Alexander Zverev, the champion from both ATP Washington and the 2017 Rogers Cup, is seeded 4th at the 2017 US Open. That's the highest seed that the German has ever had in a major. Part of the reason why he is seeded so high is the fact that a couple of higher-ranked players will be absent from the draw, namely Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, the two finalists from last season.

Zverev certainly has a good chance to have his career-best Grand Slam to date and loads of people seem to realize this. But the oddity with US Open previews that cover Zverev is that he is often being presented as an emerging "surprise." However, surprises are by definition unpredictable or at least hard to predict.

If so many seem to think that Zverev is one of the top picks to win the Grand Slam then what exactly would make him a surprise champion?

Those in the know favor Zverev?

Let's take a look at Steve Flink's August 24th article at Flink headlines that "Alexander Zverev is set to surprise" at the 2017 Us Open. According to Flink "The consensus among a significant chunk of the cognoscenti," people who are well informed on a particular topic, "is that, outside of Federer and Nadal, Zverev has the best chance of any man to succeed." What's odd about the statement, besides subdividing "the cognoscenti" and then claiming for there to be "consensus," is that if a lot of well-informed people think that Zverev might win then, that contradicts the notion of him being a surprise champion at Flushing Meadows, doesn't it?

It seems that a surprise champion would be someone that no one or only a few saw coming.

So the question is who is it that Zverev will surprise? Clearly, not "the cognoscenti" for tennis. It seems that if anyone will be surprised, then it would only be the people that are not well informed about tennis. These people will always be surprised at developments because they don't see the young stars emerging in outer tournaments, like Washington.

But there may also be those that are surprised simply because of justified skepticism of Zverev. His lack of any deep run in a major means that he will be in new waters as of the quarters. You could talk about Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro being surprise champions in 2014 and 2009 respectively. But when they won their titles at Flushing Meadows, each had been to a semifinal of a Grand Slam beforehand, and we're building off of a previous experience that Zverev doesn't have right now.

Examining Zverev's draw

The German certainly can't mind his draw at Flushing Meadows. He has peripheral players to beat in the early rounds and maybe Kevin Anderson in the third round. Anderson isn't a pushover, but Zverev has had the South African's number so far this summer. Cilic, entering the tournament cold for match time, is the other high seed in Zverev's quarter. The Croat is questionable for a deep run in New York, meaning that Zverev may not face a tough match in the quarters should he make it that far.

But what Zverev will look like should he make the semifinals is a huge question mark, because he's never played six matches in a tournament before except for in Rome 2017. The elephant in the room with that comparison is that the Rome Masters was best-of-three-sets and not best-of-five.

Furthermore, to win a Grand Slam, you need to win seven matches, not six. Some might be surprised by Zverev because he's never done much in the majors to date.

But if Zverev does "surprise" at Flushing Meadows it will largely be among those that don't understand the significance of winning Washington and Montreal. Del Potro, in 2009, didn't do that. He did win Washington that season, but then he fell in the Montreal final. The Argentine would win the US Open anyway. Zverev, with the two recent hard-court titles, is one of the players in the mix and he would certainly be no more surprising than Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, or a small group of players that have a good chance of finally outlasting both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in a major. In the end, too many people see Zverev's potential to say that he would be a surprise champion. This isn't Gaston Gaudio at the 2004 French Open here.