United States international: Williams and Nadal for the legend

United States Open: Williams and Nadal for legend


NEW YORK | Whatever result she obtains in the next few days, this US Open will be that of Serena Williams, who will compete in New York the last tournament of his immense career, marked by 73 singles titles, including 23 majors. 

But other great stories could be written during this expected fortnight. Starting with that of the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who, if he lifts the trophy at arm's length on the last Sunday, will equal Williams for the number of Grand Slam titles in the modern era. The Journal brings you five players to watch on the biggest tennis stage in the world, for this final Grand Slam tournament of the season.  

World 605th  

First match: today at 7 p.m. c. Danka Kovinic
His name is on everyone's lips in New York. “Best athlete in history”, “icon”, “legend”. It was at the place where she won the first of her 23 major titles that Serena Williams chose to bid farewell to the sport she redefined for more than two decades. Now, can the almost 41-year-old American really aspire to this 24th major title, which would put her on a par with Australian Margaret Court in the history books of the discipline? Serena hasn't shown since returning to Wimbledon that her body can hold up. But no matter what results she obtains at this ultimate US Open, her journey will be one to follow. Because, as the Russian Daniil Medvedev said: “In 100 years, we will still be talking about Serena Williams. » 

First favorite

First game: tomorrow at 11 h c. Jasmine Paolini
She was for months the undisputed queen of the women's circuit, but the star of the young Polish has faded since Wimbledon. What's more, she repeated that she didn't like the balls used by women in New York, which were lighter than those offered to their male counterparts. But his six titles this season and his incredible streak of 37 straight victories, which ended at the All England Club, still make Swiatek the big favorite of this US Open. At 21, she says she is getting used to this role as the headliner of the circuit. Flushing Meadows would be the best place to cement that status.  

14th favorite

First game: Tonight at 9 p.m. c. Oceane Dodin
The tennis world discovered the Quebecer a year ago in New York where, against all odds, from the top of her 73rd world ranking, she beat five headliners before losing in the final. Leylah loves bustling crowds, and bustling crowds love Leylah. This is partly why the native Lavallois shone so much at the US Open last year. Fernandez has only played three games since Roland-Garros, however, due to a stress fracture in her right foot which kept her away from the pitch. She does not return to the scene of her first grand finale in the best conditions. “Right now, I'm going one game at a time,” she said. The formula is agreed, but appropriate in the case of the 19-year-old.   

EMMA RADUCANU (United Kingdom)
11th seed

First game: tomorrow at 7 p.m. c. Alizé Cornet
If Leylah Fernandez did not win the title in New York last year, it is because a certain 18-year-old Briton, from qualifying, had an even more formidable journey than hers. Since then, Raducanu has rarely presented the tennis which consecrated her champion of the US Open. And during this fortnight, she will not only have immense pressure on her shoulders, but the new face of several major brands will also have very valuable points in the standings to defend. A defeat against the French Alizé Cornet, a formidable opponent for a first round, would take the young player from 11th to… 85th in the world.

4th favorite

First game: tomorrow around 2 p.m. c. Lesia Tsurenko
Defeated in her first match in Toronto and Cincinnati, the 24-year-old Spaniard did not have the expected preparation for this US Open. But the fourth player in the world is generally dangerous on hard courts, as evidenced by this title gleaned last fall in Indian Wells. She has also performed well at this tournament this season, as well as in Miami. However, there is another downside, in addition to these quick setbacks in the last two Masters 1000: like number 1 Iga Swiatek, Badosa does not particularly appreciate the balls used by the players in New York.&nbsp ;

Second favorite

First game: tomorrow at 7 p.m. c . Rinky Hijikata
The Spaniard described as “very sad” the package of Novak Djokovic, absent in New York, since he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. But in his quest for a 23rd major title, Nadal is probably not so disappointed not to have to face the one who has been his “best enemy” over the past decade. After skipping the Montreal tournament with an abdominal injury, the second favorite at Flushing Meadows missed his comeback in Cincinnati, beaten in three sets by the eventual champion, the Croatian Borna Coric. At 36, can Nadal really dream of a third Grand Slam title this season? “I train with intensity, he said Friday. I'm pretty happy with the way I play. » Add to that that he is one of the five players who could be number 1 in the world, at the end of the fortnight

First favorite

First game: today at noon c. Stefan Kozlov
He is the world number 1, the defending champion and a formidable player on this surface. A year ago, in the final game of the United States Open, he achieved the immense feat of depriving Novak Djokovic of the Grand Slam. But the Russian is not having a season worthy of his rank, obtained in particular because of the ATP's decision not to award points at Wimbledon. Suffering from a hernia that kept him out of action for a few weeks, Medvedev has only won one title this season. It was three weeks ago, in Los Cabos. But in the absence of Novak Djokovic, with a Rafael Nadal whose body you never know will hold up, anything is still possible for the winner of 2021.  

Sixth favorite

First game: today around 1:30 p.m. c. Alexander Ritschard
The Quebecer likes this surface, which suits his game and his huge and constantly improving serve. And he loves New York, the city of several of his great firsts, including this first four aces in Grand Slam last year. Félix affirms it: in the big apple, he does not only want to repeat his performance in 2021. He wants to do even better. But to do this, the 22-year-old, sixth seed at the US Open, may have a strong opponent in his hands, whom he has never beaten in four ATP games, namely the Russian Daniil Medvedev. The first seed had curtly put an end to her sparkling run at Flushing Meadows a year ago. 

Third favorite

First game: tomorrow at noon c. Sebastian Baez
He is the new tennis sensation, revealed to the world in March, in Miami, where he won his first Masters 1000 series title. But the 19-year-old Spaniard had started turning heads before this big moment. .Last year, in New York, Alcaraz reached the quarter-finals. Injured, he was forced to withdraw in the middle of the match against Félix Auger-Aliassime. When he was beaten from the start in Montreal by the American Tommy Paul, the young player, ranked third seed this fortnight, admitted to having crumbled under the pressure. He will now have to learn to manage these great moments. Because the rest of his game is perfectly designed to shine there.

NICK KYRGIOS (Australia)
23rd favorite

First game: today around 8:15 p.m. c. Thanasi Kokkinakis
The slightly softened version of the terrible child of tennis has been multiplying the blows for a few months. Champion in Washington, but above all an unexpected finalist at Wimbledon, the Australian rose to 26th in the world, after falling out of the top 100 at the start of the season. Kyrgios was one of the players who stood out the most during this season. on the hard. In addition to this trophy won in Washington, he shone in Montreal, beating on his way to the quarterfinals the number 1 in the world, the Russian Daniil Medvedev. Kyrgios loves the spotlight and bustling crowds. He has everything to shine in New York…if his tennis, not his emotions, dictates his game.