The start of August means the start of tennis’ North American hard swing, leading up to the US Open in New York at the end of the month.
The final Grand Slam of the 2022 season starts on August 29 and there are four weeks of tournaments before then, including the ATP 1000/WTA 1000 National Bank Open and the Western & Southern Open.
While it still looks unlikely that Novak Djokovic will play any part in the North American swing, the rest of the top players from the ATP and WTA tours are set to feature, including men’s world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, who missed Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players, and women’s world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who will be aiming to add to her six titles this season. Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Emma Raducanu, Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka are also set to play over the next month.
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So without further ado, what are the burning questions we can’t wait to get answered ahead of the US Open?

Can Swiatek hit her stride again?

After such a dominant spell earlier this year, the last month – with surprising defeats at Wimbledon and the Poland Open – might have given the WTA field hope that Swiatek will not be invincible this summer. The world No. 1 stacked up 37 wins in a row before losing to Alize Cornet at SW19, dominating on clay and hard courts as she won six successive titles, including winning on hard in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami for the loss of just four sets.
But her defeat to Cornet was followed by a loss to world No. 45 Caroline Garcia in Warsaw, and now Swiatek will have to bounce back in a period of the season that is still relatively new to her. She has only played the Canadian Open once in 2019, only won one match in three visits to the Western & Southern Open, and only once made it past the third round of the US Open
There’s still a huge ranking gap between Swiatek and the field – nearly 4,000 points on the WTA rankings and even more on the Race to the WTA Finals – and if she rediscovers her best form she will likely sweep most opponents aside again. However, it might take time for Swiatek to get into her groove and perhaps that will present opportunities to others.

How will WTA field shake out?

If it’s been hard to pick out who might emerge as Swiatek’s biggest rival on clay and grass, the challenge remains the same on hard courts. There is plenty of quality in the top 10/20 but, based on this year’s results, there are no obvious candidates to compete for multiple titles over the next month. On the 2021 North American hard swing there were no repeat champions or finalists.
Some names to keep an eye on include world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit, Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur, world No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka, who is looking to get back in form, and last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
There’s also a strong American presence in the top 20.
Unfortunately Danielle Collins is set to miss the first two weeks of August due to a neck injury, but Jessica Pegula has had a strong year and is the top seed at this week’s Citi Open. Coco Gauff has also been in good form and could have success on home soil. Amanda Anisimova, who has made at least the fourth round at every major this season, is also one to keep an eye on.

Will Medvedev rule?

Medvedev has been something of the forgotten man over the last month. After returning to world No. 1 in early June, the Russian showed some promising signs on the grass before having to sit out Wimbledon and seemingly shunning the final in favour of watching Formula One.
It would not be a surprise to see him return with a determination to stamp his mark on the tour again, and it would not be surprising to see him succeed either. The North American hard swing has been Medvedev’s most successful period over the last three years, only losing once before the semi-finals in five combined appearances at the National Bank Open and Western & Southern Open, and winning each tournament once. He will also be defending US Open champion, having made the final and semi-finals in the previous two years.
Hard courts are where Medvedev is still at his very best. His laser serve and big groundstrokes are huge weapons on the surface. Even though on grass he twice failed to get over the line, losing in back-to-back finals after decent weeks, he should be set for a strong summer.

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What will happen with Djokovic?

It looks more likely than not that Djokovic will miss the entire summer – even though he still has hope and "fingers crossed" - and probably won’t play again until September as he is unvaccinated and so unable to travel to the United States or Canada.
What will that mean for his season and beyond, which is again in limbo?

Can Murray get seeded for US Open?

Murray has clear aims this summer: to get seeded for the US Open.
To make certain of that he needs to be ranked inside the top 32, and to do that he will need some good results over the next few weeks. Ahead of playing the Citi Open in Washington DC this week, Murray is ranked No. 50 in the world, only around 300 points behind world No. 32 Sebastian Baez. As the Citi Open is an ATP 500 event it doesn’t carry huge ranking points (500 to the winner, 300 for the runner-up and 180 for the semi-finalists), but the ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati offer more opportunity for Murray to close on his goal.
The plus side for Murray is that he doesn’t have many points to defend this summer. Last year he played only the Western & Southern Open and Winston-Salem Open between Wimbledon and the US Open, and only won two matches.
But the flip side is that this swing has not been great for Murray in recent years. He’s only won two matches in his last four appearances at the Western & Southern Open, where he is a two-time champion, and hasn’t made it past the second round of the US Open since 2016. Murray needs to show his best, and hope his body holds up, to have a chance of getting seeded in New York.

What does summer hold for Serena and Venus?

The Williams sisters are back.
After both returning from long absences at Wimbledon (Serena in singles and Venus in doubles), we will hopefully be seeing much more of the two tennis legends this summer. One, if not both, will be playing in Washington DC, Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open.
Venus will be playing at the Citi Open this week for the first time in her first singles outing since Chicago a year ago. Both will then be playing in Toronto, where Venus made her WTA 1000 debut as a 15-year-old in 1995, and Cincinnati. Serena is a multiple champion at both events and will be playing in the USA for the first time in two years.
For both sisters, their futures after the summer are unclear. At 42, this may be a farewell tour for Venus, but Serena, 40, sounded like she still has fire in the tank after Wimbledon and there remains the lure of a 24th Grand Slam title to finally equal Margaret Court’s record.

Alcaraz v Sinner: Who will have better swing?

After meeting in the Croatia Open final, could this be the summer that two of the hottest talents on the ATP Tour step it up another notch?
Alcaraz, 19, has already had an incredible season and is now ranked No. 4 in the world after notching up some more clay wins over the last few weeks. It will be exciting to see what he can do during the North American swing, which is still very new to him; he is yet to play the National Bank Open and lost in the first round in his only appearance at the Western & Southern last year. But perhaps a sign of what’s in store was his bulldozing run to the US Open quarter-finals in 2021 when he became the youngest man to reach that stage of the tournament in the Open era.
Sinner, 20, has been near the top of the game for longer than Alcaraz but hasn’t managed to hit the same heights yet. The Italian hasn’t yet scored a big tournament win - his victory in Croatia was his first title this year - and in a bid to give his career another boost has opted to work with Simona Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill. Sinner has said he hopes to become more “unpredictable” through working with Cahill, and his coach has backed him to challenge for Grand Slam titles soon.
“Jannik is among those who can win the Slams,” he told La Stampa. “And I mean now, not in a year's time. Already at the US Open? He moves well on concrete and his play is powerful enough for that kind of surface.”

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Will Nadal rediscover hard-court form?

Nadal might have seen his Calendar Slam bid ended at Wimbledon after withdrawing ahead his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios, but this has still been an exceptional season for the 36-year-old. Without doubt the most impressive period was at the start of the year when he returned from a five-month absence and reeled off 20 wins in a row. Some may have thought Nadal’s best days on hard courts are behind him due to his niggling injury issues, but he showed in Melbourne, Mexico and Indian Wells that he can still be a force on the surface.
Indeed, even though he has hardly played the North American swing in recent years due to injuries, he won the US Open the last time he featured in 2019, and the same with the National Bank Open, which he won in 2018 and 2019.
Nadal has been practising on hard courts Mallorca before he travels to the United States and if he’s fit he should be a strong contender for titles. There's also the chance for Nadal to win a 23rd Grand Slam title at the US Open and move two ahead of Djokovic again.

Can Osaka challenge again?

Probably at only one tournament over the last 12 months has Osaka looked like a four-time Grand Slam champion. In Australia she showed some encouraging signs, but in Miami looked to have some of her confidence back as she reached the final. Unfortunately for Osaka any momentum was slowed by the switch to clay and an Achilles' injury which has kept her out since the French Open.
It was hoped after Swiatek beat Osaka in the Miami Open final that the match-up might be one we see much more of on the WTA Tour, where strong rivalries are few and far between. But right now world No. 40 Osaka appears far from Swiatek’s level. She has only played six tournaments in the last 11 months and recently split with coach Wim Fissette, who was with her during two of her four major victories.
Osaka remains one of the sport’s biggest stars though, and at 24 she still has time on her side to win more titles. She also seems this season to have a more positive attitude and generally be in a better place, which may translate onto the court when she returns to her favourite surface this summer.

Will Tursunov bring the best out of Raducanu?

This is a big period of the year for Raducanu. After her injury issues at the back-end of the clay season and on the grass, she has had four weeks away from competition to reset and recover as she eyes the defence of her US Open title later this month. Raducanu will have 2,040 points to defend at the US Open – the most ranking points a player has ever earned from a single tournament as she also came through qualifying – and if she loses most of those due to an early exit she will plummet down the rankings.
In a bid to improve her fortunes she is working with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov at this week’s Citi Open in Washington DC. Tursunov has previously enjoyed success with Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit, helping them make the most of their powers and play aggressive brands of baseline tennis.
Raducanu was so impressive in New York last year when she took on shots and looked to attack opponents. If Tursunov can help bring some of that back then Raducanu’s results could pick up over the next month.
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