US OPEN 2020: Novak Djokovic seeded No. 1, eyes 18th Slam

Men to watch at the U.S. Open in New York, where play is scheduled to begin Monday:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Ranked: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 33

Career Singles Titles: 80

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open (3: 2011, 2015, 2018), Australian Open (7: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020), French Open (1: 2016), Wimbledon (5: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-Lost in 4th Round, 2018-Won Championship, 2017-Did Not Play, 2016-Runner-Up, 2015-W

Aces: 23-0 in 2020, best start to a season by a man since Djokovic opened 41-0 in 2011. … Has won 5 of past 7 Grand Slam tournaments. … Had reached at least the semifinals in 11 consecutive U.S. Open appearances until departing while hampered by injury last year. … Can gain on rivals Roger Federer (men’s-record 20 Grand Slam titles) and Rafael Nadal (19), neither of whom entered the U.S. Open.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play big-serving John Isner in fourth round.

Words: “Right now it’s not something I’m thinking about. It’s not my goal, actually, to go unbeaten, but I wouldn’t complain if I do.” — Djokovic on the prospect of not losing a match in 2020.

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DOMINIC THIEM

Ranked: 3

Country: Austria

Age: 26

Career Singles Titles: 16

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, French Open (2018, 2019), Australian Open (2020)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-1st, 2018-QF, 2017-4th, 2016-4th, 2015-3rd

Aces: 0-3 in Grand Slam finals so far, with two losses to Rafael Nadal at the French Open and one to Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open. … Played 28 exhibition matches while sanctioned tennis was shut down because of the pandemic. … His physical baseline game can wear down many opponents.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in the third round.

Words: “I stayed home before for two months and that was enough, I guess, and I was ready to compete again, ready to travel again.” — Thiem, on his full exhibition schedule.

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DANIIL MEDVEDEV

Ranked: 5

Country: Russia

Age: 24

Career Singles Titles: 7

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-RU, 2018-3rd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP

Aces: Reached the finals at six consecutive hard-court tournaments a year ago, including a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows. … His versatile game and in-match adjustments make things tough for any opponent.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Grigor Dimitrov or Frances Tiafoe — two players who each tested positive for the coronavirus — in the fourth round.

Words: “I’m quite happy with my level of tennis. I honestly thought it would be worse, so that’s the good part.” — Medvedev on returning to competition after so many months away because of the pandemic.

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STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Ranked: 6

Country: Greece

Age: 22

Career Singles Titles: 5

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, Australian Open (2019)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-1st, 2018-2nd, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP

Aces: With great hands and a free-flowing game, seems poised for a long run at the top of tennis. … Ranks just 62nd on tour over the past 52 weeks in percentage of return games won at 35.9%.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play Alexander Zverev in a quarterfinal between two younger players people have pegged as future Grand Slam champs.

Words: “It is great to be back on court, even without fans. I still feel the joy and the happiness of me being able to play.” — Tsitsipas.

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ALEXANDER ZVEREV

Ranked: 7

Country: United States

Age: 23

Career Singles Titles: 11

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, Australian Open (2020)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-4th, 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-2nd, 2015-1st

Aces: Averaging 6 double-faults per match over the past 12 months; only two players are hitting more over that span. … If he can figure out that weakness, could do big things, because the rest of his game is solid. … Made career-best Grand Slam run in January at the Australian Open, erasing some questions about his performances on the sport’s most important stages.

Matchup to Watch For: Plays two-time Grand Slam runner-up Kevin Anderson in the first round.

Words: “He moves well for a big guy, solid off the ground. … When he’s serving well, he’s obviously one of the top players in the world.” — Andy Murray on Zverev.

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ANDY MURRAY

Ranked: 134

Country: Britain

Age: 33

Career Singles Titles: 46

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 — U.S. Open (1: 2012), Wimbledon (2: 2013, 2016)

Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2019-DNP, 2018-2nd, 2017-DNP, 2016-QF, 2015-4th

Aces: Still working his way back from two hip operations, one in January 2018, the next in January 2019, that he thought would force him to retire. … Missed two of the last three U.S. Opens, a tournament he won eight years ago for his first Grand Slam title. … Showed in two match wins at Western & Southern Open that he can move fairly well and certainly still thinks his way through a match as well as anyone.

Matchup to Watch For: Plays 48th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first round, a tough opening assignment.

Words: “I know the tennis will come, but it’s also not going to come back immediately. So yeah, it’s just not to expect, like, straight off the bat, to be playing perfect.” — Murray about himself.

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More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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