Saturday, December 9, 2023

Tennis, 2023 US Open preview: Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek look to defend titles – full schedule and how to watch live

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There are as many storylines to follow at the 2023 US Open as there are skyscrapers in Manhattan for the fourth and final Grand Slam of the tennis season.

The ones that rise above feature defending champions Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek, who are both looking to win their second major of the year after Alcaraz halted Novak Djokovic in an instant classic at Wimbledon last month and Swiatek claimed her third Roland-Garros in June.

Djokovic looms tall, too, making his first appearance in New York City since 2020. He and Alcaraz played a three-hour, 49-minute final at the ATP 1000 stop in Cincinnati on Sunday (20 August), a final that Djokovic claimed after saving a match point in the second set.

Novak’s fellow Cincy champ Coco Gauff brings her own confidence from the Midwest to the Big Apple, the 19-year-old winning the biggest title of her career with a win over fellow major finallist Karolina Muchova to hoist the trophy in Cincinnati.

Here, a look at the stories to watch for the US Open fortnight, plus the full tournament schedule and how you can tune in to watch live.

Men: Alcaraz-Djokovic could be set for Wimbledon repeat

“It’s one of the toughest and most exciting matches that I’ve ever been a part of.”

Those were the words of Djokovic on Sunday after his nearly four-hour epic over Alcaraz, who he now holds a 2-2 head-to-head record against. The 20-year-old Spaniard will maintain the world No.1 ranking heading into the US Open, but Djokovic is No.2, meaning they could likely face off in a second consecutive Grand Slam final.

Alcaraz has proved himself on the biggest stages, with his five-setter at Wimbledon being lauded as an all-time performance against Djokovic, who remains parked at 23 majors won, a tie for the Open Era (since 1968) record with Serena Williams.

The Serb will go for No.24 and a tie of the all-time record at the US Open, and likely foes include 2021 US Open winner Daniil Medvedev; Danish upstart Holger Rune; Toronto winner from two weeks ago Jannik Sinner; and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek superstar.

Women: Swiatek, Gauff, Pegula among favourites

While Swiatek is the reigning US Open champion and world No.1, Gauff scored her first win over the Pole in Cincinnati on her eighth try, having never won a set in their previous seven meetings. But the American has re-tooled her game after a first-round exit at Wimbledon, adding famed coach Brad Gilbert to her team.

“[That win] gives me confidence that I have the ability,” Gauff said of her semi-final triumph over Swiatek. “She’s a four-time Grand Slam champion, world No. 1. It shows that I can be at that level.”

Gauff’s Cincinnati win came a week after her compatriot and oft doubles partner Jessica Pegula had upset Swiatek in the semi-finals in Montreal, going on to hoist the title herself. It marks the first time since 2004 that two American women have swept the biggest WTA events leading into New York.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka remains the No.2 seed (meaning she’ll be opposite Swiatek in the draw), while 2022 Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina rounds out the top four with Swiatek, Sabalenka and Pegula.

Others to watch include last year’s runner-up Ons Jabeur, as well as Muchova, who made her top 10 debut Monday (21 August) and Wimbledon champ Marketa Vondrousova, the world No.9.

NYC storylines aplenty; Venus plays on at 43

No, you’re not mistaken: That’s Venus Williams in the draw at age 43.

The ageless elder Williams sister scored her first top 20 win last week in Cincinnati, beating Veronika Kudermetova to prove – once again – that she still has what it takes to compete with the top echelon.

Fellow former US Open champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are set to be in the singles draw, while the men’s field remains an Alcaraz-and-Djokovic vs. everyone else dynamic.

Three American men – Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul – look to break a 20-year drought at the majors for U.S. men, but none have made a Grand Slam final just yet. The recent form of 2022 US Open runner-up Casper Ruud has been in question, while Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev is looking stronger and stronger after making a return from missing the second half of last year.

A number of women could make a deep run, including last year’s semifinalist Caroline Garcia and three-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka. 2018 Australian Open Caroline Wozniacki plays in her third event after returning from maternity leave.

2023 US Open: Full schedule

The qualifying event kicks off today (22 August), with spots at stake in both the men’s and women’s singles draws, which will be made on Thursday. The main draw kicks off on Monday (28 August).

All times are local New York City (Eastern US EDT).

Monday & Tuesday, 28 & 29 August
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – first round

Wednesday, 30 August
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – second round; doubles begins

Thursday, 31 August
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – second round

Friday & Saturday, 1 & 2 September
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – third round

Sunday & Monday, 3 & 4 September
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – fourth round

Tuesday, 5 September
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – quarter-finals; wheelchair events begin

Wednesday, 6 September
1100    Men’s and women’s singles – quarter-finals

Thursday, 7 September
1100    Men’s doubles semi-finals
1900    Women’s singles semi-finals

Friday, 8 September
Noon   Men’s or mixed doubles final; women’s doubles semi-finals
1500    Men’s singles semi-finals
1900    Men’s singles semi-finals

Saturday, 9 September
1200    Men’s or mixed doubles final; wheelchair finals
1600    Women’s singles final

Sunday, 10 September
1200    Wheelchair finals
1300    Women’s doubles final
1600    Men’s singles final

You can find the full tournament schedule here. The daily schedule – known in tennis as the order of play – can be found here.

2023 US Open: How to watch live

The US Open airs domestically in the U.S. on ESPN and its streaming platforms. New this year is Sky Sports UK taking over for Amazon Prime for fans in Great Britain, while Eurosport remains the broadcaster for much of the rest of Europe, including France.

Other notable broadcast territories:

WOWOW has coverage in Japan; Channel Nine in Australia; Sport Deutschland in Germany; TSN in Canada; CCTV in the People’s Republic of China; and Movistar+ in Spain.

You can find a full list of US Open broadcast partners here.

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