After a marathon match between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Ohio, Djokovic said he hoped to play Alcaraz again at the U.S. Open “for the crowd.”
The crowd may get to see that rematch.
The men’s and women’s singles draws for the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday in New York, revealed the path for Djokovic and Alcaraz to meet again in the final, which would also be a rematch of last month’s Wimbledon final, a thrilling five-setter that Alcaraz won after nearly five hours on the court.
“Every match we play against each other goes the distance,” Djokovic said after the final on Sunday, adding that the match felt like a Grand Slam.
Djokovic returns to New York after missing the U.S. Open last year because he was unvaccinated against the coronavirus and travel restrictions would not allow him to enter the United States. Now, with an injured Rafael Nadal and a retired Roger Federer not in his way, Djokovic will seek his 24th Grand Slam title and his third of the season after winning in Australia and France earlier this year.
Djokovic, who will play Alexandre Muller of France in the first round of the tournament, will not have an easy path to the final. He could potentially face the No. 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the quarterfinals, and in the semifinals, Djokovic could play Holger Rune of Denmark or Casper Ruud, the Norwegian who reached last year’s U.S. Open final.
Alcaraz, who will face Dominik Koepfer of Germany in the first round, could also see some formidable opposition as he looks to defend his U.S. Open title. Alcaraz could play against Jannik Sinner of Italy in the quarterfinals, followed by one of two Russians, either Andrey Rublev or Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champion.
The women’s draw could also lead to several rivalries and rematches. Iga Swiatek, the No. 1 women’s player in the world, could end up in the final against Aryna Sabalenka, this year’s Australian Open champion.
In defending her U.S. Open title, Swiatek could face Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals. Before this month, Swiatek had won seven matches against Gauff, but the 19-year-old American finally found a way to defeat Swiatek this month in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. Gauff went on to win the tournament for her first WTA 1000 title.
On the other side of the draw, Sabalenka could play a quarterfinal match against Ons Jabeur, the Tunisian No. 5 seed who reached the U.S. Open final last year and lost in the Wimbledon final in July. In the semis, Sabalenka could meet either Caroline Garcia of France or Jessica Pegula, the American No. 3 seed.
While both draws offer promising matchups, this year’s tournament will miss some big names: An injury has kept Nadal sidelined since the Australian Open, with hopes to return next year. Naomi Osaka, a two-time U.S. Open champion, will miss the tournament after giving birth to her daughter this summer, and Emma Raducanu, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, is out as she recovers from three minor procedures.
Simona Halep, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, was withdrawn from the tournament because of a provisional suspension she received last year after she tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during the 2022 U.S. Open.
This year’s U.S. Open will also miss trick shots from Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew from the tournament because of a wrist injury.
But despite the notable absences, the tournament will open with some strong first-round matches: Tsitsipas, who lost to Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final, will start off against Milos Raonic, a Wimbledon finalist in 2016. Venus Williams, the 43-year-old seven-time Grand Slam champion, will play Paula Badosa, who won at Indian Wells in 2021. And Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, will play in the first round against Beatriz Haddad Maia, a Brazilian player who has had a decent season, reaching the French Open semifinals this year and the round of 16 at Wimbledon.