Dominic Thiem will need to be on from the first ball if he wants to win his maiden Grand Slam title at this year’s US Open. The second seed stares down a treacherous quarter of the draw that includes red-hot eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, along with former US Open champions Andy Murray and Marin Cilic.
Thiem begins his campaign against Jaume Munar and holds a flawless (3-0) record in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. Cilic, the No. 31 seed, looms as a potential third-round opponent and No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or 2012 champion Murray could await in the fourth round. Thiem has an opportunity to consolidate his spot in the Top 3 with only 10 points to defend after last year’s opening-round defeat in New York, but will need to recalibrate after a shocking opening-round loss at the Western & Southern Open.
The Austrian could meet Bautista Agut in the last eight and has historically struggled against the tenacious baseliner. Bautista Agut leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but Thiem won their most recent clash at 2018 St. Petersburg.
The 32-year-old Spaniard is in top form this year on hard courts. He went undefeated (6-0) at the ATP Cup and is currently in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open. Bautista Agut also faces a challenging path and could meet fellow Western & Southern Open semi-finalist Milos Raonic, the No. 25 seed, in the third round.
Top seed Djokovic starts his fortnight against Damir Dzumhur and could face home favourite and No. 16 seed John Isner in the fourth round. Isner trails 2-10 in their ATP Head2Head series, but both of those victories came on North American hard courts. Seventh seed David Goffin sits in the opposite side of Djokovic’s quarter and faces a dangerous opening test in big-serving Reilly Opelka, who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final this week.
Who Will Make A Speedy Start In New York?
Third seed Daniil Medvedev also aims to capture his first major championship. Last year’s US Open finalist (l. to Nadal) begins against Federico Delbonis. Medvedev defeated Grigor Dimitrov in their US Open quarter-final clash last year and could meet the No. 14 seed once again in the fourth round. But the Bulgarian must first get revenge for this year’s Australian Open defeat to Tommy Paul when they face off again in the first round. Eighth seed Matteo Berrettini might also await in the last eight and has plenty of positive memories to lean on after reaching his maiden Grand Slam semi-final here last year.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas begins against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. His path doesn’t get easier with a possible fourth-round clash against No. 13 against Cristian Garin, who picked up a pair of tour-level titles this February in Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba. Tsitsipas could have a potential popcorn clash in the quarter-finals with fifth seed Alexander Zverev, but will take confidence in having won the past five matches (5-1) in their ATP Head2Head series.
Zverev faces perhaps the most challenging opening-round test in the draw when he meets 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson. The German has won all five matches in their ATP Head2Head rivalry, but the former World No. 5 has taken a set in three of those clashes.
Other intriguing first-round battles include No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov squaring off with reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner and a battle of the ages as 38-year-old Paolo Lorenzi meets 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima. Murray starts against Yoshihito Nishioka and might face Auger-Aliassime in the second round.