Player profiles of 10 US Open contenders including Serena Williams and Daniil Medvedev

The US Open starts on Monday with Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu defending their titles.

Novak Djokovic is unable to enter the United States due to his unvaccinated status while Serena Williams prepares to retire from the sport.

Here, Eleanor Crooks picks 10 players to watch at Flushing Meadows.

Serena Williams

23 years after winning her first Grand Slam title at the age of 17, Williams is preparing to say goodbye to the sport she dominated on and off the court. She, as she herself admits, is terrible at parting, and she will not want to bow with a soft defeat. Despite playing so little tennis and with a month shy of her 41st birthday, there is little to suggest she will be in contention for a record-breaking 24th Slam singles title.

Iga Swiatek

Thanks to her 37-match winning streak, which included a second French Open title, Swiatek has a huge lead at the top of the rankings. She was unbeatable on American hard courts in the spring and then on her preferred clay court, but has not progressed past the quarter-finals since Roland Garros and is still adjusting to her new status. Goes in as a favorite, but only a tepid one.

Simona Halep

This season Halep has shown something of her old form after the difficulties of last year’s calf injury which meant she was unable to defend her Wimbledon title. The Romanian was close to calling it quits but credits new coach Patrick Mouratoglou – William’s longtime mentor – for helping her rediscover her love for the sport. The title win in Toronto earlier this month brought Halep back into the top 10.

Emma Raducanu

What a moment for the 19-year-old defending the title she won so incredibly last summer. Raducanu’s form and the choices she’s made have come under immense scrutiny, but there are signs the British number one is finding her way around life on the tour. A repeat of 12 months ago is certainly out of the question, but if Raducanu made it into week two it would be a respectable result.

Beatrice Haddad Maia

It’s been an incredible season for the 26-year-old Brazilian, who started the year ranked 83rd and heads into the US Open in the top 20. A talented junior, Haddad Maia’s career was put on hold when she failed a drug test in 2019 and was handed a 10-month ban. She won back-to-back titles on grass in Nottingham and Birmingham this summer and reached the biggest final of her career in Toronto this month.

Rafael Nadal

A mistimed abdominal injury ended Nadal’s hopes of winning the calendar Grand Slam as he was forced to withdraw ahead of the Wimbledon semifinals, but he has yet to lose a best-of-five sets match all season . Time is not on his side, but he has an excellent record in New York, winning a fourth title in his last appearance at Flushing Meadows in 2019.

Daniel Medvedev

Medvedev enters the tournament as the defending champion and world number one, but the odds are likely against him holding on to either of those titles. Since his agonizing loss to Nadal in the Australian Open final, the 26-year-old has won just one minor title and suffered a few surprise defeats, while his status has made him a lightning rod for the excitement surrounding Russian players’ participation.

Nick Kyrgios

The fact that the Australian is back in the top 30 despite reaching the Wimbledon final without a point shows what a consistently strong season he has had. Kyrgios appears to have finally embraced tennis – on his terms – and has built on his grass successes with more impressive results on the American hard courts. With his parents not doing well in Australia, Kyrgios may find it difficult to keep his mind away from home.

Carlo Alcaraz

It was last summer in New York when Alcaraz burst into the limelight with a place in the quarterfinals. He won the Spring Masters title in Miami and went on to beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back on his way to Madrid Open success. The 19-year-old seemed unstoppable, but given the stratospheric standards he’s set, his recent form has been a bit shaky.

Jack Draper

Britain have three men in form in Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and 20-year-old Draper. The young Londoner is attracting attention well beyond these shores and hit another milestone earlier this month by claiming his first top 10 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Draper, on the verge of becoming a top 50 player, will be a name the seeded stars will all want to avoid.

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