Tennis - US Open Preview
The fourth and final Grand Slam of the season, the US Open, gets underway at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, USA on Monday and with a new state of the art roof finally being installed on Arthur Ashe stadium there will be no more major weather delays. Defending champion, top-seed and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic will try to bounce back to form after a disappointing summer and attempt to win a third US Open title. It's safe to say all is not well with Djokovic since crashing out of Wimbledon and the Olympics early and pulling out of Cincinnati citing a wrist injury. However, in between this, he did win The Canadian Masters with ease so it’s difficult to assess if he will be fully prepared to defend his title this year.
Second seed Andy Murray (2/1), on the other hand, has had an imperious summer winning three tournaments in a row, namely Queens, Wimbledon and the Olympics before losing to Cilic in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. The statistics are on his side as the second seed has featured in five of the last ten US Open finals and, considering his form this summer, he has to be backed to win the title this year.
Murray is also breathing down Djokovic's neck in the ATP season singles race and, if he wins a second US Open in a fortnight’s time and Djokovic does not reach the final, Murray could take the lead. Murray will also narrow the gap in the overall rankings, which will really liven up the battle for the number one spot. This might have be one of the longer range targets for the Murray team with Djokovic having dominated it for so long and Murray having never established himself firmly as the number one player in the world, which he definitely has the ability to achieve now he has Lendl back in his camp.
The US Open has thrown up some surprise finalists and winners over the last decade and, while only one player outside the top 10 seeds has won it in this period (Cilic seeded 14 in 2014), there have also been four players ranked outside the top-three seeds who have won or reached the final, Roddick losing finalist seeded 9 2006, Murray losing finalist seeded 6 2008, Del Potro won seeded 6 2009, and Nishikori losing finalist seeded 10 2014. I have already advised Gael Monfils ante post at 200/1 (now as short as 50/1 in places), who has been in decent form during the summer hard court swing and has the game to challenge for the title if he can stay injury free.
Juan Martin Del Potro (22/1) signaled a return to the type of form that won him the US Open in 2009 at the Olympics recently, where he reached the final losing to Andy Murray in an epic four hour four set battle. If he can avoid Murray in the bottom half of the draw he is worth siding with again this year and will also be of interest for the Quarter winning markets but I will update you with any bets of this nature on Monday.
The Women’s tournament always throws up plenty of shocks and surprises and 2015 was one of the biggest in the modern era when Italians Roberta Vinci, who knocked out Serena in the semi’s, and Flavia Pennetta reached the final and Pennetta triumphed beating her compatriot in straight sets. I’m happy to oppose Serena given how she struggled at the Olympics and here last year so I’ll give my thoughts on a couple of outsiders who could go well at big odds.
I’ve already advised Joanna Konta Ante Post at 66/1, who is as short as 33/1 in places now. I also like the look of 2015 semi-finalist Petra Kvitova (22/1) as she’s been in great form lately winning Bronze at the Olympics and, at the time of writing, was on course to defend her New Haven title. The quick conditions at Flushing Meadow clearly suit her powerful aggressive game and there’s no reason why she can’t go one better than 2015 if she can maintain her recent form over the next fortnight.