2022 has come with an air of familiarity in men’s tennis, as both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have owned the slams, defying the years and numerous challenges along the way.
With one major to go this year, we look to Flushing Meadows knowing it has often been the point of difference on the Men’s tour.
15 of the last 17 slam titles have been won by either Djokovic or Nadal. With the exception being the last two US Opens, won by Thiem and Medvedev.
If we take it back further to 2008, nine different players have won the US Open, with 13 different men appearing in the final.
All of the other majors have had just four winners in the same time frame, with nine (Aus Open), 10 (French Open) and 11 (Wimbledon) men appearing in those finals.
Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro, Marin Cilic and Daniil Medvedev have all won what is so far the only slam of their careers at the US Open, whilst Andy Murray won his first major in New York in 2012, with Stan Wawrinka claiming his third title in another upset win over Djokovic in 2016.
The Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have still been well represented, winning eight US Open titles between them since 2008, but this still drops away compared to the other majors.
14 Australian Opens have been won by the trio since 2008, with only Stan Wawrinka in 2014 able to break that run.
At the French Open it is a similar story, 14 of the 15 have been won by the big three, with only Wawrinka breaking the run.
At Wimbledon it is 11 of 13, with Murray’s pair of victories the only circuit breaker.
Since 1997, nine players have won their maiden slam title at the US Open, compared to two at Wimbledon, four at the Australian Open and six at the French.
Significantly, no player has gone back-to-back at the US Open on the men’s side since Federer’s five in a row from 2004-2008.
In the years since, it has happened 11 times at the other three majors combined.
With Djokovic unlikely to play due to vaccine requirements, Nadal battling the aftermath of injury, and Federer in the twilight of his career, the likelihood of another fresh face is strong.
Could the resurgent Thiem win again? Or will Medvedev put a tricky year behind him and break the back-to-back curse?
Or could a sufficiently recovered Zverev get his breakthrough moment, or even the young superstar Carlos Alcaraz.
Expect plenty of fresh faces from the slam that has defied the dominance of the big three like no other event in recent years.
Interestingly the Women’s side of the draw has been a contrast, which stands out as a surprise given the very open nature of the WTA tour in the last six or so years.
On the Women’s side, we have also had nine individual winners of the US Open since 2008, just like on the men’s side, and 17 individual finalists.
However, it is 10 winners and 20 finalists in Australia, 12 winners and 21 finalists in Paris and 10 winners with 16 finalists at SW19.
The event has still served as a breakout though, with ten players winning their first slam title at the US Open since 1997. This compares to seven at the Australian Open, six at Wimbledon and a staggering 12 at the French Open.
Five players since 2011 have won what is so far the only slam of their career at Flushing Meadows. These are Sam Stosur, Emma Raducanu, Sloane Stephens, Bianca Andreescu and Flavia Pennetta.
Last year’s decider, between Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez was also the second time in five years where two players reached their maiden career final at the same time.
The US Open often feels like a rock concert by comparison to the other majors, and the tendency to throw up a surprise is a major factor. This year’s event should be a fascinating instalment.