Tennis’s final major of 2019 commences on Monday with the United States Open from Flushing Meadows, NY. So far in 2019 there has been one multiple major champion as Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Djokovic needs to be considered the favorite to win his fourth U.S. Open title and 17th grand slam singles title overall.
Over the next two days, here are the five most intriguing first round singles matchups.
5) (24) Matteo Berrettini–ITA vs. Richard Gasquet–FRA–Don’t be fooled by the seeding here as Gasquet needs to be considered the favorite. Gasquet has reached as high as the semifinal of the U.S. Open before (2013) and is playing very good tennis as of late as he reached the semifinals at the Cincinnati Masters. Among the players Gasquet beat in Ohio included Andy Murray of Great Britain, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain. Berrettini reached the fourth round of Wimbledon where he beat Schwartzman and Cyprus’s Marcos Baghdatis, but has struggled on hard court this season as he lost in the first round at the Australian Open, Miami, Indian Wells and Cincinnati.
4) (18) Felix Auger-Aliassime–CAN vs. Denis Shapovalov–CAN–In this all-Canadian men’s singles matchup, Felix Auger-Aliassime enters a major as the top ranked Canadian on the ATP Tour for the first time. Over the past month he passed Milos Raonic, who is seeded 21st in the U.S. Open men’s singles draw. Auger-Aliassime lost to Shapovalov in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open as he had to pull out with a heart condition. Over the last couple of weeks, Shapovalov is the player who has played a little bit better tennis. He advanced deeper than Auger-Aliassime in Cincinnati, and this past week reached the semifinals in Winston-Salem before losing 6-3, 6-4 to Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
3)(8) Stefanos Tsitsipas–GRE vs. Andrey Rublev–RUS–There is no doubt that tennis’s version of the Greek Freak will have a difficult time with the rising Russian in Andrey Rublev. Last week in Cincinnati, Rublev made tennis headlines when he upset the great Roger Federer of Switzerland in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. Tsitsipas should be considered the favorite however based on their grand slam performances this year. Tsitsipas has reached the semifinal of the 2019 Australian Open and fourth round of the 2019 French Open.
2)(2) Rafael Nadal–ESP vs. John Millman–AUS– It was just one year ago that Australian John Millman was the talk of the tennis world when he shocked Federer 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. However it is unlikely the dramatic heroics will happen for the second straight year on American soil. Rafael Nadal of Spain is coming into Flushing Meadows in top form having won his fifth Rogers Cup earlier this month in Montreal. In their only matchup head to head, Nadal beat Millman in the second round of Wimbledon in 2017 in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. Expect mostly the same on Tuesday.
1)(8) Serena Williams–USA vs. Maria Sharapova–RUS–This is not a misprint as indeed Serena Williams is playing Maria Sharapova of Russia in the first round. Head-to-head, it has been pure Serena domination as she has won 19 of 22 matches between each other. In grand slam finals, Williams has the 5-1 edge with Sharapova’s only major final win coming at Wimbledon 15 years ago. Serena Williams is still looking for her first major title since being a mother and comes into the U.S. Open in strong form having reached the final of the 2019 Rogers Cup in Toronto.