Who will take the title in the wide-open women's field? Can Rafael Nadal find a way to win despite injury? Or will Daniil Medvedev defend his crown? And could Serena Williams defy the odds in her final Grand Slam?
Our experts attempt to answer these questions and make their own predictions as the 2022 US Open kicks off on Monday.
Who will win the women's singles title, and why?
Luke Jensen: Coco Gauff is my pick. I have been impressed with how she has developed her on-court talent along with handling off-court distractions. She has been to two major finals in doubles that has her sitting at No. 1 in the world, and a singles final at Roland Garros that shows she can compete for seven singles matches over two weeks. With a powerhouse serve consistently in the 120-mph range and foot speed to cover all areas of the tennis planet, I have tremendous confidence in the American teenager.
Pam Shriver: Caroline Garcia can win, because, since winning the Roland Garros doubles title in early June, she has won three singles tournaments on three different surfaces, including a win over No. 1 Iga Swiatek. Garcia's aggressive game is perfect for the US Open courts. She is attacking weak serves consistently, and has great belief in her all-court game.
Cliff Drysdale: Swiatek. She won the two biggest hardcourt events, Indian Wells and Miami. She needs to get back to her ground game consistency to do it.
Tom Hamilton: Despite withdrawing from Cincinnati with a thigh injury, I'm going for Simona Halep. If she's fully recovered, then she'll carry her form from Toronto into the US Open, and following the draw, she should be able to ease herself back in over the opening three rounds. A potential match-up with Gauff in the fourth round would be a box-office match. Then she could face Maria Sakkari in the quarters, but Halep is in form, and I feel could go all the way.
Bill Connelly: The women's game has been wide open in recent years, and we're getting used to heading into a Slam knowing that, at any given time, 15-20 players have the game to make a big run. (And as last year's US Open showed us, we don't even know the names of all of those 15-20 in advance.) But this might be the most wide-open Slam I can remember. So many of the names we were growing to trust the most have hit some bumps in the summer hardcourt tour -- Swiatek, Ons Jabeur, Paula Badosa and Sakkari lost 11 of 18 matches between them -- and the once-dominant Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams lost five of seven. It feels like Jessica Pegula has been about as consistent as anyone, and she's only gone 6-3 since Wimbledon.
Despite the rough draw and recent withdrawal, I'm agreeing with Tom and going with Halep. She took down Pegula and Gauff in Toronto, and she's playing bright and optimistic tennis. And not including three walkovers/retirements (which are certainly a concern), she's 19-2 since Roland Garros.
D'Arcy Maine: This draw feels so wide open, it's hard to feel confident with a prediction here. There's as good a chance as any for someone under the radar to take home the title, but for now, I'll play it slightly safe and agree with Tom and Bill. Halep's run in Toronto was impressive, against a slew of quality opponents. She has already won the 2018 French Open and Wimbledon in 2019, so if she's able to stay healthy, she certainly could complete the elusive career Surface Slam in New York.
Aishwarya Kumar: She's had a little bit of a rough patch since Wimbledon, but I'm still going to go with Jabeur. She made it to the final of Wimbledon, becoming the first African or Arab player to reach the final of a Grand Slam in the Open era. She earned her career-high ranking of No. 2 in June after winning the Madrid Open. Her game is versatile -- she slices, she serves big and she loves to volley. She is also on Serena Williams' half of the court, and would face No. 2 seed Kontaveit or perhaps, Williams, only in the quarterfinals, giving her enough time to get back to her A-game.
Ohm Youngmisuk: As last year's all-teen sensation final between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez showed, anyone can get hot and come out of the women's side, no matter how young or inexperienced. There are plenty of contenders, but something tells me to go with experience this Open. That is why I am leaning toward Halep.
She recently returned to the top 10 for the first time in a year following her win in Toronto. She hasn't made it to the US Open final before and hasn't made the quarters here since 2016. But she should enter with confidence after Toronto and her semifinal showing at Wimbledon. Halep may have to go through Gauff and Sakkari to get to a possible semifinal showdown with either Kontaveit or Jabeur. Tough road to the final but nothing impossible.
Who will win the men's singles title, and why?
Jensen: I'm rockin' with American Taylor Fritz. A winner in Indian Wells earlier this spring and a great run to the quarters of Wimbledon, Taylor has the eye of the tiger right now. Confidence is mission critical when walking on these big stages, and if Fritz serves effectively he can hold the Tiffany trophy at the end.
Shriver: Daniil Medvedev will defend his title, because his style is perfect for hard courts and his success at the US Open the last few years makes him feel confident and comfortable. Medvedev stands to gain the most by Novak Djokovic's absence.
Drysdale: Carlos Alcaraz. It was his coming out party last year, and strong consistent results have followed, with a year of learning experiences.
Maine: I can't resist, I'm going with Nick Kyrgios. His run at Wimbledon proved to the world, and perhaps more important, himself, that he was capable of reaching a Grand Slam final. Since then, he won the title at the Citi Open, as well the doubles title there and in Atlanta, and came back after dropping the first set to defeat Medvedev in Toronto and improve to 3-1 against the current world No. 1. The two could potentially meet in the fourth round, but momentum seems very much on Kyrgios' side.
Kyrgios looked somewhat tired in Cincinnati last week, and admitted his "tank [is] getting to the end" for the season, but Kyrgios thrives on the big stage with a crowd and, well, that is kind of perfect for the US Open.
Hamilton: With Djokovic absent, the tournament is there for Nadal to end the year like he started it. Though Medvedev heads in as top seed, if Nadal can stay fit -- after he was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon with an abdominal injury -- then his favorable draw means he'll be able to play his way into form. This is what he did in both Melbourne and Paris and ended victorious there, and the draw in New York means it could be the quarterfinal when he'll meet his first top-10 seeded player.
Connelly: I'm going with Medvedev. He was so very, very close to taking down Nadal in Australia, and while he has lost three-setters to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kyrgios recently, he seems to be at his best in New York -- he's 18-2 there over the last three US Opens -- and he's the most consistently strong hardcourter in the tournament.
Kumar: I'm picking Alcaraz. He is a once-in-a-generation kind of a player, and as we come closer to watching the Big Four say goodbye to tennis, I have been excited to watch his incredible talent and his rise. He won his first ATP 500 title at the Rio Open in February and followed it up with two Masters 1000s wins and another ATP 500 win at the Miami Open, Madrid Open and Barcelona Open. He is in Nadal's half of the tournament -- and he already has experience with beating the 22-time Grand Slam champion (he became the first teenager to beat Nadal on clay at the Madrid Open). Age, confidence and recent success are all with him as he begins his journey at Flushing Meadows.
Youngmisuk: He may have to get past Hubert Hurkacz or Jannik Sinner and/or Borna Coric to get into the semis where Nadal could be waiting, but Alcaraz's Grand Slam time is coming. He has the massive star game, incredible poise for a youngster and growing confidence to win this Open. And if all that isn't enough, he will be a crowd favorite after his quarterfinal showing last year. If Alcaraz gets through to the semis -- and he may have to find a way to get past Sinner, who beat him at Wimbledon and in the final at Croatia -- his potential showdown with Nadal could be a pivotal moment in men's tennis. If he faces Nadal, it will feel like a final. And that could be the one big hurdle Alcaraz has to pass in order to win his first slam.
Which player could surprise here?
Jensen: Coco Vandeweghe ... yeah the OG Coco. Semifinals in singles at the US Open 2017 and has a US Open doubles title with Ash Barty. I'm coaching her, so she has to overcome that! I really believe in her. She is coming off an awesome summer, winning the double at the WTA Concord event in singles and doubles. On the way she beat Tauson, Wang and Pera who had a 16-match winning streak. Clutch Vandeweghe lost a very close first round match at Wimbledon to Rybakina who ended up winning the title.
On the men's side I like Tommy Paul. The kid is sneaky good and plays with his mind more than anyone I know. Smart players get the very most of their ability, and Tommy brings the brains to the big pressure points.
Shriver: Shelby Rogers could be this year's surprise. She has had some memorable comebacks in recent years over Ashleigh Barty, and multiple match points down to Kvitova yet pulled off another upset. Rogers' serve plus one game loves the conditions at the Open. She is a crowd favorite with a terrific hardcourt game. Also her seed (31) is my current lucky number.
Fritz is ready to make a run and try to end the 19-year major drought by U.S. men. Fritz has grown a lot in belief since last year's Open by winning Indian Wells and being close to a Wimbledon semifinal, so he knows what it takes to challenge for a major in the second week. His SoCal game is Taylor-made (pun intended) for hard courts. All the other up-and-coming US men are pushing each other to better results. It's time for US male success at a major again.
Drysdale: Sinner could surprise. His game combines power and control. Unlike some power servers, his ground game is rock solid. It's a lethal combination.
Hamilton: Coric has the run of form to make a dent in this year's tournament, but his draw means he'll be up against Alcaraz in the third round. Keep an eye on Coric -- who swept all before him in Cincinnati. For another outsider, have a look at Jack Draper. The young Brit is playing brilliantly and knocked over Tsitsipas in the Canadian Open. He also has a recent win over Dominic Thiem, so name and reputation are clearly no barrier for him. The draw is tricky for him, however, with Emil Ruusuvuori first up and a potential meeting with Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round.
Connelly: On the women's side, I don't even know what would qualify as a surprise at this point. You could talk me into so many different players making a big run. But let's throw some love toward Bianca Andreescu here. She has shown hints of form on a variety of surfaces in recent months, and while she has a rough draw -- she could play Toronto finalist Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round and Cincinnati winner Garcia in the third -- that will either mean an early exit or an extreme boost of confidence. The 2019 US Open champ is at her best in New York, and if she pulls a couple of early upsets, we'll act like we saw it coming all along.
On the men's side, give me Seb Korda. He looked good in both Washington and Cincinnati, and he beat potential second-round opponent Tommy Paul in their only ATP meeting. It's been a grind of a year for the 22-year-old, but he has the tools to compete with just about anyone.
Maine: I'm with Bill here. Is there such a thing as a surprise on the women's side at the US Open? Five of the previous seven women's champions have been first-time major winners and it might be an even bigger surprise if a more veteran player, like Halep or Swiatek, were to win here at this point. But it's fun to think about which women could have a breakthrough in New York, and I'm keeping an extra-close eye on Daria Kasatkina, Garcia and Americans Pegula and -- wait for it -- Rogers. The 29-year-old Rogers is playing some of the best tennis of her career lately. She reached the final at the Silicon Valley Classic and climbed to a career-high ranking as a result. She also proved she is capable of beating anyone on the biggest stage last year when she defeated then-No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the third round on Arthur Ashe.
Kumar: I'm going to put all my eggs in the Ben Shelton basket. A 19-year-old Florida native, Shelton announced that he is going pro a week before the US Open, after success on the ATP tour. He is coming off of a big win against Casper Ruud in Cincinnati, after winning his first ATP match early on in the summer in Atlanta against India's Ramkumar Ramanathan. This is after he won the 2022 NCAA men's singles championship and helped Florida win the team championship the year before.
He is super athletic, has a big serve and he doesn't get scared to get up to the net. And two other fun facts: Shelton has never left the U.S. to go play tennis overseas! And, he is the son of former American tennis player Bryan Shelton (who was ranked No. 55 in the world).
Youngmisuk: Coric comes in off a dream run in Cincinnati. There he beat the likes of Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie and Tsitsipas. He won all his matches there in straights outside of his three-setter over Nadal. Entering that tournament at 152, Coric became the lowest-ranked player to win a Masters 1000 title. Of course, Coric is making a comeback after reaching No. 12 in the world before missing much of 2021 with a shoulder injury. He may have to beat Alcaraz in the third round but if he does, Coric's run will only get hotter.
How do you think Serena Williams will fare here?
Jensen: I am really impressed with what Coach Stubbsy (Rennae Stubbs, also an ESPN tennis analyst) is doing with Williams. Loads of practice sets with various styles of play. Stubbsy is a brilliant tactician and game planner. Putting this kind of tennis mind into the Williams machine will be extraordinary! I see her making a deep run!
Shriver: Williams could lose in the first round or fight her way into week two. Obviously her summer form has not been strong, but she is working hard to have some wins in her last tournament. Unfortunately, her range and ability to cover the court is limited by age and injuries, but Williams still has the power and serve to win matches. I wish No. 24 would be possible, but I don't see it happening. Williams will continue to evolve, and bravo on a GOAT career.
Drysdale: Everyone is pulling for a Williams miracle. She has done it before. But the pressure and lack of match play make a deep run unlikely, even with a friendly draw.
Maine: Despite her age, limited recent schedule and lackluster results in Toronto and Cincinnati, we're still talking about SERENA WILLIAMS -- insert a GOAT emoji here -- and no one has won more US Open singles titles than she has. Williams spoke to Meghan Markle on her recently released podcast about the emotions she was anticipating when walking onto the court at the US Open knowing it could be her last match ever, and it's clear those feelings are going to be tough to deal with and possibly a bigger hurdle than any opponent she could face. While it would be an amazing story if she could win a record-tying 24th major title in New York, it's hard to see her getting out of the first week.
Hamilton: It's a fiercely tricky opener against Danka Kovinic, and it'll take one monumental effort from Williams to get through it. But if anyone can, she can. It's going to be a tricky balancing act for her of the mixing emotion of what looks likely to be her last Grand Slam and that incredible competitive fire in her as she looks for one last run in a Major.
Connelly: She deserves one last great run, and she is going to have the crowd behind her. Her first-round opponent (Kovinic) is 6-9 all-time in hardcourt Slams, and her likely second-round opponent (Kontaveit) does not have a No. 2 seed's track record in Slams. The table is set for at least a couple of awesome wins, but unless she rediscovers her second serve, it's hard to feel confident that she'll get more than one.
Kumar: Never rule her out, right? I think it's realistically going to be difficult. The 27-year-old from Montenegro, Kovinic, has had some big wins this year. She became the first player from Montenegro to reach the third round of a Grand Slam with wins over US Open champion Raducanu and former world No. 1 Halep. She also beat Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Jabeur this year.
But, let's not forget that Kovinic is playing Williams at her home slam, and she will likely play in front of the biggest crowd of her career. I can imagine Williams powering through the first round, in which case she would potentially face the No. 2 seed Kontaveit. And, it will only get more difficult from that point on.
Youngmisuk: Williams may be ready for retirement, but the New York crowd will do everything in its power to not let her go quietly. Her first-rounder on Monday night could be tricky but no one has been better under the lights at the Open. Williams has 44 night match wins at the Open, the most since 1980. Roger Federer is second with 36. Williams is 20-0 in opening matches at the Open. I expect New York and the crowd to get her to 21-0. After that, though, it is hard seeing Serena getting past Kontaveit. Perhaps Williams has one magical Jimmy Connors-like run in her with the crowd getting what they came for. For however long this lasts, enjoy every single point.
Can Rafael Nadal reach Grand Slam No. 23 at the US Open?
Jensen: He has won here before but I don't trust any player coming back from an abdominal issue. Nadal has been very quiet about the injury from Wimbledon and he's not really showing anything in his practice sessions ... If he is 100 percent I can see him winning major number 23!
Shriver: Nadal has proved this year more than ever that anything is possible at a major, but I feel that the foot injury and abdominal strain make it unlikely he will reach 23 here. Having said that, I never imagined he would reach 21 at this year's Australian Open given he missed most of the second half of 2021 with the foot injury and a December bout with COVID. While Nadal is an unlikely winner, it makes me uneasy to say it, because he has done the improbable so many times.
Drysdale: Nadal has as good a shot at the title as anyone. With Alcaraz in his half, it helps his chances.
Hamilton: Absolutely. I picked him earlier and I'll stand by that here. Nadal has more Grand Slam experience this year than his nearest rival Medvedev, and without Djokovic in the field, the Spaniard can 100 percent win the US Open. So much will depend on how his body holds up. While the foot is seemingly behaving itself after the procedure post-Paris, it waits to be seen how his abdominal copes. But if anyone can play through pain, it's Nadal and he'll be desperate to add a fifth US Open title to his collection.
Connelly: There is absolutely no doubt that he can. He has come back from too many injuries, and he has won too many best-of-five grinds to ever count him out. I wouldn't call him the favorite, though. I do think this is Medvedev's tournament to lose, and Alcaraz should be a serious threat. But if he wins it all, it wouldn't be even slightly surprising.
Maine: I really love everyone's optimism here and agree that he can, I'm just not sure that he will. Nadal has played just one match -- a loss against Coric last week in Cincinnati -- since having to retire ahead of his semifinal match at Wimbledon. And that performance wasn't overly convincing that he is ready to win seven straight matches. His health remains the biggest question mark and it's unclear if he'll be able to sustain the level he needs on the hardcourt to take home the trophy.
Not to mention, he'll have some tough opposition en route. He could potentially face No. 14 seed Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round, No. 7 seed Norrie in the quarters and No. 3 seed (and 2021 US Open breakout star) Alcaraz in the semifinals. But, with all that said, if anyone can defeat the odds and find some extra late-season magic, it's Nadal. So count me in as a solid maybe.
Kumar: Unquestionably! With Djokovic out of contention, and with Nadal placed in a far more straight-forward half of the draw, this is Nadal's tournament to lose. The only two things in his path: Fellow Spaniard Alcaraz, who has had a breakthrough season with Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Barcelona, and rose to a career-high No. 4 in rankings. The second thing: his health. Nadal will have to work really hard to stay healthy throughout the tournament, focusing on making sure he doesn't play three-plus hour matches in the first week of the tournament.
Youngmisuk: Vamos! Of course, Nadal can win this Open. As always, it's about his health holding up. With no Djokovic to deal with here, Nadal is an even greater threat. There are some well-known names Nadal may have to get by but from a seed perspective, it's a good draw to the semifinals where he could face the future in Alcaraz. If he's feeling strong late in the tournament, it's hard envisioning Nadal wilting under the pressure of making history here -- like Djokovic did last year -- and not winning his 23rd major, which would match Williams' mark for most major titles in the Open Era.