Marin Cilic, who won the US Open in 2014, is now seeded to make the final at this year's event in Flushing Meadows. With Andy Murray's withdrawal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga losing to Denis Shapovalov, and Alexander Zverev's loss to Borna Coric, there is no one seeded better than 5th in the bottom half of the 2017 Us Open draw now. In fact Cilic remains the only single-digit seed in that whole half of the draw.

Cilic to be tested soon

But, as high as Cilic is seeded, he is also a question mark in the men's draw simply because he hasn't beaten anyone good following Wimbledon.

Beating Florian Mayer in the 2nd round didn't prove much given the German's atrocious hard-court form this year. The Croat now has a tough draw ahead in the upcoming rounds through Diego Schwartzman and then possibly Lucas Pouille. If Cilic isn't playing well or is not fully recovered from his injury, then one of those players will probably expose that.

The overall situation on the bottom half of the draw is such that 16 players remain and one of them will have to be in the final. Cilic is the only one that has ever made it that far in a Grand Slam event and that's a big part of what makes him the favorite to make the final. But he's not a heavy favorite because he is questionable right now due to the fact that he's just returning from injury.

That forces a look at the other players, yet all of them combined add up to just one semifinal appearance in a major, which belongs to the USA's Sam Querrey from Wimbledon earlier this summer.

Looking at the favorites in Cilic's half

Of the sixteen players alive on the bottom half of the draw, there's only five that you would totally write off as not capable of making the final.

Those are Radu Albot, Thomas Fabbiano, Paolo Lorenzi, Nicolas Mahut, and Mikhail Kukushkin. Here's a glimpse of what might be considered the favorites to make the final on Cilic's half of the draw, starting with the first favorite:

  • Marin Cilic
  • Denis Shapovalov
  • Sam Querrey
  • Lucas Pouille
  • Borna Coric
  • Pablo Carreno-Busta
  • Diego Schwartzman
  • Mischa Zverev
  • Kyle Edmund
  • John Isner
  • Kevin Anderson

Isner not really a threat

John Isner, the 10th seed, is the second-highest seed at the 2017 US Open, remaining in the bottom half of the draw.

The American has sizzled this summer in tournaments played in the USA. However, Isner isn't a man for the five-set matches, something that's crystal clear for the 32-year old. He's a tough pick to make it all the way to the final given all the third and fourth-round losses he has suffered in majors over the years.

What usually goes wrong with Isner is that he gets involved in a very lengthy coin-toss match involving tiebreakers. Such lengthy matches are tough to return from with energy for subsequent rounds, even when you win them. Isner, in order to have something left in the tank for the quarterfinals, will have to be very efficient in the next two rounds against Mischa Zverev and then probably against Querrey.

Querrey a legitimate threat for the final

Querrey himself is hard to ignore as a potential finalist, even as a No. 17 seed. The knock against him is only the knock that you could have against everyone but Cilic: Querrey's never won a semifinal in a major before. He certainly has the draw to work with to find a groove as he faces Albot in the next round and then either Isner or Zverev after that. Querrey has to hope to beat Albot, which he is favored to do, and then hope that Isner and Zverev knock each other around for four hours.That should open up Querrey's quarterfinal chances a lot.

Zverev himself is almost a danger in the draw. The older brother of Alexander made the Australian Open quarterfinals earlier this season, defeating Andy Murray en route.

Zverev-the-older beat Isner in that tournament, a third-round match that went 9-7 in the 5th set. Zverev also beat Isner in Geneva this year and the German certainly can't be ignored in the Flushing Meadows draw. After all that he has gone through with injuries, he absolutely has to be hungry and determined. That said, he has also played 10 sets of tennis through two rounds and that should be taking its tolls on him.

Anderson can beat Coric, but can't win tourney

Kevin Anderson and Borna Coric will play an interesting match. Anderson has played well in recent weeks and he made the quarterfinals of Flushing Meadows two seasons ago, taking Murray out en route. But Anderson lumbers on court and players of his size usually lack the stamina needed to win majors.

Coric is more of a threat for the final although beating Anderson in the third round will be difficult since it's still early in the draw and the South African should not be fatigued yet. Coric and Anderson make for an interesting match in that the former has the tools to go deep in the tournament, yet the latter is more dangerous in their upcoming individual match.

Pablo Carreno-Busta, the 12th seed, looks like a key player in the draw. He is into the third round following two straight-set victories to open the tournament. He has a good draw in the sense that he has just Mahut to beat in the next round, a player that has to be considered one of the worst left in the draw for singles.

The game changer in the bottom half of the US Open draw, if we look further than Cilic, is Denis Shapovalov.

You would think he would probably beat Kyle Edmund in the next round, although the Brit has come to life in the last little bit. With Carreno-Busta's hard-court problems, Shapovalov appears to have the quarterfinals on his racket and a showdown could be brewing. It seems that it will take a sharp player to take Shapovalov out, if the Canadian is to lose.

Luck could still play a major role in the bottom half of the draw. Certainly a player that picks up a walkover advancement or a win via retirement would have an edge over the field in terms of rest. Such a win is exactly what Isner and Anderson need to do well, but the bottom half of the draw is largely about Shapovalov's rise and the state of Cilic's fitness.