Tim Henman believes the US Open 2020 will be full of surprises as elite men’s players return to action for the first time since the start of lockdown.
The former British No.1 is aware that Novak Djokovic is the outright favourite to claim the men’s singles title, but a lack of match action over the past few months could stir the pot in an unpredictable, exciting way for fans watching at home.
Henman – who will offer expert analysis on the tournament which will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime Video – spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com ahead of the return of elite-tier men’s tennis, revealing his US Open 2020 predictions.
He said: “[The lockdown break] gives the opportunity of upsets because no one is coming in with any form.
“When you’ve had such a long break away from a competitive environment it’s not always easy getting back into the match play. In a sport like tennis, one loss and you’re on your way home. I think there will be more upsets than we’re used to.
“Novak Djokovic is definitely the favourite, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the beauty of sport, there are no scripts.
“If we knew what was going to happen, we wouldn’t watch it. He’s clear favourite but I do think there is scope for upsets when you look at the men’s side without Federer and Nadal in the draw. It’s a great opportunity. Other players will see this as a great chance.”
When the US Open does get under way, it will be unlike any other tournament without a crowd, and Henman believes this could also add to the shock value during the tournament.
Underdogs may feel less pressure under the glare spotlights as opposed to an expectant crowd usually rooting for the elite stars.
“It probably favours the underdog or the more inexperienced players because I think that is part of the learning curve. When you’re going out in the biggest and best stadiums in the world playing in front of big crowds, it does take time to get used to that,” Henman said.
“If that doesn’t exist, I think it makes everything more of a level playing field. In my mind, it points to a few more upsets. But at the end of the day it’s going to boil down to who hits the ground running.
“My one area of caution is injuries. It’s not necessarily the COVID element, it’s just especially for the male players coming into the US Open as their first event, to go into a best of five set match having not competed for a long time… it is hard. I just hope there are no injuries associated with that.”
Henman expects younger players to have tooled up and used lockdown to alter their style, while the more seasoned stars may have focused more on simply keeping fit for the return of tennis.
He said: “I think that very much depends on your age. For the younger generation, it’s a great opportunity to really work and develop your game.
“Maybe a specific area, whether that’s your serve or return of serve or transitioning moving to the net.
“If you’re in the older generation, it’s a great opportunity to look at the physical side of things, injury prevention, staying fresh because you don’t get many breaks from the game.
“There’ll be players who have dealt with the break differently, but once there was an end in sight then you’re really looking to build up the matchplay on the practice courts because practice and matches are two totally different things.”
For the full breakdown of the upcoming schedule check out our US Open 2020 on TV guide.
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