There are many compelling storylines going into the 2019 US Open, which begins Monday in New York (watch on ESPN, ESPN2 and the ESPN App).
Our experts make their picks for the last Slam of the decade.
Who will win the men’s singles title?
Jerry Bembry: Novak Djokovic. Last year’s US Open winner has won four of the past five Grand Slams.
Pete Bodo: Rafael Nadal has taken some agonizing losses and had some bad luck (his knee injury here last September), but he also has come up big in New York when perhaps others were favored. He’ll do it again this year.
Darren Cahill: Nadal. He is primed and ready after defending his title in Canada and hasn’t overplayed coming into the Open. Lively conditions will be an advantage, and he is well placed in the draw.
Simon Cambers: Djokovic. Motivated by the possibility of chasing down Federer and Nadal, his game is where he wants it. Massive favorite.
Cliff Drysdale: Nadal. Rafa’s confidence is high after his Canada win, plus he has the best draw out of the small group of contenders.
Chris Evert: Nadal. He has looked strong in practice and continues to improve his game by working on being more aggressive.
Mary Joe Fernandez: Nadal. He has the better draw out of the Big Three and is coming off a strong win in Canada.
Brad Gilbert: I will be shocked if the Big Three do not make it 12 Slam wins in a row based on the draw. Rafa is my first pick, with Djoker as my second favorite.
Sam Gore: Nadal. Rafa arrives in New York as fresh as he has been in years — having defended his title in Montreal — and a healthy, happy and determined Nadal usually results in a title. Also, he has the bonus of a draw that avoids Djokovic and Federer en route to the final.
Luke Jensen: Nick Kyrgios. The Australian will be the 2019 US Open men’s singles champion. No one in the game is so polarizing and positively electric. The tennis gods have given him everything in the talent department, and he should be ready to produce something very special on the sport’s biggest stage.
D’Arcy Maine: Djokovic. After his convincing win at Wimbledon over Federer, Djokovic is making a strong case for himself in the GOAT debate and probably should be the default pick for any tournament played on hard court or grass. Sure, he has played in just one tournament since the All England Club — he lost in the semis in Cincinnati — but it still feels like he is virtually unbeatable when playing at his best level.
Patrick Mouratoglou: Djokovic. He has been dominating the men’s game for more than a year now, winning four of the past five Grand Slams.
Pam Shriver: Djokovic. He is best hard-court player in the world, and I trust his fitness over two weeks on the surface more than anyone else.
Rennae Stubbs: Djokovic. There is no better men’s player in the best-of-five format on hard courts than Novak. He has been the most dominant player in the men’s game over the past decade of Grand Slams and once again will be the man to beat, no matter who’s in his way.
And on the women’s side of the draw?
Bembry: Serena Williams, who has vastly improved since last year’s final. In a women’s tennis field that has been wide open over the past three years, why not Serena?
Bodo: Madison Keys surprised many, including herself, when she won Cincinnati last week. She will capitalize on her momentum to finally lock down that elusive first major at a time when anything goes in the WTA.
Cahill: Serena. She has a tough first-round opponent on paper in Maria Sharapova, but in reality, it will be a comfortable matchup if Williams is engaged and ready. A strong start from Serena will spell trouble for the rest of the field.
Cambers: Madison Keys: Runner-up a couple of years ago; back in form; could be her time on home soil.
Drysdale: Serena Williams. She is still the class of the field after all these years.
Evert: Serena. She is playing the best she has since she came back a year and a half ago. She is moving better, and she wants No. 24.
Fernandez: Serena. She is more match-tough heading into Open after reaching the final in Toronto.
Gilbert: Bianca Andreescu. Had she not gotten hurt after Indian Wells, she would already be within the top 3.
Gore: Ashleigh Barty. This is the perfect surface for her game — not too fast and not too slow. She is mentally and emotionally settled into being a top player, and if she’s playing at her best, Barty will take her second major of the year after breaking through at the French Open in June.
Jensen: Madison Keys. I like players who go into majors on a roll, and after winning a big warm-up event in Cincinnati, Keys is ready to win in the N.Y.C.
Maine: There’s a case to be made for at least 10 players here, so this is incredibly difficult. But I’m going to follow the recent trend of first-time Grand Slam champions at the US Open and pick 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu. She has dealt with a shoulder injury for a large portion of the season, but when she has been able to play, she has been almost unstoppable. She won titles in Toronto and Indian Wells this year and also made a final appearance in Auckland. This could very well be her major moment.
Mouratoglou: Serena Williams. She is getting more and more fit since giving birth. She is still the best competitor, especially on this stage.
Shriver: Simona Halep. She is ready to go back-to-back in majors. Her performance at Wimbledon, her least favorite surface, was next-level great. That win should catapult her to more majors at a time when not many women are prepared to win multiple majors.
Stubbs: Serena Williams. At Slams, she gets that extra day off between matches, which allows her to handle any physical ailments. She is the greatest player ever at Slam level: She knows better than anyone how to do it, manage it and get the job done. She has come so close over the past two years; this is where she’ll finally win that record-tying 24th Slam.
Which player will be the biggest surprise in the men’s draw?
Bembry: Daniil Medvedev. Maybe “surprise run” isn’t the best description. But Medvedev — playing his best tennis right now — is in the best position to shake up the Big Three.
Bodo: David Goffin, the No. 15 seed, has a sweet draw and is light on his feet, versatile and coming off a final (Cincinnati) — all of which could land him in a fourth-round showdown with No. 3 seed Roger Federer.
Cahill: Roberto Bautista Agut. He is a tough out in five sets and enters the tournament in good form. Hard court is his preferred surface, and he is best placed to go deep.
Cambers: It won’t be that big a surprise, since he reached the semis last year, but Bautista Agut — the most underrated player on Tour.
Drysdale: Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has one more year of experience and has that champion-type attitude.
Evert: Auger-Aliassime. He isn’t intimidated by the big names on the tour. He has a versatile game and is agile on the court.
Fernandez: Karen Khachonov. He is having more consistent results, and played a great match before losing to Nadal in the Round of 36 at last year’s Open.
Gilbert: There are a handful of different possibilities here, so it’s difficult to choose. But I kind of want to pick a young American getting a shot against Lucas Pouille.
Gore: Medvedev. His summer has been incredible on hard courts — runner-up in D.C. and Montreal and champion in Cincy. He’s got big-time momentum.
Jensen: Jenson Brooksby. The American has the chance to do something special in his home Slam. Brooksby (JT is his nickname) won three matches in qualifiers, showing big-time tennis in the biggest moments. He is gifted with an all-court game and a very dangerous backhand down the line that reminds me of Andre Agassi, and both could create problems for opponents. This big kid, who has committed to Baylor University for this fall, could be soon taking his talents to the ATP Tour after a run here.
Maine: Medvedev. In any other scenario calling the world No. 5 a “surprise” would feel disingenuous, but in the current world of men’s tennis, anyone outside of the Big Three has to be considered a long shot for a title. The 23-year-old Medvedev is having a breakthrough summer with a win in Cincinnati (including a victory over Djokovic in the semis), as well as final appearances at in Montreal and Washington, D.C. He has the potential to make a deep run in Queens.
Mouratoglou: David Goffin. He is playing strong coming into the tournament and has a favorable draw early on.
Stubbs: Medvedev. This guy loves to play tennis, loves the challenge of it. He has big weapons, including a huge serve and flat ballstriking, and most importantly, he has fun with the spotlight and crazy atmosphere, perfect for the US Open. He will go deep in this tournament, and we’ll have fun watching him do it.
Which women’s player will make a surprise run?
Bembry: Naomi Osaka. The defending champion might be the top seed, but Osaka hasn’t won a tournament since the Australian Open in January and has been battling a knee injury. Perhaps a return to the place where she won her first slam will get her back on track.
Bodo: The tempting answer would be “all of them,” but gritty 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu’s exploits in Toronto fairly scream, “Here I come, New York!”
Cahill: Sofia Kenin. Her game has grown in power, confidence, belief and intelligence. She is improving by the week and comes into New York on a hot streak.
Cambers: Kiki Bertens. With no pressure on her shoulders — exactly how she likes it — she could ease through the draw and make a big run.
Drysdale: Madison Keys, whose confidence is high after a superlative showing in Cincinnati.
Evert: Kenin. The 20-year-old has had success against some of the top players on the tour. Fearless, hungry.
Fernandez: Keys. She is on a roll after winning the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and has been to final in New York.
Gilbert: There are so many talented women in the draw, but I liked what I saw from Svetlana Kuznetsova in Cincinnati (she reached the final before losing to Keys). Why couldn’t we see more of the same at the Open?
Gore: Keep your eye on 20-year-old Elena Rybakina. She won the Bucharest Open and saw her ranking skyrocket — but after the cutoff for the US Open. Therefore, she was forced to play in qualifying despite being 67th in the rankings. She dominated her matches and has competed with an attitude of a player with something to prove.
Jensen: I like confident Americans in the US Open. Coco Gauff is a storm of confidence and big game, and Wimbledon was just the start. Her serve, speed and composure are amazing for someone who is just 15 years old. I see balance in the brilliance, on and off the court.
Maine: In the unpredictable world of women’s tennis, I’m not sure there are such things as surprises as this point. But Madison Keys is coming off an impressive victory at the Western & Southern Open and could definitely do some damage. Nearing elimination in the first round in Cincinnati against Garbine Muguruza, it was like something clicked for Keys late in the second set, and she forced a decider — and then went on to beat several high-quality opponents, including Simona Halep, Venus Williams and a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the trophy. Expect her to bring her newfound confidence to New York — a place where she has proved she knows what it takes to get to the final.
Mouratoglou: Andreescu. After battling through injuries this past year, she is healthy heading into the US Open.
Shriver: Andreescu. She is my outside pick because she has proved to be a great clutch player in a short amount of time. Her injuries have kept her from performing at majors this year, but if healthy, she could be your 2019 US Open winner.
Stubbs: Keys. She comes in with confidence, and when she is confident, she’s hitting it in and with her power; no one hits it in harder than Maddy. Winning Cincinnati lets her opponents know she’s still got it. She has two titles this year, so in her mind, this has been a successful year, no matter what happens at the Open. The pressure is off; she can have fun at this tournament and be dangerous because of it.