Last Updated: 2016-08-27
The final Grand Slam of the year hits off on Monday in Queens, New York. The U.S. Open is always a fan favorite, especially among Americans, as it is the premier tennis tournament of the year in The United States. Because it is held almost nine months into the season, and especially this year with the Olympics, a lot of interesting things can happen. Premier players are tired and worn down, especially those who may have travelled from Canada to Rio to Cincinnati and then to New York all within the last month. This tournament always presents the opportunity for someone outside the big 4 to win, see Marin Cilic 2014 and Juan Martin Del Potro 2009. Even though Andy Murray is playing some of the best tennis of his career, he’s surely exhausted and susceptible to an upset. Nobody knows what mental or physical form Novak Djokovic will be in and Roger Federer is not playing. Do not be surprised if we see someone less conventional raising the trophy in Flushing Meadows this year.
Six Players that could win:
Novak Djokovic: (-110)
It is fairly surprising that Djokovic still comes in with this high of a price to win the U.S. Open in light of his summer performance. You can read his first round loss in Rio one of two ways: (1) He was very unfortunate to play Juan Martin Del Potro and it was the perfect storm of events that culminated in his loss. He is now hungrier than ever to defend a title and will cruise at the U.S. Open against other players who are exhausted. Novak did not play in Cincy and should be in good form entering Flushing Meadows. (2) This is some of the most inconsistent tennis we’ve seen from Novak in years and his mental confidence is shot. Juan Martin Del Potro and Sam Querrey exposed the weaknesses in his game and his difficult draw, especially early on will cause him fits, eventually resulting in a loss to someone along the way to the finals. I personally am more inclined to go with the second scenario. He does not have an easy draw by any means and there are a lot of other good players who can beat him right now. Furthermore, when your looking at a -110, there is virtually no value and the price just does not warrant the risk. Of course he’s won this tournament numerous times and does warrant thoughtful consideration. He is still ranked number one in the world and should be taken seriously as a contender.
Andy Murray: (+180)
Murray warrants serious consideration and arguably comes in with some value at a line of +180. Many people actually consider him the favorite to win this tournament, even if the lines don’t say so. He has never entered a Grand Slam with this much momentum and in this good of form. Furthermore, he loves the hard courts and is a previous champion (2012). I would not read too much into his loss against Marin Cilic last week in Cincinnati. If anything, the fact that he made it to the finals the week after winning the Olympic Gold further shows the amazing tennis he’s been playing. His biggest obstacle truly may be himself. At this point in the season, he’s played a ton of tennis. Even though he’s one of the most fit players on tour, mentally and physically you have to think this guy is exhausted. Either way, if playing the futures market, I don’t think you can play it without putting at least a small amount on Murray.
Juan Martin Del Potro: (+1400)
If you didn’t watch the Olympics finals match between JMDP and Murray, that is the first thing you need to do after reading this article. That was truly one of the best matches played in a very long time and certainly the match of the year to date. For all the obvious reasons, JMDP deserves consideration as a potential winner. As a previous champion, who is finally getting back into good health, DelPo could do it again this year. He is playing with great emotion and the fans love and appreciate what he is doing for the game. His endurance and physical stamina are what will likely be his biggest obstacle. Even though he had no trouble keeping pace with Murray through the marathon final in Rio, Grand Slam tennis requires a tremendous amount of strength and stamina. I am not sure that this part of his game is built up enough yet after his long absence from tennis, but that remains to be seen. Certainly value a line of +1400.
Marin Cilic: (+2000)
The casual fan probably does not remember when Cilic was able to sneak out the tile here (2014) in one of the most surprising Grand Slam tournaments of the past decade. Nevertheless, he is a previous champion, who plays very well on the hard courts and is coming off a win in Cincinnati against Andy Murray. The obvious problem that Cilic faces is he is in Novak’s quarter, a player who he is 0-14 against. It’s hard to argue that this will be a changing of the tide, but I am not sure that sole presence of Nole in his quarter is a reason to go against him. After all, Nole lost in the first round of the Olympics and 3R in Wimbledon. If you are looking for a bit of a long shot, which I don’t even really consider to be that long of a shot, Marin is your guy.
Rafael Nadal: (+2000)
Although I must admit my bias in favor of Nadal (favorite player on tour) it’s hard to argue that a 14 time GS Champ, as well as a 2 time US Open Champ is not worth a look at a line of +2000. Health issues are certainly a concern, but Nadal played very good tennis in Rio and seems to be finding his form. His draw sets up nicely and if a few things go the right way for him (an early Novak loss, etc) Nadal could go from being a serious contender, to an actual winner of this tournament. Rafa certainly warrants some consideration in this situation.
Nick Kyrgios: (+5000)
If you are looking for a longer shot, Kyrgios is your guy. Unlike golf where almost anyone in the field has a shot to win on any given weekend In the tennis world, there truly are only about 15 guys who can win a Grand Slam title. On that list of 15, there are five or six serious contenders, mentioned above, and then maybe one or two guys that have an outside shot. Kyrgios is one of those guys who has an outside shot. There is no doubt that he has the talent to win a slam one day and many predict he will go on to becoming a top five player. So for those who are Kyrgios fans, it’s not a matter of if but when. The when may come in Flushing Meadows this year. There’s no reason that we can’t see a repeat of 2014 where two players outside the top ten end up making the final. Nobody in the top ten, minus Murray, is playing that good of tennis and as discussed above, Murray is not unbeatable. If all the right things happen, coupled with the fact that Kyrgios does have an extremely favorable draw, we could see a situation where Kyrgios is playing for the championship in two weekends.
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