We revisit the 2014 US Open odds to win outright in order to determine the best value tennis picks using current form and recent results of the Emirates US Open series as a sort of players’ depth chart heading into Flushing Meadows. How do the favourites rank and are there any great outside bets to consider?
Men’s Emirates US Open Series Scoreboard
Milos Raonic emerges at the top of the men’s standings in the Emirates US Open Series on 280 points. Roger Federer ranks second with 170 points while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ranks third with 100 points. These players have “form” going into the US Open but not all three are included on the bookmakers’ shortlist of top favourites to win outright, which goes to show just how subjective tennis betting odds really are.
Reputation and past results trump current form because Novak Djokovic remains the top favourite to win it all. In fact, the Serbian starlet’s odds have shortened dramatically since we last previewed the US Open odds, falling from +175 to +110 to win outright, all while crashing out of both Toronto and Cincinnati Masters events behind poor form, the least convincing form he’s sported in recent memory ahead of a major.
Roger Federer comes in as the second favourite at a generous price of +300 to win outright, a price tag that is solidly supported by good form and growing confidence gained in a runner-up finish at the Rogers Cup and then winning the title in Cincinnati. Of the so-called ‘Big Four’, Federer would appear to be the most realistic tennis pick. When Andy Murray, who is tipped as the third favourite at +400, is still searching for form and confidence after back surgery – he’s not reached a final, let alone won a title since returning to action – and defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury.
So is this really Djokovic’s tournament to win or lose?
Bookies clearly have it as Djokovic’s title to win or lose but the evidence suggests otherwise. We’ve considered reputation, rankings, recent form and results, as well as various other qualities of each player on the bookmakers’ shortlist of top ten contenders, to determine our power rankings for the upcoming US Open.
10. Kei Nishikori (+5000) – Bookies list the Japanese star amongst their top ten favourites for the US Open but how realistic are his chances when he’s battling all sorts of ailments and injuries. Lasting in the best of five sets over the course of two weeks seems unlikely.
9. Milos Raonic (+2200) – The Canadian leads the US Open Series leader board behind a victory in Washington and solid runs at both Masters events. However, we’ve listed him in ninth place on our power rankings because he’s done little to convince tennis bettors that he’s capable of beating a Big Four player. He does well against weaker opposition, simply aces his way past them. His ground game however has been found wanting – case and point are the two defeats to Federer at Wimbledon and Cincinnati.
8. Tomas Berdych (+5000) – The Czech has the game and talent to win a major. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the head for it. Berdych has the weapons and the ground game to beat the Big Four, he’s even has done it on a few occasions. Where he falls short is on mental toughness. More often than not he falls on the big occasion.
7. Stanislas Wawrinka (+1200)– Stanislas Wawrinka won the Australian Open earlier this season, beating defending champion Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to his maiden Grand Slam title. Since then, he’s blown mostly cold. He’s an exceptional hard court player but an unreliable tennis pick at the same time based on his current streaky form.
6. Grigor Dimitrov (+1400) – The Bulgarian, also known as ‘Baby Federer’, has a stunning game that is sure to yield major titles one day. Could that day be in just over a fortnight at Flushing Meadows? Possibly. If he gets a good draw, benefits from Nadal’s withdrawal and somehow avoids the top three favourites entirely or needs to deal with the prospect of just one of them towards the business end of the tournament. Dimitrov did beat defending champion Andy Murray at Wimbledon but lost to Novak Djokovic in the semis. In today’s game, winning a Grand Slam typically involves beating at least two (if not three) of the so-called Big Four.
5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+2000) – Jo Wilfried Tsonga pulled off the trifecta when he beat Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer en route to winning the Rogers Cup. The following week, he crashed out of his opening match to Mikhail Youzhny. What he accomplished in Toronto certainly was eye-popping, but whether he could do it in the best of five sets over two weeks when after one week in Toronto saw him knackered and listless in Cincinnati remains to be seen.
4. David Ferrer (+6600) – This is an instance of reputation trumping form negatively. Ferrer’s form is outstanding ahead of the US Open, as it is always throughout most seasons. He’s a consummate fighter and competitor that regularly goes deep in tournaments. But he has a poor record against most of the Big Four players particularly Djokovic and Federer. He simply doesn’t have the weapons to hurt either player on a hard court. Going against Ferrer as well is the fact that over his long and successful career he’s never won a Grand Slam, the closest he came to it was a runner-up finish at the French Open last year.
3. Andy Murray (+400) – Despite his struggles this year and his so-so form ahead of the US Open, Andy Murray is the third favourite because he won the US Open title in 2012 and backed up his Grand Slam credentials with a Wimbledon title the following year. Admittedly, this year has been a work in progress for the No.1 Brit but there are many positives, which suggest he’s getting ever closer to top form. He challenged Nadal thoroughly during the clay-court swing in Europe and he also pushed Tsonga to three sets in Toronto and then lost only to Federer in Cincinnati.
2. Novak Djokovic +110 – His poor form notwithstanding, Djokovic is always a contender for a Grand Slam title. He’s won so many already and as recently as Wimbledon last month. He’s had some happy distractions since – his wedding in July and thoughts of the imminent arrival of baby Djokovic in October to occupy his mind since, all of which could have factored in his subpar performance over the course of the US Open Series. On the upside, he’s well rested having not exerted any energy in the lead up to the US Open. He’s won the Australian Open before without playing any warm-up events and he’s the sort of player that can raise his level on when it’s needed the most.
1. Roger Federer (+300)—Roger Federer tops our power rankings as the player to beat at the US Open. He’s enjoying great form ahead of the final Grand Slam on the ATP Calendar, an event he once dominated five years in a row. This year, he’s gunning for a record-breaking 18th Grand Slam title. He came close to accomplishing the feat at Wimbledon, only to lose to Djokovic in a five-set marathon final. We think if he gets another crack at a major title in New York, this time he’ll pull through.