Andy Murray tries to defend his first Grand Slam crown, but faces strong challenges from world number one Novak Djokovic and a host of other names. Who are the tennis odds favoring, and who is worth backing with your tennis picks?
Twelve months ago, Andy Murray was just another plucky Scotsman, destined to lose in the final stages of every big tournament, Roger Federer was the stolid veteran staving off the challenge of every younger upstart, Novak Djokovic was just about unbeatable and everyone wondered if Rafael Nadal would ever play tennis again.
Now, Murray is the British behemoth, with not one but two Grand Slam titles under his belt, Federer is a fading force, the cloak of invincibility tattered if not totally discarded, Djokovic can sense the approaching pack and seems unable to pull clear of them and Nadal - well, Rafa’s back, but he’s not the Rafa of old.
Take a look at our early predictions for the Men's US Open.
It is a scenario which is more than reflected in the market for this event. Djokovic starts as favorite, a best of 2/1 with Bwin. His price has drifted slightly in recent days so it may be worthwhile watching his tennis odds over the next couple of days to see if this trend continues.
Murray is the 3/1 second choice with Spreadex and will be seeded to meet Djokovic in the final. Behind them, William Hill have Nadal at 4/1, but there has to be a real concern that the hard courts of Flushing Meadow will take their toll of the Nadal knees. And Federer? Well, Betfair have him at an enormous 15/1, the longest price that he has started any Grand Slam at for at least a decade. In fact, his form has slipped so badly that he is priced behind the only other man that the market makes a serious contender, Juan Martin del Potro, who Totesport have at 10/1.
That the man known as Delpo belongs in this company is beyond doubt. His win at Flushing Meadow in 2009 is the only time since 2005 that one of the other four hasn’t won a Grand Slam title. Anyone who saw his Wimbledon semi-final against Djokovic is unlikely to forget it (and bear in mind that Del Potro was playing with a knee problem of his own that day). Nowadays, he really does look like a better outside choice for our tennis picks than Federer does.
Away from these five, though, the market reflects just what a gap there is at the top of men’s tennis at the moment. Every market puts the bar at at least 50/1, some even longer. Players such as David Ferrer, who can beat any of those five on their day, are best priced at 100/1 by Boylesport. Ferrer is currently ranked third in the world and yet he finds himself a significant outside bet to win a Grand Slam title! Flushing Meadow isn’t particularly a Ferrer type of court, but at those odds he has to be worth a look.
Veteran Tommy Haas, whose career has been having a late renaissance, is at 200/1 with Sportingbet, the same price as world number 10 Stanislaus Wawrinka. At the slightly shorter odds of 125/1 (with Betway) you’ll find the only real American contender, John Isner, the world number 20 and the man who beat Djokovic last week.
One of the good things about there being no one dominant figure in men’s tennis at the moment is that the draw is unlikely to affect those prices. What may have an impact is if one of the big names withdraws with injury, as Nadal has done several times this year and as Murray did just before the French Open. That would certainly favor the likes of Federer and Del Potro, so you will need to move quickly before their price shortens radically.