Derek Bilton is here with his US Open betting preview and he has a real sense that the Rafa/Roger/Nole Cartel could be smashed in New York.
The final Grand Slam of the year is upon us and as always the big question is whether any player on the ATP Tour has the cojones to topple legendary trio Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The “Big Three” have won the past 11 majors, and a mind-bending 54 Grand Slam titles in total between them.
For these very reasons all three are predictably short in the betting but let’s have it right, they can’t go on forever and for the first time in years – thanks to one man – I have a real sense that the Rafa/Roger/Nole Cartel could be smashed in New York.
Step forward Daniil Medvedev. The young Russian proved beyond reasonable doubt during the recent North American hardcourt swing that he’s the real deal. Medvedev reached the championship match in all three lead up tournaments he played, culminating in a Masters 1000 success in Cincinnati. During his hardcourt hot streak he beat the likes of Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Karen Khachanov and David Goffin. The big question is whether he can translate this blistering form into the best-of-five format? But the signs are good.
Winning tennis matches is all about being able to win match points. A hellacious strike of a forehand return did it against Djokovic in their Cincinnati semi, and he cleaned up his first Master 1000 title with three throbbing aces from 15-40 down when serving for the match. He’s in red hot form and it was a joy to see him switch tactics after losing the first set to Djokovic and just start going balls out on his second serve!
So, having had a week off to recover and fine tune his game there’s much to like about his current 13/1 odds (which halved in price after his Cincy title win).
If you want a quick summary of the draw, then the top half is loaded (Medvedev is in there with Federer and Djokovic) while Nadal’s route to the final (on paper anyway) looks a bit of a cakewalk in the eyes of some observers. However Nadal’s body broke down at the US Open last year and he’s had another arduous campaign in 2019.
Gambling logic suggests five-time champion Federer and three-time champion Djokovic are projected to meet in the semi-finals, but as stated we reckon the Russian will put a spanner in the works.
As for Djokovic, in late 2019 you would have to concede that he’s still the best hardcourt player in the world today when he’s physically and emotionally healthy. But Medvedev proved in Cincinnati he’s not invincible so he looks more of a vulnerable favourite going in for the first time in a long time.
It’s not great news for fans of Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has a ‘death row’ draw and will do well to reach the business end. He faces an in-form Andrey Rublev first and could meet Nick Kyrgios early on too.
Kyrgios is a strange one. When everything clicks for him, he had shown he can win titles (see Washington). However when the demons resurface he is just as likely to fake a toilet break so that he can walk down a corridor and smash two rackets. It’s a leap of faith as always but the Aussie is a juicy price at 80/1. If ‘Good Nick’ turns up he can give punters a real run for their dough, especially when you consider he cannot meet a ‘Big Three’ opponent until at least the semi’s. Or, just as likely, ‘Bad Nick’ shows up and he loses in the first round to Steve Johnson.
On the women’s side, there’s no clear favourite this year and both of last year’s finalists – Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams – are dealing with injuries. Osaka has been rubbish for a while now and 11/1 odds are just not tempting enough. Serena is the 5/1 favourite but she’s yet to win a Major since her comeback from having a baby and I can’t get her Wimbledon final capitulation against Simona Halep out of my mind.
Halep looks like she will be a trendy pick but the last time I backed her with hard cash to win at Flushing Meadows , she lost in the first round.
This season has seen three different major champions in the women’s game and a fourth would not surprise if Bianca Andreescu brings her ‘A Game’. She won Indian Wells this year with a fearsome display of dominant groundstroke hitting. And also won the Rogers Cup earlier this month. But she’s been plagued by a shoulder problem this summer hence her quite generous 14/1 quotes.
In terms of a popcorn first rounder, how about Victoria Azarenka v Aryna Sabalenka? The matchup every Belarusian fan was dreaming of but never thought would happen, is happening.
Sabalenka’s record in the Slams is truly atrocious but she’s too talented not to run hot one of these days in a major and with this one wide open there’s no harm in having a small tickle on her at 33/1.
She has a tough draw and is quite fragile at the moment so logic dictates she will fall early. However the heart is a strange beast and not ruled by logic so let’s hope Sabalenka just shows up and blows up with her own inimitable brand of lights out tennis.
Bilko’s Banker: Daniil Medvedev to win the US Open at 13/1 (Paddy Power)
Best of the Rest #1: Nick Kyrgios (each-way) to win the US Open at 80/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest #3: Bianca Andreescu to win the US Open at 14/1 (bet365/Paddy Power)
Best of the Rest #4: Aryna Sabalenka (each-way) to win the US Open at 33/1 (Paddy Power)
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