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Winning tips for ESPN’s ‘Tennis Major Pick’em

Introducing Tennis Major Pick’em New York.

Tennis Major Pick’em is a free-to-play game in which you answer a series of questions related to the upcoming U.S. Open tennis Grand Slam, which starts on Monday, August 30, and ends Sunday, September 12. You can play against your friends, while also trying to climb the overall leaderboard in order to win prizes. A perfect score will make you $100,000 richer!

Listed below are the 14 questions you’ll need to answer in order to participate. Also included is some background information on each topic. I worked with the ESPN Stats and Information Group to supply some nuggets of info to help guide you through your decision-making process, but I did not offer up exactly where I landed on each question. Why? Well, we’re fantasy players, too, and we’re here to win. Good luck!


1. Who will win the Men’s Singles Championship?

Djokovic has won all three majors played this year, and has the incredibly rare opportunity to win the calendar year Grand Slam. He also sits tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles, most in history, and with Federer and Nadal both out he has the chance to hold the record by himself. Djokovic is 43-6 on hard courts since the start of 2020, and his overall record this season is 38-5 with four championships in nine tournaments played.

Medvedev is in the midst of the best season of his career, having reached at least the fourth round of all three majors this season, highlighted by a finals appearance at the Australian Open. Medvedev has also played particularly well at the US Open, having made the semifinals last season after making the finals in 2019. Medvedev’s record on hard courts this season is 28-5, after he went 28-8 on the surface last season, and on the year he has three titles in 14 tournaments entered.

Zverev is scorching right now, having won the gold medal in men’s singles at the 2020 Olympics and the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event both within the month of August. His record in Grand Slam matches this season stands at 12-3, after he went 14-3 last season, and he’s made at least the fourth round in all six majors played in that span. He was a finalist at the US Open last season, and lost a heartbreaker in the fifth set to Dominic Thiem. On the season, he is 20-5 on hard courts and has won titles in four of the 13 tournaments he has entered.

2. Who will win the Women’s Singles Championship?

Osaka has won four of the last six hard court majors, including the 2021 Australian Open and 2020 US Open. She’s won two of the last three US Opens, and is 31-5 on hard courts in the last two years. However, she also stepped away from tennis this summer for mental health reasons, leaving the French Open in the second round and sitting out Wimbledon completely. Since her return, she’s lost in the third round of both the 2020 Olympics and the Cincinnati Open completed this month.

Barty won the most recent Grand Slam, Wimbledon, and also won the most recent WTA 1000 event at the Cincinnati Open this month. She has gone 40-7 overall this season, including 19-3 on hard courts, and has won titles in five of 12 tournaments entered. However, the US Open is the major where she’s had the least success, the only one in which she has never advanced beyond the fourth round. She missed the 2020 US Open due to COVID, but has reached the quarterfinal and semifinal of the last two hard court majors she’s played at the Australian Open.

Sabalenka made the semifinals at Wimbledon this summer, her best career finish in any major. She made the fourth round at the US Open in 2018, but has exited in the second round in each of the last two seasons. Sabalenka is 41-15 on hard courts in the last two seasons, and is 38-14 this season with two titles in 16 tournaments.

3. Over/Under 17.5 seeded Singles players to lose in the First Round?

During the past 14 Grand Slams from 2018 through 2021, a total of 103 seeded men and 99 seeded women have lost in the first round. This breaks down to an average of 14.4 seeded men and women to lose in the first round each tournament. During that same time period, an average of 12.3 seeded men and women have lost in the first round at the last three U.S. Opens, but only eight in 2020.

4. Over/Under 10.5 Men’s Singles matches go to a fifth set in the First Round?

During the last 11 Grand Slams, from the 2018 U.S. Open to present, 246 Men’s Singles matches have gone to a 5th set in the first round, for an average of 22.4 per tournament. The average is even higher in the three U.S. Open’s during that span, with 26 going to a fifth set in 2020, 34 in 2019 and 12 in 2018 for an average of 24 per U.S. Open.

5. What will be Jannik Sinner’s tournament result:

Sinner didn’t advanced beyond the first round of the US Open in either of his first two trips to the U.S. Open. The French Open is the only major in which he’s ever advanced past the second round, making it to the fourth round this season after making the quarterfinals last season. He is 20-8 on hard courts this season. He made the Final of the Miami Open, but otherwise has not advanced past the second round of any other Master 1000 event he’s entered this season.

6. What will be Coco Gauff’s tournament result?

Gauff is in the midst of the best season of her young career, having advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon after setting a new career-best finish by making the quarterfinals of the French Open. She has also advanced to at least the quarterfinals of three of the six WTA 1000 tournaments she has entered this season. However, she missed the Olympics due to a COVID 19 diagnosis, and in her return she only advanced to the second round of the Cincinnati Open this month.

7. Who will advance further in the tournament?

Tsisipas has never advanced beyond the third round of the U.S. Open, which he accomplished for the first time last year. He made the finals of the French Open this summer, his best finish in a major, and has made the semifinals three other times. Two of those semis came in the Australian Open, also on hard court. He is just coming off a semifinal finish at the Cincinnati Masters, and is 25-8 on hard courts this season. Overall, he has made the final of five of the 17 tournaments he’s entered this season, winning two.

Rublev’s best career finish in a major is the quarterfinals, which he’s done four times including last year’s U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open. He has advanced to at least the semifinals in three of the six Masters 1000 events he’s entered this season, including making the finals of the recent Cincinnati Masters. He is 25-7 on hard courts this season, and 41-14 overall. He’s made the finals in four of the 15 tournaments he’s played this season, winning one.

8. Who will advance further in the tournament?

Berretini has set new personal bests in each of the three majors this season, making the fourth round of the Australian Open, the quarterfinals at the French Open and the finals at Wimbledon. Prior to this season, the U.S. Open was clearly his most successful major, with a semifinal appearance in 2019 and a round of 16 appearance in 2020. Berretini is 33-8 this season, has made the final in four of the 11 events he’s played and won twice.

Shapolavov made the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Open, his best finish in four entries, but he has made at least the third round each time. He made the semifinals at Wimbledon this season, his best finish in any major, and tied his career best with a third round finish at this year’s Australian Open. Shapovalov has struggled on hard courts overall in the last two seasons, with a 19-21 record. He has not won any of the 15 tournaments he’s entered this season, and has made one final.

9. Who will advance further in the tournament?

Pliskova made the finals of the 2016 U.S. Open, the quarterfinals of the next two, the fourth round in 2019 but only the second round in 2020. She made the Wimbledon final this year, her best finish in that event by three rounds. Pliskova has had some success this season, including a semifinal appearance at this month’s Cincinnati Open. ON the season, she is 16-9 on hard courts and 30-16 overall with three finals appearances but no tournament wins.

Kenin had her career season to date in 2020, setting personal best finishes in all three majors played including her only Grand Slam win at the Australian Open. She made the fourth round of the 2020 U.S. Open, after making the third round in her three previous appearances. Kenin is dealing with a foot injury, and hasn’t played since Wimbledon. She has gone 6-5 on hard courts this season and 10-10 overall, with no titles or finals appearances.

10. Who will advance further in the tournament?

Swiatek has played in two U.S. Opens, finishing in the third round in 2020 after making the second round in her debut. This season, she made the fourth round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the French Open. She is 12-6 on hard courts this season and 28-10 overall, with two titles in 12 tournaments entered.

Muguruza has only advanced beyond the second round of the U.S. Open once in eight apperances, a fourth round finish in 2017. She has won two majors on different surfaces, one each on the clay of the French Open and the grass of Wimbledon, but did advance to the finals of the 2020 Australian Open on hard courts. She did make the quarterfinals of the Olympics on hard court, and made the third round of the Cincinnati Open this month. On the year, she’s 24-8 on hard courts and 31-13 overall, with three finals appearances and one title in 14 tournaments.

Kvitova has reached the third round in eight of the last nine US Opens, including a fourth round finish last season. She hasn’t advanced past the second round in any major this season, but is fresh off a quarterfinals appearance at the hardcourt Cincinnati Open this month. She is 13-8 on hard courts and 24-14 overall this season, with one title in 15 tournaments.

Halep is dealing with injuries that have kept her out of tournament action for months. In addition, she missed last season’s U.S. Open and hasn’t advanced past the second round since 2016. She did, however, make the semifinal and quarterfinal of her last two hard court majors at the Australian Open, and she is 18-5 on hard courts during those two years. Before you lock your picks, though, make sure Halep is playing.

12. Will an unseeded player reach the Men’s or Women’s Singles Semifinals?

During the last 11 majors, going back to the 2018 U.S. Open, two unseeded men and five unseeded women have made it to the semifinals of a Grand Slam. In the last three U.S. Opens, there has only been one man and zero women to make the semifinals. There are major injuries among the top seeds of both the men and women, which has led to several high level withdrawals, which could open more opportunities for upsets this year.

13. How many Americans will make the Men’s and Women’s Singles Third Round?

During the past 11 Grand Slams, American men have made 31 appearances and American women have made 66 appearances in the third round. This yields an average of 8.8 Americans in the third round per major during that stretch. There were 30 instances where Americans advanced to at least the third round of the three U.S. Opens during that span, an average of 10 per tournament. Three American men and 11 American women made the third round of the 2020 U.S. Open.

14. Will either 1 seed in the Men’s and Women’s Singles lose before the Quarterfinals?

During the past 14 Grand Slams from 2018 through 2021, two top seeded men and nine top seeded women have lost before the quarterfinals. Among the men, four of their eight losses overall came due to either retiring during the match due to injury or a disqualification. Both the top men’s and women’s seeds have lost before the quarterfinals in each of the last two U.S. Opens played. Novak Djokovic is the top-seeded man this season, as he’s been for the last two seasons, and has won all three majors played this season. Ash Barty is the top seed for the women, and she has never made it past the fourth round of the U.S. Open.