There’s no question Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have been the ATP Tour doubles team of the season, and having experienced success in New York in the past—albeit with different partners—the Croats are heavy favorites for the US Open title this year.

However, will they be able to overcome an exceptionally deep field to claim a 10th title of 2021?

Last year, Pavic won his second career men’s major in New York with Bruno Soares, but despite that achievement, they decided to go their separate ways for 2021. Pavic linked up with his countryman Mektic—whom he faced on the other side of the net in the ’20 US Open final—while Soares reunited with Jamie Murray, his partner for a title-winning run in New York in 2016. Pavic and Mektic have shown the decision was the right one: In their first year playing together, they’ve won Wimbledon and the Olympics, as well as tournaments at all of the ATP Tour levels.

But could New York prove tricky for the Croats to navigate? For only the second time this year, they’ve gone two tournaments in a row without winning, which, in most cases, would usually be considered inconsequential. However, considering the Bryans-like pace the two have been playing at it in ’21, it looks like a slump. There are some definite obstacles along their path in New York: In the third round, Pavic and Mektic could potentially face Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop, who just won in Winston-Salem, or Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez, the 14th seeds who’ve been solid all year.


Should they make it to the later rounds, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, the fourth seeds, or 2019 US Open champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, seeded fifth, could derail Mektic and Pavic’s plans. Ram and Salisbury, the 2020 Australian Open champions, just knocked off the top-ranked team in the final in Canada.

The bottom half of the draw is led by Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, this year’s Cincinnati champions and Wimbledon finalists. The second seeds are quite familiar with New York: In 2019, playing their first Grand Slam together, the Argentine-Spanish duo went on to reach the final. Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are also down in that half of the draw. The third seeds, who won the French Open this year and the US Open back in 2015, have had an up-and-down run the past couple of years as their play together has been somewhat infrequent.


Strong pairings among the lower seeds—like Tim Puetz and Michael Venus, and Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen—could make life difficult for any higher-ranked team. Unseeded duos like Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner, as well as Jack Sock and Neal Skupski, could also break through.