With the fourth 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 players 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.
Novak Djokovic's shocking disqualification for hitting a linesperson with a ball has thrown the door wide open in the men's draw, as we're going to have a new Grand Slam champion with none of the Big 3 left. On the women's side, only two of the eight quarterfinalists are seeded in the top 15, as two of the pre-tournament favorites are on a collision course for a rematch of the 2018 championship match.
The non-Djokovic favorites - With the heavy favorite out of the draw, No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, No. 3 Daniil Medvedev and No. 5 Alexander Zverev are the players best positioned to capitalize and take home a first career Grand Slam title. Medvedev lost a classic in the 2019 US Open final to Rafael Nadal and hasn't dropped a set this tournament, while Thiem has lost just one set and is coming off an extremely impressive 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-1 win over Felix Auger-Aliassime. Those two are each one match away from a semifinal collision that would produce the title favorite, while Zverev is the favorite to emerge from the top half of the draw.
Denis Shapovalov - Shapovalov is playing with house money. His tournament seemed destined to come to an end in the third round against Taylor Fritz, but the 12th-seeded Canadian broke the American when Fritz was serving for the match in the fourth set and escaped with a five-set victory before following that win up with a 6-7 (0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over No. 7 seed David Goffin. The skilled shot-maker will be favored in the quarterfinals against No. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta – who advanced when Djokovic was disqualified in the first set of their match – and Shapovalov certainly has to fancy his chances of reaching the final with just Carreno Busta, fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev and 27th-seeded Borna Coric remaining in his half of the draw.
Andrey Rublev - Rublev will be the underdog against Medvedev in the quarterfinals, but the hard-hitting Russian is a sleeper not only in this match but in the title hunt in general. While Rublev has arguably the toughest route to the title given his draw, the 10th-seeded Russian has the ability to beat any opponent on any given day given his easy power off both wings. He's also coming off one of the most impressive victories of the tournament, beating No. 6 seed and 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to avenge last year's Round of 16 loss.
Naomi Osaka - Osaka may not be completely healthy after pulling out of the Western & Southern Open with a hamstring injury prior to the championship match, but the 2018 US Open champion continues to find ways to win and is the clear favorite to advance to the final from the top half of the draw. She'll face unseeded American Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals, followed by the winner of 28th-seeded Jennifer Brady and 23rd-seeded Yulia Putintseva. Should Osaka win two more matches, a rematch of the 2018 final against Serena Williams could be on tap in the championship match.
Serena Williams - Williams avenged her Western & Southern Open loss to Maria Sakkari with a 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win in the fourth round, and she looks locked in as she chases a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title. Serena has lost four consecutive finals, but she's well positioned to come into the championship match well-rested. Williams will be heavily favored over unseeded Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarterfinals, and a win in that match would earn her a semifinal date with either unseeded Victoria Azarenka or 16th-seeded Elise Mertens. Williams is 4-0 in her career against Pironkova, 19-4 against Azarenka and 1-0 against Mertens.
Jennifer Brady - Brady has cruised to the quarterfinals, losing no more than six games in any match. She's 0-2 lifetime against quarterfinal opponent Yulia Putintseva, but Brady has looked like a completely different player since the resumption of tennis, with a 9-1 record and nine straight-sets wins in 10 matches.
Elise Mertens - Mertens just took out No. 2 seed and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3, and the No. 16 seed has quietly advanced to the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Like Rublev on the men's side, Mertens has a tough road to the title with Western & Southern Open champion Victoria Azarenka up next followed by potential matches against Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, but her terrific form suggests the Belgian has at least a puncher's chance in each of those matchups.