return to the singles action for the first time in 210 days at Cincinnati but fell short to fellow veteran Richard Gasquet. Murray was optimistic after the match, recognizing his rustiness but admitting he was in no pain on the court. The 2012 US Open champion will not play singles in New York this year but will play a lead-up event to the Open this week in Winston-Salem and return for singles during the Asian swing at the end of the season.
Federer is heading into the US Open as an underdog praying to be on the opposite side of the draw as Djokovic. Federer fans, still recovering from a devastating loss to Djokovic at Wimbledon, were certainly not encouraged when the seven-time Cincinnati champion was upset by Andrey Rublev in the Round of 16 of this year’s event. The Swiss Maestro is not defending many points in New York, having lost to John Millman early last year. Federer admitted he struggled in the hot and humid conditions, but the weather doesn’t seem to be any cooler this year. It will be a tough task for the 20-time grand slam champion to win his first US Open title since 2008, but the New York fans will surely be behind his back to do so.
Djokovic is coming to the US Open looking to capture his third Grand Slam of the season. The Serbian is steadily catching up to Federer and Nadal on the all-time list, and will be motivated to add the 2019 US Open to his count. Medvedev appears to be the biggest threat to Novak, having beaten him twice this season and coming off an incredible US Open Series, racking up the most match wins of any player on tour. Medvedev has only gone as far as the fourth round of a Grand Slam, but we are eager to see if he can put together a title run in the Big Apple.
Robbie Werdiger is a freshman at Georgetown University. A former standout at Horace Mann High School, Werdiger has competed on the national junior stage and has achieved USTA rankings of top 25 in the eastern section in numerous age groups. Additionally, Robbie has represented team USA at the world Maccabiah Games in Israel in 2017, the third largest international sporting event in the world.