Three Grand Slams in the books, three different champions lift the coveted trophies. It follows the US Open, the fourth and final major on the 2014 season, would fall in line with its predecessors: serve up lots of drama, thrilling contests, a few shocking upsets and another different player joining the champions circle. So let's find out which players the odds makers favour.
Serena the Favourite Despite Questionable Form
After enjoying one of the best seasons of her career, Serena is deep into one of the worst – by her standards, that is – seasons in a long time. Above it all, there are question marks about her form – fuelled by back-to-back shock upsets at the French Open and Wimbledon. In the former, she lost to up-and-coming Garbine Muguruza in the second round, while in the latter, to Alize Cornet in the third round. Over and above form questions, there was that bizarre incident in the doubles match with sister Venus Williams, from which she was forced to retire after floundering about the court, disorientated, unfocused. An incident that has fuelled all manner of rumours, the latest of which claim she’s pregnant. Yet, in spite of all these question marks and unfounded rumours, odds makers install Serena Williams as the player to beat at Flushing Meadows by a significant margin.
Serena is matched at +188 to win the US Open title, a good distance ahead of second favourites Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka at +550 to win outright – the latter of which is, incidentally, another player struggling on form this season since suffering an injury in Spring. Only Maria Sharapova has the required form this season to make her a credible pick. Sharapova last won the US Open in 2006, when she beat Justine Henin 6-4, 6-4 in the final. In her ensuing five appearances, she went as far as R16 (2010) until last year when she reached the semis (l. to Azarenka).
Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard are joint-third favourites at +800 and represent a new wave of players making stride on the WTA Tour. Both present interesting options, having gained invaluable experience at the majors this season in reaching a final. In defeat, they’ve been shown up, respectively, to still have a lot to learn (especially mentally) when it comes to winning big titles.
The 2014 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova rings in as the fourth favourite at +1000, a somewhat disingenuous price tag seeing as she’s coming off her second Wimbledon time. Then again, she’s blown hot and cold over the last three years, since winning her first Wimbledon in 2011. Admittedly, the pressure of expectations was something she struggled to deal with then, with so many pundits and experts tipping her to win multiple majors consistently. Clearly, odds makers are finding hard to disassociating those sepia-toned memories of her failures, simply because, all of a sudden, she won a second Wimbledon. It’s quite possible she’ll revert to blowing hot and cold.
Then again, it’s quite possible that she’s finally figured it out. That it’s taken her this long to come to terms with expectations and find harmony between them and her particular goals. If so, and If she can take the form from Wimbledon into the US Open series, she might finally realise those glorious prophecies after all.
Li Na rounds out the so-called Top Five favourites for the US Open across sportsbooks, but sports bettors putting faith with their picks on the Chinese star has waned since winning the Australian Open earlier this season. Her form has been on a steady decline since and her untimely exits from both the French Open and Wimbledon have cost her credibility amongst tennis bettors. Still as a multiple champion – who also blows hot and cold – who’s to say her form won’t ignite at Flushing Meadows.
Outsiders to Spot
Some of the outside betting odds to spot, particularly in early betting markets, include Garbine Muguruza +2200, Sloane Stephens +2500, Angelique Kerber +3300 and Ana Ivanovic at +5000. They might not be choice tennis picks to win the tournament but they are certainly players capable of shaking up the draw over the course of the fortnight.
Tennis Betting Verdict
The Emirates Airlines US Open series is all set to kick off on July 21, a five-week summer tennis extravaganza across eight events in North America linked together through performance based points in the lead up to the US Open. Following these events individually is going to be crucial towards spotting the value tennis picks at the US Open. Most importantly, we’ll find out (or so we hope) if a) Serena will find her illusive form on the American hard courts; b) if Azarenka will work herself back into form before the US Open; c) if Sharapova can continue her stellar form this season through the US Open Series; d) if Petra Kvitova can finally find the sort of consistency that will make her a top tennis pick; and e) if the young wave of players can close the quality gap before the end of the 2014 season. Knowing some of these answers will go a long way towards a profitable US Open betting enterprise next month.