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Expert Picks: Who will win the US Open in 2023?


With their rivalry so finely poised, is it Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic with the upper hand should they meet in another Grand Slam final? And is there anyone – like Toronto champion Jannik Sinner – who can disrupt their duopoly at the majors?

With Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula flying, will we see a home-grown women’s champion at the US Open? Or will the unofficial ‘Big Three’ re-establish their supremacy?

And who will win the men’s and women’s singles titles in New York?

We chatted to our experts to find out more, before the action kicks off on Monday 28 August.

Our panel

Todd Woodbridge: A nine-time men's doubles champion at Wimbledon (the tournament record)
Alicia Molik: Former world No.8 and now Australian Billie Jean King Cup captain
Casey Dellacqua: Former top-30 singles player and top-five doubles player
Nicole Pratt: Former world No.35 and now Australia's Billie Jean King Cup coach 
Simon Rea: Former coach of Nick Kyrgios and Sam Stosur

Who holds the ascendancy in the rivalry: Alcaraz, by winning their Wimbledon final, or Djokovic, who won their most recent final on hard court in Cincinnati?

WOODBRIDGE: "Djokovic must feel and know that so many of his opponents get to a point in a match where they realise, in their own minds at least, they are done. And he knows he's got them. Alcaraz is a young competitor for the first time who’s come along and said: I'm just going to keep throwing everything I have at you. And that (Cincinnati final) was a really relevant piece of information that came out of that particular match.”

LISTEN: US Open preview on The AO Show podcast

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Writing his own history

MOLIK: "I think if that Cincy final was a Grand Slam final, then Alcaraz is winning it, because Novak had suffered heat-stroke; I think he felt he could clinch it in three (sets). I'm not so sure he would have thought the same if he had to clinch it in five, with the way he was feeling physically. I feel like Alcaraz still has that little edge, because it'll be five (sets), not three (in New York). I just feel like Djokovic is starting to get a bit more vulnerable. In the Wimbledon final there were a few little glitches. I probably say Alcaraz has the edge; I don't think it's about level, I think it might just be youth – being able to bounce back exceptionally well.”

PRATT: "Cincinnati was huge for Djokovic, after the disappointment of losing Wimbledon. Cincy is best-of-three sets; both have the stamina to go five, there's no question. Djokovic is the ultimate professional, knows his body incredibly well, and there's the youthfulness of Alcaraz. Two weeks in New York is a long time, and we keep saying it, that Djokovic just knows how to manage himself. And for that pure reason, I feel that Djokovic, again, is the favourite going in.”

REA: "I tend to weight the result in the Grand Slam final. Alcaraz climbing over the top of Novak in that match – I don't think too many of us predicted that, not on a grass court where Novak's been so dominant. But (I also) think about the momentum of the two individuals; Carlos has had to really work in the North American swing so far, dropped a bunch of sets. Whereas Novak didn't drop a set prior to the final in Cincinnati. The actual head-to-head narrative seems impossible to split, but the ability to make life easier for yourself by the time you might get to that clash deep in a Slam, that data tilts the scales in Novak's favour.”

Jannik Sinner won the other hard-court Masters title in Toronto; what are his chances of a major breakthrough at the US Open?

WOODBRIDGE: "I think his chances are high, but for me I think you have to get Novak out of the equation. That's the most important one. I think he can take out Alcaraz in a big match like that; we saw one of the great matches of the year last year when they played each other in the quarterfinal. His consistency for me is key. The ability at Wimbledon to reach a semi... If there's three players who can win the tournament now, it would be Novak at No.1, Carlos at No.2, and then Sinner is the best of the next ones.”

DRAW: US Open men's singles

MOLIK: “One-hundred per cent, I feel like this could be the time that Sinner comes into his own. It's a two-week event, and it's amazing that in men's tennis lots of people are only talking about two guys (Djokovic and Alcaraz). Sinner could win the title, because compared to 12-18 months back, I really feel like he's made lots of gains. I feel he's much better with his aggressive game, shortening points, flattening out the ball, looking to come in. I think he's using his speed more to help him win points quicker, not just to keep himself in points. His game can match-up on a quicker surface like the US Open. He's got a booming serve, but we don't really talk about it."

DELLACQUA: "I do think that Novak and Carlos are just that level above probably anyone else at the moment. Whoever it is, Sinner or another of the male players, they're going to have to really come out and play their best tennis over the length of five sets.”

PRATT: "I don't think he's quite there yet, personally. I think he's still very much growing into his body; his frame is not quite there, in terms of the rigours that two weeks at a Grand Slam takes, and the toll on the body. I think he'll do well, but I genuinely don't think he's a contender when you put him up against Alcaraz or Djokovic."

REA: "I think this guy's inching closer all the time. I think this is the next most likely suspect to knock off the 'Big Two', if you like. My attention will go to see how he can progress through in the first week, and how much energy he can save up for when those titanic battles ensue in the second week in New York. I think we see the Darren Cahill factor.”

With Gauff and Pegula scooping the three biggest women's titles leading in, how likely is a home-gown winner of the US Open?

WOODBRIDGE: "I think it's getting closer. I think it comes down to belief, from either of them, at the end of the tournament. Watching Jess at the big tournaments at the moment, she's got through to quarters, and it's almost as if (she thinks) ‘oh, this is pretty good, can I go further?' Her game hasn't I think evolved enough. Whereas I think Coco, if she got into that position, she could run with it. I think she's gaining that experience to be able to win one.”

MOLIK: "I hope they treat New York like they do the lead-in events, because there's just always that added element of hype. I was so pleased Gauff overcame her Swiatek hurdle, because I think now, 100 per cent, she would believe she can win a Slam. I feel like she's playing more confidently than she has in the past. I feel like she can do it.”

DELLACQUA: "If there's anyone that I feel like can thrive off the home crowd, that's Coco Gauff. I'm impressed with Jess Pegula's tennis, always am, always have been. But I think there's always one match where she just can't seem to find something to really get over that hill of pushing the back end of the Slams, post quarters. Coco is definitely up there as one of my favourites.”

DRAW: US Open women's singles

PRATT: "I think the US Open's up for grabs. Coco, with Brad Gilbert on board, I think it's pretty exciting to think what she potentially could achieve. Her confidence is sky-high after winning Cincy, and probably the way she did it, as well; everyone is talking about this newfound belief, and using the strengths she's got, not focusing on what could be better. I think that's very much the Brad Gilbert effect. He knows how to deal with two weeks in New York, as well. Pegula, we talk about her consistency; she's constantly someone that's there and abouts.”

Brad Gilbert watches Coco Gauff train ahead of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. [Getty Images]

REA: "The narrative around Coco Gauff for quite some time has been 'oh, there's a technical flaw on the forehand side, there's a rebuild that's gotta take place there'. And all of the language, evidently, from Brad Gilbert, was around everything but that: ‘tactically, we're going to totally shift your return position, we're going to play to your strengths more.’ I reckon there's a lot to be said for that real strengths-based coaching. That type of mentality has clearly had an impact (on her), and I think she goes in as the player to beat.”

They might not have enjoyed the summer success of Gauff and Pegula, but how are the Big Three – Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina – placed for success in New York? And which of them looks strongest?

MOLIK: "I think the Big Three are the bigger players in the conversation, still. Going back to the stage at a Grand Slam, balancing out two weeks of matches and play; they know how to manage it, what to expect, how to come through those difficult situations. I always consider form such an important thing, but I think when you've been there, done that, felt it, lived through it, pushed yourself to the other end and been a Grand Slam champion, there's no replacement for that, too.”

DELLACQUA: "We've been talking about the Big Three for most of this year, and it seems now that group's kind of expanded – Karolina Muchova, Ons Jabeur – as the year's gone on. And it's now who can really put in a great performance over the two weeks and get there at the end of the Slam.”

PRATT: "I reckon there's maybe eight players potentially who could win it... Probably Swiatek at the end of the day. She's the No.1 player in the world for a reason. I don't think a loss is such a bad thing sometimes, because it makes you reflect on what you can do a little bit better. She's got the earlier rounds at the Slam, to potentially iron out some of the things that she'd like to improve on as she works her way through the tournament. She'd probably still be No.1 for me.”

REA: "I think Iga separates herself with the consistency of performance. We've raved about it for so long on the men's side, in terms of what we've seen from Roger, Rafa, Novak and Andy, and now we're starting to see that type of relentless consistency from Iga. You can get her, but you're going to have to get her deep in an event – it took Pegula and Gauff, 6-4 in the third, of both Montreal and Cincinnati – and those are some of the very best players in the world. So she's putting herself in the mix week after week. And I think she still continues to elevate or separate herself a little bit over and above Sabalenka and Rybakina.”

Who will be the US Open singles champions in 2023?

WOODBRIDGE: "I think Novak is primed; I think there's a different type of stress and pressure on Alcaraz to defend a US Open title. This is the first time he's going to be walking into that space. And I just think Novak is still playing amazing tennis. And I'm going with Iga again, on the women's side. The hard-court (season) hasn't been perfect but I think it's just priming nicely for her again at the US Open.”

MOLIK: "My favourites for the title are Sabalenka, and Alcaraz."

DELLACQUA: "I'm gonna go with Novak, and I'm going with Coco Gauff, I'm just doing it, I'm just gonna pick that she will ride this wave of back-to-back tournaments and go into the US Open with so much confidence.”

PRATT: "I'm gonna go with Djokovic, again. Women, I'm probably gonna go Iga."

REA: "I wouldn't be surprised if Gauff won; I just think there's so much to be said for that element of believing in your strengths and bringing them to the table when it's really on the line. On the men's side, I suspect what's likely to happen is when Sinner and Alcaraz are potentially waiting for Novak at the business end, Djokovic being able to dispatch people in a relatively straightforward fashion in the first week of the event is going to serve him so well. I think that will be the decisive factor. I think we see Novak get it done again in New York."