Alexander Zverev believes world number one Novak Djokovic remains the favourite for the upcoming U.S. Open in spite of the German backing up his Olympic gold medal with victory in Cincinnati.
The German world number four defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Sunday to win the Western and Southern Open, claiming his fourth title of the ATP season.
The 2021 U.S. Open begins on August 30 with Dominic Thiem, who defeated Zverev in the 2020 final, withdrawing from the men’s draw along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Their absence has opened up an opportunity for the in-form Zverev to have a run at the title but the German insisted Djokovic is the player to beat.
“I do think that he’s still the favourite,” Zverev told reporters after his win in Cincinnati.
“I do think he’s going to be playing incredible tennis there. He’s going to be fresh, and I think there are also other guys that are in very good form.
“I think Rublev is in very good form, [Daniil] Medvedev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, all those guys are playing great tennis.
“It’s definitely going to be an interesting U.S. Open. But I’m also looking forward to it, because I know where I stand, I know how I’m playing, and I hope I can continue the work and hopefully play even better in New York.”
Djokovic has not played since Tokyo 2020, where he lost his bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta after his semi-final defeat to Zverev.
The Serbian world number one opted to withdraw from the mixed doubles’ semi-final afterwards, citing a left shoulder injury.
“I think Novak will be back. He’s obviously going to be the favourite but I think other guys are going to be in great shape,” Zverev said.
“I’m looking forward to the week. Let’s see how it goes. But there is still one week to go. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to find my rhythm in New York, as well.”
Zverev, who had never won a match in Cincinnati prior to this year’s event, has not lost a match since his Wimbledon fourth-round exit to Felix Auger-Aliassime in July.