for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Sport

Penpix of the top men's contenders at the U.S. Open

(Reuters) - Penpix of the top men’s contenders at the 2020 U.S. Open

FILE PHOTO: Aug 26, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic (SRB) hits the ball against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

World ranking: 1

Born: May 22, 1987 (Age 33)

Grand Slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020); French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019; U.S. Open (2011, 2015, 2018)

ATP career titles: 79

Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (2011, 2015, 2018)

Armed with nerves of steel and the best backhand on the men’s circuit, Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite to seal an 18th Grand Slam crown.

His precise groundstrokes and defensive skills make him a nightmare to play against and he enters the U.S. Open on a 21-match unbeaten run.

However, the Serb thrives on adversity and the absence of a partisan crowd to fuel his emotions could trip him up. Concerns remain over his fitness, with Djokovic admitting that contracting COVID-19 had affected his stamina.

Dominic Thiem (Austria)

World ranking: 3

Born: Sept. 3, 1993 (Age 26)

Grand Slam titles: 0

ATP career titles: 16

Best U.S. Open performance: Quarter-finals (2018)

Thiem relies on his punishing forehand to dictate baseline rallies. One of the fittest players on tour, he does not shy away from long five-set contests.

His ultra-aggressive approach can backfire at times though, with the Austrian leaking unforced errors when his game is not firing on all cylinders.

Thiem has suffered defeats in three Slam finals and question marks remain over his ability to clear the final hurdle.

Slideshow ( 4 images )

Stefanos Tsitsipas

World ranking: 6

Born: Aug. 12, 1998 (Age 22)

Grand Slam titles: 0

ATP career titles: 5

Best U.S. Open performance: Second round (2018)

Versatility is Tsitsipas’ calling card. The flamboyant Greek is just as comfortable finishing points off at the net as he is grinding down opponents from the back of the court.

Tsitsipas has never been beyond the second round at Flushing Meadows and a middling backhand that can come under fire against top players lengthen his odds of becoming the first Greek Grand Slam champion.

Daniil Medvedev

World ranking: 5

Born: Feb. 11, 1996 (Age 24)

Grand Slam titles: 0

ATP career titles: 7

Best U.S. Open performance: Runner-up (2019)

A patient baseliner, Medvedev’s flat and unorthodox groundstrokes can force opponents into a flurry of unforced errors. He’s also capable of going toe-to-toe with the best players across five sets, as shown by last year’s epic final against Rafa Nadal.

But the volatile Russian possesses a notoriously short fuse and the red mist can descend quickly. His all-or-nothing approach on second serves can lead to his downfall in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Alexander Zverev

World ranking: 7

Born: April 20, 1997 (Age 23)

Grand Slam titles: 0

ATP career titles: 11

Best U.S. Open performance: Fourth round (2019)

A punishing first serve and rock-solid backhand put Zverev in prime position to become the first German man to win the U.S. Open since Boris Becker in 1989.

The lanky Zverev reached his maiden major semi-final in Melbourne this year, erasing doubts over his Grand Slam credentials.

However, a shaky second serve and fragile forehand could be his undoing in the later rounds.

Andy Murray (Great Britain)

World ranking: 134

Born: May 15, 1987 (Age 33)

Grand Slam titles: 3 (Wimbledon 2013, 2016; U.S. Open 2012)

ATP career titles: 46

Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (2012)

Murray’s chances of lifting the U.S. Open trophy are slim but the gritty Scotsman is more than capable of springing an upset or two as he returns to the site of his maiden Grand Slam triumph.

Murray’s last appearance at a major was the 2019 Australian Open and he has since undergone hip surgery that has limited his time on court.

He showed flashes of his best in this week’s Western & Southern Open, downing world number seven Alexander Zverev for his first win over a top-10 player since 2017.

While he has retained his thirst for success, he has lost some of his trademark swiftness and doubts remain over his ability to last five sets.

Compiled by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up