2022 US Open men's preview: Can Daniil Medvedev defend his title
Will the two finalists from this year's Australian Open meet again in the US Open final (James Morgan/Getty Images)

Heading into the final major of the year, there are plenty of unknowns on the men's side. This could be the most wide-open major in some time given the form of top contenders coming into the tournament. Rafael Nadal comes in with less than ideal preparation, crashing out to eventual Cincinnati champion Borna Coric in three sets.

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev went out earlier than expected in both Canada and Cincinnati despite making the semifinals at the Western and Southern Open. With a number of contenders, an intriguing matchups, it's time to break down the draw for the 2022 US Open.

Contenders

Daniil Medvedev

The world number one comes in as last year's winner after ending Novak Djokovic's bid to complete the Grand Slam in 2021. 2022 hasn't seen the Russian scale the heights of last year, especially after the bitter loss from two sets to love up at this year's Australian Open. Nonetheless, he still has had a solid year despite the lack of big titles.

His draw is very kind to him, avoiding many big-hitters until the quarterfinals where his potential opponent would be Felix Auger-Alliassime. These two had an epic encounter at the Australian this year so if they do meet, expect fireworks.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal's less-than-ideal preparation has already been detailed after his short trip to Cincinnati following his abdominal injury. Despite that, it's hard to count out the 22-time major champion who tends to play himself into majors through the early rounds.

Like his counterpart Medvedev, a beneficial draw sees most of his major threats coming in week two with Cam Norrie or Andrey Rublev awaiting. The likes of Fabio Fognini and Aslan Karatsev could make round two quite interesting, but their form this year has been two up and down to trouble the Spaniard.

Carlos Alcaraz

The third seed has had to deal with a bit of a reality check over the last few months after all the high praises he's had over the last year. A subpar performance at the French Open against Alexander Zverev followed by disappointing performances at Wimbledon, Canada, and Cincinnati has shown the mercurial talent that there's still a long way to go in scraping his full potential and consistency.

Like his two fellow main title contenders listed above, there shouldn't be anyone to push the Spaniard in his first few rounds. Remember last year, the Open was where he made his mark following his massive upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas. He'll hope that Flushing Meadows will be happy hunting grounds again.

Alacaraz practicing at the US Open (Tim Clayton/Corbis Sport/Getty Images)
Alacaraz practicing at the US Open (Tim Clayton/Corbis Sport/Getty Images)

Dark Horses

Matteo Berrettini

The Italian missed out on a potential spot at a major final again after withdrawing from Wimbledon due to having COVID. That in addition to his losses to Pablo Carreno Busta and Frances Tiafoe mean he's been on the court less than he would have liked.

He's still a former semifinalist year from a few years ago and has the powerful game to hit through anyone on any given day. As the 13 seed, he'll run into one of the top seeds in the round of 16 and that potential date would be with Tsitsipas.

The Greek made the Cincinnati final but could not cash in on a first in on a first hard-court Masters title. Expect that one to be a power showdown should they meet.

Taylor Fritz

The US' best hope for a deep run will come from Taylor Fritz. A fruitful and career year for the 24-year-old from California has seen him reach a career-high in ranking, maiden major quarterfinal at Wimbledon, and claim a maiden Masters title in Indian Wells.

The American has been competitive in his matches against the sport's elite, including his most recent bout against Medvedev at the Western and Southern Open, spoiling multiple break and set points in the opener before going out in two tight sets.

He's already defeated Nadal once this year and can go toe-to-toe with anyone and has the ideal conditions in New York to potentially go one step further once again.

Taylor Fritz hitting a forehand at the Western and Southern Open (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Taylor Fritz hitting a forehand at the Western and Southern Open (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Early Exits

Casper Ruud

The Norwegian has played well on hard courts this year and even talked in press about how he's more than a "clay-court specialist". Runner-up at the Miami Open and a semifinalist at the Canadian Masters has definitely proven his ability to play on hard courts.

However with many potential threats in his early rounds such as Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda, and even Taylor Fritz in round four, it's hard to see the Norwegian making it through to week two.

Diego Schwartzman

The small but fierce Argentine seems to have gotten the short end of the stick with his draw. American Jack Sock in round one, Alexei Popyrin in round two, followed by Jason Kubler or Frances Tiafoe in round three.

Three of these four men have the capability to hit Schwartzman off the court at anytime while Kubler provides more variety and consistency compared to the others' power. He's a two-time quarterfinalist here and is defending fourth-round points so he is capable of making a run but don't be shocked if he goes down early.

Predictions

Quarterfinals

Medvedev def. Auger-Alliassime

Berrettini def. Fritz

Hurkacz def. Alcaraz

Nadal def. Norrie

Semifinals

Medvedev def. Berrettini

Nadal def. Hurkacz

Finals

Nadal def. Medvedev

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