Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open: Preview and Prediction
Rafael Nadal comes into this year’s US Open with a lot of confidence having successfully defended his Rogers Cup crown. Moreover, the fact that he will only have to defeat one of his two great rivals – Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – to lift his 19th Grand Slam title will motivate him further.
The three-time US Open Champion begins his quest for a fourth title at Flushing Meadows with a tricky opening round match against the hard-working Australian John Millman. The Aussie has a never-say-die attitude, which was on display during his famous victory against five-time champion Roger Federer last year.
Will he be able to repeat those heroics against another great champion? It is unlikely given how Nadal never takes his foot off the gas even against lesser opponents.
The Spaniard's second-round opponent could be another Aussie, the talented but injury-prone Thanasi Kokkinakis. However, there exists a huge gulf in class and Nadal should comfortably seal a spot in the third round where he could come up against fellow Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco.
The two have had some epic clashes on the Grand Slam stage in the past. Verdasco could be Nadal’s first real test, but the 18-time Slam champion should have enough in the tank to see off his compatriot.
Nadal could meet either John Isner or Marin Cilic in the fourth round. Big servers have often troubled Nadal in the past, especially on hard courts. However, both Cilic and Isner have struggled for consistency this season and should not pose Nadal too much of a challenge.
Alexander Zverev, considered the leader of the NextGen, has been going through a major slump this year. However, if he can make it to the quarterfinals, he will be high on confidence. Zverev has come close to defeating Nadal in the past, but his Grand Slam record leaves a lot to be desired. It is difficult to imagine him posing much of a challenge to the Spaniard.
Dominic Thiem, who has slowly but surely developed into an all-court player, is Nadal’s potential semi-final opponent. The two have played some epic matches in the past, including one at the US Open, and we could be in for another blockbuster encounter this time around as well. While Thiem has the firepower to get the better of Nadal, the Spaniard only grows in confidence towards the latter stages of a Slam and should have the edge in this clash.
In the final, Nadal could meet either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, who are expected to face one another in the semifinal. Defeating two members of the Big 3 in consecutive matches is a herculean task and that should ultimately give Nadal the advantage in the final.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win his 4th US Open title.