2019 U.S. Open: Six Players to Watch

Bianca Andreescu

Two weeks ago, Andreescu, 19, became the first Canadian woman in the Open era to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto. It was her first tournament since withdrawing from the French Open with a shoulder injury. Andreescu won four consecutive three-set matches on her way to the title in Toronto, where she won when Serena Williams retired during the final because of back spasms. In March, Andreescu surprised the tennis world by winning at Indian Wells, Calif., defeating Angelique Kerber to claim her first tour title. Andreescu, No. 15 in the world, has credited her speedy rise in the rankings to the meditation and visualization techniques her mother taught her when she was 12. With her unflappable demeanor, Andreescu is rock solid from the baseline, with superb movement and disciplined shot selection. She uses the drop shot shrewdly, often wrong-footing opponents by going behind them.

Maria Sakkari

Sakkari, a 24-year-old from Greece, has grown into a more consistent performer this year by improving her second serve and tempering her powerful groundstrokes with more topspin and margin. In her first years on tour, Sakkari played with unbridled power, hitting the ball flat and hard and close to the lines. Under the tutelage of Mark Petchey, who coached Andy Murray when he first came on tour, Sakkari has learned to stop beating herself. Her unforced errors, once her chief liability, have decreased as she has learned to play high percentage tennis, using her strength to hit a heavy ball that wears down opponents. She scored two top-10 wins in Ohio last week, defeating Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sabalenka before losing to Ashleigh Barty in three sets. Like Barty, Sakkari has an excellent kick serve that pulls her opponent out of position. Sakkari is seeded 30th at the Open, and with her superb conditioning and physical style, she will be a tough out.

Jennifer Brady

Brady, a 24-year-old American, is having a solid hardcourt season, battling through qualifying in Toronto and Cincinnati and then winning main-draw matches in each event. Ranked 65th, Brady has improved her transition game and now uses her powerful serve and whip of a forehand to get a short ball and attack the net. Brady nearly toppled the Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep, in a spellbinding match in Toronto, losing by 7-5 in a third-set tiebreaker. A gritty, resourceful player, Brady is a testament to the increasing depth in the women’s game. With her improving net game and aggressive, opportunistic play, she poses a serious threat to knock off a seeded player or two.

Daniil Medvedev

Novak Djokovic was firmly in control of his semifinal match against Medvedev last weekend in the Cincinnati Masters when the 23-year-old Russian decided to go for broke. Down a set and serving at 3-3, 0-30, Medvedev went for a big first serve and missed. Djokovic, the sport’s best returner, inched forward, anticipating a slower second serve, only to be shocked when Medvedev hit a blistering flat serve up the middle for an ace. The match turned on that point: Medvedev held serve and then raised his level of play to upset Djokovic, the top-ranked player in the world. After defeating David Goffin in the final — Medvedev’s tour-leading 44th win of the year — he rose to No. 5 in the world rankings. Goffin praised Medvedev’s consistent backcourt game: “He doesn’t miss. It’s like playing against a wall.” Medvedev arrives in New York brimming with confidence, and as a contender for his first Grand Slam title.

Taylor Fritz

Fritz, 21, won his first tour title in June on grass in Eastbourne, England, and reached consecutive finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos, Mexico, on hardcourts. Since April, Fritz has climbed 40 spots in the rankings, and he will enter the U.S. Open as the 26th seed. Coached by David Nainkin and Paul Annacone, Fritz has become a more consistent competitor, improving his return of serve and his baseline game to complement a powerful serve. At 6 feet 4 inches, Fritz ranks in the top 10 on tour in aces and first-serve points won. He is now the second highest ranked American (behind John Isner) and one of eight American men in the top 100.

Hubert Hurkacz

A native of Wroclaw, Poland, Hurkacz, 22, stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas this month in Montreal, earning his fourth win over a top-10 player this year. In March, Hurkacz began working with Craig Boynton, who also coaches Steve Johnson, and promptly made a run to the quarterfinals of Indian Wells, scoring wins over Lucas Pouille, Denis Shapovalov and Kei Nishikori. Having grown up on clay courts, Hurkacz constructs points well, plays excellent defense, and has a two-handed backhand that Boynton compares to Andy Murray’s. At 6-foot-5, Hurkacz has a formidable serve, and he is not afraid of the big stage. At Wimbledon, in his third-round match against Novak Djokovic, Hurkacz lost a tight four-setter. He will be unseeded in New York, but his rapid improvement and ability to beat top players make him a player to watch.



Geoff Macdonald is the women’s tennis coach at Vanderbilt University.

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