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.
On the men's side, a young American is poised for a big run while a household name might be in for some unexpected early-round turbulence. Kaia Kanepi and Kiki Bertens are grabbing some headlines on the women's side, while Americans could well end up on both the winning and losing ends of some second-round upsets.
Stan Wawrinka - Wawrinka dispatched of No. 8 seed Grigor Dimitrov convincingly in the first round, stretching his win streak at the US Open to eight matches. While it's concerning that the Swiss veteran had to call the trainer in the third set, his ability to come back from 5-3 down in that set to close things out 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 against a tough opponent bodes well for his chances in the second round. Injuries have devalued Wawrinka's stock of late, but it's hard to imagine him falling to 139th-ranked Ugo Humbert in Round 2.
Frances Tiafoe - Tiafoe lost five-set heartbreakers to John Isner and Roger Federer at the past two US Opens, but the 20-year-old American finally broke through with a convincing, four-set win over 29th-seeded Adrian Mannarino in the first round. While 19-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur won't be a cakewalk in the second round, you have to fancy Tiafoe's chances in this battle of youngsters with the crowd behind him.
Novak Djokovic - Djokovic has struggled in the heat throughout his career, and those struggles manifested themselves in the opening round. While he ultimately got through Marton Fucsovics in four sets, Djokovic required a visit from the cardiologist mid-match and was down 4-2 at one set apiece. His next opponent is a tricky one in Tennys Sandgren, who defeated Dominic Thiem and Wawrinka en route to reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals earlier this year. The Big 3 are rarely on upset alert early outside of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but there a few more warning signs than usual for Djokovic here.
Nikoloz Basilashvili - While it's never fun picking an upset over an American, Jack Sock is a prime candidate to be toppled by Basilashvili. Sock's ranking is propped up by excellent indoor results late last season, but he came into this tournament with a 5-15 record in 2018. The 37th-ranked Basilashvili just missed earning a seed in this tournament, so he has to like his chances against a player that's found ways to lose much more often than not this season.
Kaia Kanepi - Kanepi made quick work of top-seeded Simona Halep with a 6-2, 6-4 win in the first round. That upset immediately makes her the heavy favorite to reach the Round of 16, as nobody she could face before then is ranked in the top 60. The world No. 44 draws 168th-ranked Jil Teichmann in the second round.
Kiki Bertens - Bertens defeated four top-10 players en route to victory in Cincinnati right before this tournament, and she kept rolling in the first round with a 6-0, 7-5 win over Kristyna Pliskova. With no seeded opponents in her draw until the Round of 16 (where she could potentially face a slumping Caroline Wozniacki), Bertens is primed to make a deep run. Don't expect 193rd-ranked Francesca Di Lorenzo to put up much of a fight in the second round.
Venus Williams - Venus gutted out a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round, but her recent lack of match play was apparent in the second set, as she tightened up and let a 5-2 lead slip away. With a third-round match against sister Serena looming, Venus is met with a classic "trap game" scenario against Camila Giorgi. It's easy to overlook this match and think ahead, but Venus could be in for a dogfight considering their lone previous meeting was a nail-biting 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 Williams win at the 2015 Australian Open.
Sofia Kenin - There have been countless surprising American success stories at the US Open in recent years, and Kenin could be the latest. The Moscow-born resident of Pembroke Pines, FL showed tremendous composure for a 19-year-old in the opening round by defeating countrywoman Madison Brengle 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (4). Her second-round opponent will be 32nd-seeded Maria Sakkari, whose career Grand Slam record is just 11-11.