With the second 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.
One of the favorites on the men's side is suddenly battling injury concerns, while a popular title pick on the women's side just had the path to a deep run paved for her by some upsets. Additionally, unseeded Americans on both sides have a chance to keep their surprising runs going for at least another round.
Kei Nishikori - Nishikori was one of the few players able to complete his match on an otherwise rained out Wednesday, as he eliminated Bradley Klahn in four sets under the roof of Louis Armstrong Stadium. In addition to the advantage in rest he has over most of his half of the draw, Nishikori also finds himself in a favorable section. There are no seeded players separating the No. 7 seed from the quarterfinals, and if he can get through Alex De Minaur in Round 3, Nishikori has a 5-1 career head-to-head edge over likely fourth-round foe Grigor Dimitrov.
Daniil Medvedev - Medvedev has to be happy with his draw, which is devoid of dangerous floaters. Third-round opponent Feliciano Lopez has a tricky lefty serve, but the 37-year-old Spaniard should be thoroughly outclassed by Medvedev in rallies, while likely fourth-round opponent and No. 17 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili came into this tournament rocking an uninspiring 11-9 hard-court record on the season and is under .500 on the surface for his career. Looking further ahead, the fifth-seeded Russian's chances of repeating his Cincinnati upset of Novak Djokovic look a lot better than they did when the tournament started (more on that just below).
Novak Djokovic - Djokovic's 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1 second-round win over Juan Ignacio Londero doesn't seem out of the ordinary on its face, but the world No. 1 needed multiple visits from the trainer due to a left shoulder injury and was down a double break in the second set. His draw could get especially brutal from the Round of 16 onward, but Djokovic has a lot more questions going into his third-round match with Denis Kudla than he did prior to this injury surfacing.
Tennys Sandgren - Sandgren has shown tremendous toughness already in this tournament. He battled back from a two-set deficit against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round and needed nearly three hours of court time to eliminate Vasek Pospisil in Round 2. The American has the mindset necessary to grind out physical wins in best-of-five matches, which should prepare him well for a third-round showdown with 5-foot-7 Argentine Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman doesn't have an overpowering game, so Sandgren has a nice opportunity to make the second week at a second straight Grand Slam after reaching the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.
Bianca Andreescu - Andreescu was a trendy title pick coming into this tournament, and she's living up to her lofty billing so far with straight-sets wins in each of the first two rounds. Both of the top-eight seeds eliminated Thursday (No. 4 Simona Halep and No. 6 Petra Kvitova) were in Andreescu's quarter of the draw, so the No. 15 seed won't have to face a higher-ranked opponent until the semifinals at the earliest. Her biggest threat is third-round opponent Caroline Wozniacki, but Andreescu's powerful serve and forehand should make her a comfortable favorite against the No. 19 seed.
Johanna Konta - Konta's recent Grand Slam success is continuing here. After reaching the semifinals at the French Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Konta has her sights set on another deep run. She dropped just one game to Margarita Gasparyan in the second round and will be heavily favored against 33rd-seeded Shuai Zhang in Round 3. The No. 16 seed is on a collision course for a fourth-round showdown with No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova, but Konta wouldn't be much of an underdog in that matchup given her current level.
Sofia Kenin - Kenin is actually playing quite well, but the No. 20 seed is unlikely to advance past the third round due to a difficult draw. She'll face 10th-seeded Madison Keys, who just beat Kenin in straight sets en route to a title in Cincinnati earlier this month. The 20-year-old Kenin is yet to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, and she appears destined to fall short of that landmark achievement once again in the final major of 2019.
Kristie Ahn - Ahn is ranked 141st, but the 27-year-old Flushing Meadows native has outplayed her ranking dramatically with straight-sets wins in each of her first two rounds. She has a nice opportunity to keep her run going against one of the most inconsistent players on the WTA tour. Jelena Ostapenko is great when she's on – she won the 2017 French Open – but she often beats herself and is ranked just 77th as a result.