Down and out? Not possible. Looks out of it? Don't doubt his abilities. A second, third, and even fourth wind is possible. Those two questions were posed to many viewers of Novak Djokovic at times both during the Australian Open in January and Western and Southern Open this past week.
Both times, the Serb came from it unscathed, rising from the ashes to lift an 18th major and another Masters 1000 title. Questions are always asked from the greats, and they always quizzically pass the test with flying colors.
The youngsters and the ones waiting to finally win that coveted Grand Slam haven't aced the test just yet. That group has passed from time to time but has endured many failures and disappointments along the way.
Will this year's US Open see Djokovic ace another test and add another trophy to his cabinet? Or will we see someone bring out an ace from their sleeve to take home the major title number one in New York?
Neck problems, stomach pain, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Milos Raonic, all of them pushed the world number one to the brink but succumbing to any of those was not part of the plan for Djokovic in "Cincinnati". An overwhelming favorite in his section, there's no doubt you will see the world number one in at least the semis.
David Goffin, favorite to meet Djokovic in the quarters, has a road not as straightforward. Reilly Opelka poses a tall order (pun intended) in round one. Filip Krajinovic showed what he's potentially capable of this past week. Taylor Fritz and Denis Shapovalov on their day are hard to outhit.
This section should see chalk for their quarterfinals but don't be surprised
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic vs David Goffin
Semifinalist: Novak Djokovic
First Round Matches To Watch For: Kyle Edmund vs Alexander Bublik, Steve Johnson vs Isner
Having not made it past the first round once in his two years at the US Open, and Stefanos Tsitsipas hopes to turn it around this year. He should breeze by Albert Ramos-Vinolas and has a favorable draw to get to the quarterfinals with both Dusan Lajovic and Cristian Garin awaiting in a possible fourth-round clash. Borna Coric may have something to say about that though, with the US Open being one of his two majors where he holds a winning record.
0-5 head-to-head seems a bit extreme given how well Kevin Anderson has played throughout his career, especially since Alexander Zverev has come on tour. The South African is going to cause the German a lot of trouble given Zverev's double-fault problems. Look for upsets to be aplenty in this section.
Quarterfinals: Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Diego Schwartzman
Semifinalist: Stefanos Tsitsipas
First Round Matches To Watch For: Anderson vs Zverev
Daniil Medvedev must fancy his chances at another deep run in New York. The Russian looked efficient and dangerous in the lead up to the Open, only to be stopped by Roberto Bautista Agut. In a section where most of his potential opponents are known to be better on clay, look for the "Meddy Bear" to be deep into the second week.
Potential quarterfinal Matteo Berrettini made his mark at last year's US Open, making the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. The Italian is going to have his hands full trying to replicate that run with former semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov as well as one of the hottest players earlier this year in Andrey Rublev.
Quarterfinals: Daniil Medvedev vs Andrey Rublev
Semifinalist: Daniil Medvedev
First Round Matches To Watch For: Mackenzie McDonald vs Casper Ruud, Jeremy Chardy vs Andrey Rublev, John Millman vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Both Roberto Bautista Agut and Milos Raonic really tested Djokovic this weekend but still fell short. These two are likely to face each other in the third round in what looks to effectively battling for their potential quarterfinal spot in the round of 32. The winner of that match will be favorite for a deep run given how they performed this past week.
Dominic Thiem, the player who played the most tennis during the cancellation of the tour, looked more like a player who hadn't picked up a racquet instead after getting beat 2 and 1 by Krajinovic. The Austrian was a finalist in Melbourne and looks like a far cry from that player. If Thiem continues like that, look for a surprise in this bottom quarter.
Quarterfinals: Milos Raonic vs Dominic Thiem
Semifinalist: Milos Raonic
First Round Matches To Watch For: Jannik Sinner vs Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut vs Tennys Sandgren
Semifinals and Finals Prediction
Djokovic over Tsitsipas
Medvedev over Raonic
Djokovic over Medvedev