The US Open is fast approaching and the tennis world awaits the rematch between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic.
After their epic Wimbledon final last month was won in thrilling fashion by Alcaraz, the young Spaniard will be looking to cement his status as the world No.1 as he looks to defend his US Open title.
Alcaraz and Djokovic need to get through six rounds at Flushing Meadows to meet again in a second successive Grand Slam final.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
The main action on the ATP Tour got underway with the Toronto Masters on August 7th, with 1000 ranking points and $6.6million of prize money on the line.
Novak Djokovic pulled out of the event, as with the former world No.1 preferring to play in the Cincinnati Masters event, which gets underway a week after Toronto.
Back-to-back tournaments were always likely to be tough for a 36-year-old Djokovic, who will focus his attention on being at his best for a tilt at the US Open.
Alcaraz will look to cement his position at the ATP rankings in Canada, with Jannik Sinner and the in-from Alexander Zverev possible threats to the 20-year-old Spaniard.
Montreal and Cincinnati are joint male and female events, with the stars of the WTA Tour competing in the same event as the US Open countdown gathers momentum.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Is Novak Djokovic vulnerable after his reign as Wimbledon champion came to an end?
The Serbian maestro has carried an aura onto the court every time he has played in a Grand Slam event in recent years, but Alcaraz’s five-set win in the Wimbledon final may give the rest of the field hope that the great champion is beatable.
Alcaraz also has questions to answer.
Many observers suggested his coronation at the All England Club’s Centre Court was signalled a change of the guard at the top of men’s tennis, but Alcaraz now has the pressure of living up to that billing.
A similar level of pressure will also rest on the shoulders of women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek, with the Pole looking to seal status as the world’s best player.
Aryna Sabalenka is closing in on the top position in the WTA rankings and the women’s game will be hoping the duo can develop a rivalry that captures the imagination of the tennis public.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ons Jabeur will be anxious to bounce back from her defeat in the Wimbledon final and win her first Grand Slam title.
The Tunisian was a runner-up at the US Open last year, but she was crestfallen after her latest near miss at Wimbledon and needs to find a way to bounce back.
New Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova made her break into the top ten of the WTA rankings after her shock win at the All England Club and she will aim to confirm her big win in London as no fluke.
Also look out for Kazakstan’s Elena Rybakina, who is a match for all the top players when she is at her best.
In the men’s game, Zverev’s recent win in Stuttgart confirms he is getting back to his best and having come close to win the US Open with an appearance in the final in 2020, he could be a threat if his big game is firing in North America.
Two American stars will also be aiming to put on a show in front of their home fans, with Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe certain to get big support when they get to the US Open at the end of August.
ALL COURT TENNIS CLUB VERDICT
Alcaraz’s consistency is remarkable for a 20-year-old player, so look out for him to have a dip in form sooner rather than later.
It may come over the best-of-three-set format in Toronto and Cincinnati, which will open the door for new names to join the list of ATP Masters 1000 winners.
Look for Tiafoe or Sinner to have a shot of glory, but Alcaraz and Djokovic may be in a class of their own once again at the US Open.
Swiatek will be favourite for every event she enters, but the world No.1 has shown signs of nerves when put under pressure and her rivals will know she can be vulnerable if her listing groundstrokes can be repelled.
Rybakina is a good tip to go all the way at the US Open, as the 2022 Wimbledon champion is a class act who is a proven winner on the biggest stage.