Britain’s number one female tennis player Johanna Konta broke her duck on the WTA tour on Sunday winning her first title at Stanford. Konta disappointed at Wimbledon this year where the pressure of an expectant home nation seemed to weigh heavily on her shoulders but she looked back to her best last week on her favoured hard courts.
The win took her ranking to a career high 14 and, with the US Open now only a month away, she has to be respected as a serious contender after reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open this year. She reached the fourth round at the US Open last year losing to Kvitova and it’s safe to say she has improved and gained more experience since then.
Next month’s Olympic tennis tournament could also play a factor in making the US Open more open than usual as it adds to an already busy schedule for top 10 players like Serena and Venus Williams, Kerber, Halep, Muguruza and Radwanska. With that in mind and the fact the US Open does sometimes throw up surprise winners and finalists (eg Penneta 2016 and Stosur 2011), I think it’s worth taking an ante-post punt on Konta (66/1) as she plays her best tennis on hard courts and is sure to perform much better than she did at Wimbledon.
The men’s US Open also throws up occasional surprise results (2009 Del Potro and 2014 Cilic) and, with the elite players having to factor in the Olympics to their already busy schedules, 2016 could be another year that we witness some surprise semi-finalists, finalists and possibly a new winner. World number 14 Gael Monfils (200/1) bounced back to form last week winning his first ATP Title since 2014 at Washington, which is usually good preparation for the US Open as the conditions are fairly similar to Flushing Meadows.
Monfils reached the quarter-finals of the Australian open this year (lost to Raonic), is a two time US Open quarter-finalist (2010 and 2014) and is still in the race for the end of season World Tour Finals. He is at present in ninth place, just ahead of Federer and just behind Berdych, which should provide good motivation as he’s never qualified for the end of season finale.
He missed a big part of the clay court season due to an ankle injury and just returned in time for the grass court season, which should mean he arrives at the US Open a lot fresher than previous seasons, barring any further injury problems. His big serve and aggressive game is well suited to the quick conditions at the US Open. Therefore, if he can reach the latter stages and rein in his urge to entertain the crowds and focus on being more ruthless, he is more than capable of springing a big surprise at massive odds of 200/1.