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  1. Tennis

Tennis: Three men to look for on the hard courts

With Wimbledon in the books for another year, the tennis circuit is headed for hard court season and the final major of the year in New York in September.

Novak Djokovic increased his Grand Slam tally to 21 – one short of Rafael Nadal - by defeating Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final, but the Serbian could face stiffer opposition during the US hard court season which concludes at the US Open final on 11th September at Flushing Meadows in New York.

The intensity of competition increases with the return of US Open defending champion Daniil Medvedev and his Russian compatriot Andrey Rublev, who has won three singles titles this year.

Matteo Berrettini will be in the mix after pulling out of Wimbledon due to a positive Covid test, and outstanding teenager Carlos Alcaraz should appreciate the switch back to a more favourable surface.

Here's our three to watch closely as the hard court season develops.

What

Men's US Open

Where

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York

When

Monday 29th August - Sunday 11th September 2022

How to watch

Amazon Prime and bet365's Sports Live Streaming

Odds

Novak Djokovic 5/4, Daniil Medvedev 5/2, Carlos Alcaraz 4/1, Stefanos Tsitsipas 12/1, Jannik Sinner 20/1

Daniil Medvedev

The ban on Russian athletes competing at Wimbledon was hard to take for Medvedev, who will be eager to respond during the US hard court season.

Medvedev has had extra time to fine-tune his game and had a decent enough grass court season – finishing runner-up at s-Hertogenbosch and Halle.

He remains the world number one and much of his success has been achieved stateside, where conditions are generally suited to his powerful all-court game.

The 26-year-old was the star of last year's US hard court swing, winning the ATP Masters 1000 Canada and the US Open, and he will be determined to do well again as he seeks to defend a large number of ranking points.

Medvedev has previously registered stateside victories at Winston-Salem (2018) and Cincinnati (2019) and, at this point, he looks the main threat to Djokovic's dominance of the sport.

Rafael Nadal has won two of the three Grand Slams this year but injury problems seem to be catching up with him and the time may have finally arrived for the next generation to make their mark.

The path to winning Grand Slams may be about to open up and Medvedev, 5/2 to retain the US Open title, looks as likely as anyone to take advantage in the years to come.

Jannik Sinner

Wimbledon quarter-finalist Jannik Sinner was the only player to take two sets off of Djokovic at the All England Club this year, and he looks primed to make a big impact during the US hard court swing.

The Italian broke into the top ten towards the end of last year after winning four titles, including the US hard court event in Washington where he took advantage of a fairly weak field.

He reached the fourth round at last year's US Open – losing in straight sets to Alexander Zverev – and will fancy his chances of going deeper this year.

Sinner's excellent balance and powerful all-court game have drawn comparisons with Roger Federer, who burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old by reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

The teenage Federer overcame Pete Sampras in a famous Wimbledon fourth round match in 2001 which signalled the dawn of a new era.

And the 20-year-old Sinner was on the brink of an equally momentous victory when he forged two sets ahead of Djokovic in their Wimbledon last eight clash which was eventually settled 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 in the Serb's favour.

Sinner is going to need more time to develop greater consistency, but he is a genuine contender for titles this summer and could go well in New York at a big price of 20/1.

Related Tennis News

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US Open - Tennis: All you need to know

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas was driven to distraction during his bad-tempered Wimbledon third round loss to Kyrgios, but he is capable of bouncing back and making a bold impression over the next two months.

The Greek is a consistent performer, who has not been ranked outside of the top six since October 2019.

His sprightly movement and solid baseline game are probably best suited to clay courts and indoor events, but he can perform well on outdoor hard courts.

Tsitsipas' best efforts at Grand Slams have come at the French Open, where he was a losing finalist in 2021, and the Australian Open where he reached the semi-finals in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

He has struggled for success in the US but this year may be different because his early exit from Wimbledon has given him plenty of time to prepare.

The 23-year-old has room to improve stateside but he was a semi-finalist at the US Open juniors in 2016 and will be hoping to have greater success at the event in the future. He is priced at 12/1 to win the US Open crown.

Tsitsipas can sometimes find himself outgunned by the more powerful players but his high ranking (six) gives him every chance of landing some decent draws over the next few weeks and he could go deep at several events.

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