Top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic could face Roger Federer in the semi-finals and Rafael Nadal in the final under the US Open draw unveiled Thursday at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic, who defeated Federer last month in an epic Wimbledon final for his 16th Grand Slam crown, had the 20-time Grand Slam champion and third seed dropped into his half of the draw.
“The finals against Roger in Wimbledon was probably top-two in the most exciting matches I’ve ever been a part of,” Djokovic said. “It took me some time… to get back on track.”
The other match cited by the 32-year-old Serbian star was his five-set victory over Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final.
Djokovic is 26-22 all-time against Federer and 28-26 for his career against Nadal in matches among the Big Three.
Federer and Nadal, who have never played at the US Open, could only meet in the final.
Djokovic, who beat Juan Martin del Potro in last year’s US Open final, will play his first-round match against Spain’s 76th-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena.
He could be tested by South African Kevin Anderson or Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round and face in-form Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in a quarter-final.
“Most of the players study the draw to be honest,” Djokovic said. “You look at your section to see who is in there. Most of the players look further than the first round but the focus of your attention is on the first round.”
Djokovic defended his title at Wimbledon, the fifth time he has managed the feat at a Grand Slam but one he has not achieved at Flushing Meadows after wins in 2011, 2015 and last year.
“You have that additional pressure and expectations,” Djokovic said. “Over time I guess you get more used to it.
“It’s a paramount challenge, to defend a Grand Slam title. These are the tournaments you want to win the most. This is where you want to shine.”
Medvedev, who opens against 89th-ranked Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India, is coming off an ATP Cincinnati Masters crown after also reaching US Open tuneup hardcourt finals at Montreal and Washington.
Federer will open against a qualifier as will Japan’s seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori, also in his quarter of the draw.
Second seed Nadal, who won his 18th Grand Slam title at this year’s French Open, has Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem on his side of the bracket.
Nadal’s first US Open match will be against Australia’s 61st-ranked John Millman, who shocked Federer at the tournament in 2018, while fourth-seeded Thiem’s opener will be against Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano.
“This is where we’re going to reach some kind of a climax in terms of the quality of tennis and the interest of fans around the world,” Djokovic said. “It’s going to be a great tournament.”