With the first round of the US Open in the books, it's time to highlight which players are on the rise and which ones look most vulnerable heading into the next round. Players who have been eliminated are of little interest to fantasy owners as the tournament unfolds, so this column is meant to take a look ahead based on what's happened so far rather than reflect on the past.
Americans on both the men's and women's sides have given the crowd plenty to cheer about, and quite a few of them are primed for further success. After a relatively quiet Monday, things got spicy on the men's side Tuesday with four top-10 seeds biting the dust. Those defeats have significantly opened up the draw for certain other players. As for the women's side, things are looking up for the Williams sisters, while many of the top seeds aren't playing up to their lofty rankings.
Gael Monfils - The draw has opened up wonderfully for the 13th-seeded Monfils, who got through Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets in the first round. Potential second-round opponent Ugo Humbert lost to Marius Copil in the first round, so Humbert won't get a chance to repeat his Wimbledon upset of Monfils. All the seeds in Monfils' section of the draw were knocked out as well, so he won't have to face one until the quarterfinals at the earliest if he keeps advancing.
Nick Kyrgios - Kyrgios' section of the draw used to have two top-10 seeds, and now it has none, as both No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut were upset in the first round. The only seeded player standing between Kyrgios and his third career Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance is No. 24 Matteo Berrettini, so the enigmatic Australian has to like his chances of making a deep run, especially since he's been in form this summer, winning the Citi Open less than a month ago. He'll face 104th-ranked Antoine Hoang in the second round.
Alexander Zverev - Zverev was able to avoid the Day 2 upset plague, but he was far from convincing in the opening round, needing five sets to get through Radu Albot. The No. 6 seed has struggled with his confidence this season, winning multiple matches in only six of his last 16 tournaments. His second-round match won't be an easy one, as American opponent Frances Tiafoe will feed off the crowd and has proven himself to be a formidable foe on hard courts with a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals earlier this year.
Jenson Brooksby - After winning three matches in qualifying to get into the main draw, Brooksby extended his winning streak with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over an admittedly hobbled Tomas Berdych. The 18-year-old American still has a lot to work on – especially his serve – but he has a nice opportunity to keep his US Open run going against underwhelming No. 17 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Basilashvili has been off his game for a while, and his five-set, first-round win over Marton Fucsovics wasn't exactly convincing – he hit 29 winners compared to 72 unforced errors in the match.
Serena Williams - Serena came in with some questions about her health after battling back spasms earlier this month, but she emphatically answered those questions with a 6-1, 6-1 first-round victory over Maria Sharapova – her 19th consecutive victory in their head-to-head. A healthy Williams should have no problem cruising through the early rounds, with some similarly lopsided results likely to come against the likes of second-round opponent Catherine Mcnally. This tournament is title-or-bust for Serena, and she should still be viewed as an underdog against the field (which has rarely been the case in her career), but concerns about an early exit have just about been put to bed.
Qiang Wang - The draw has opened up beautifully for the 18th-seeded Wang with potential third-round opponent Angelique Kerber crashing out in the opening round. Wang's second-round opponent is 68th-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck, who is playing her 22nd career Grand Slam and has only gotten past the second round twice before. Should she get through that one, Wang would face another player ranked outside the top 50 in Round 3, so this is an ideal opportunity for the 27-year-old from China to finally reach the Round of 16 at a major for the first time.
Top seeds - None of the top four seeds (Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep) looked very convincing in the opening round despite facing some unimpressive opponents. Pliskova is the only one of the four that didn't need a third set to advance, and her 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) win over 138th-ranked Tereza Martincova was no cakewalk. All four will obviously remain heavy favorites in their respective second-round matches, but they've demonstrated vulnerability that should give their opponents plenty of belief. Don't be surprised to see at least one of the top four seeds get upset in Round 2.
Venus Williams - Williams has built some nice momentum heading into her second-round showdown with No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina. Venus won three matches to get to the quarterfinals in Cincinnati before losing to eventual champion Madison Keys, then kept rolling in the first round here with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Saisai Zheng. Svitolina handled Venus in straight sets on clay at the French Open to take a 2-1 lead in their career head-to-head, but Williams is much more comfortable on hard courts in her home country and is primed to make a strong upset bid.