US Open 2016: Men’s and Women’s Preview

We take a look at the betting for the 2016 US Open being played in New York from Monday 29 August.

The U.S Open Series, ordinarily the backbone of the hardcourt season, was essentially hijacked and downsized by the Rio Olympics.

Seeing that the traditional run-in has been dramatically altered, this year’s US Open may indeed be one of the toughest to call. Players are entering in various physical and psychological states while some of the overwhelming favourites are short of form and match-time.

The absence of the iconic Roger Federer offers a slightly melancholic glimpse into what life will be like without the Swiss master. Novak will attempt to re-establish his dominance of the men’s game while Serena aims to surpass Steffi Graf and become the most successful woman’s tennis player in Grand Slam history.

The introduction of a roof in Arthur Ashe Stadium this year will also give the top seeds some peace of mind whilst potentially creating a cauldron-like atmosphere at the year’s most ostentatious Slam.

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To Win Outright (Men)
Novak Djokovic 12/10 |  Andy Murray 37/20  | Milos Raonic 15/1 | Juan Martin Del Potro 16/1 | Stan Wawrinka 20/1 | Rafael Nadal 20/1

The Men
One can’t go into a discussion of the men’s draw without first mentioning the absence of the world’s living metronome: Roger Federer. He may have not won a Slam in a few years, but you always felt that he was a contender, especially at Flushing Meadows. This year may have ironically suited him even more, giving the use of a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. Had it rained, Arthur Ashe would have been turned into just the type of indoor hardcourt surface that Federer still commands. Tomas Berdych also misses out, leaving some real opportunity for progression in the draw

The Favourite
As it is, Novak Djokovic is looking to rebound from a strange period of stagnation.That shock defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon was followed by a shock first round defeat at Rio. However, the gregarious Serb has had plenty of time to reflect and will still go into this as the overwhelming favourite.

Andy Murray has been terrific of late, with the twin glory of Wimbledon and Olympic Gold encapsulating his recent form. But the defeat to Marin Cilic in the Cincinnati final was perhaps an indication of the effects that Rio has had on the Scot. He had played fourteen games in fifteen days and looked weary. He will be going into the tournament slightly refreshed, but I just have the impression that Novak’s current tradition of Grand Slam domination will be rekindled.

The Contenders
Milos Raonic is a player whose star seems on the perpetual rise. He looks genuinely capable of beating anyone, reaching the semis in Australia and his first slam final at SW19. His game will be suited to the medium-fast courts at Flushing Meadows, his ability to volley giving him some variety. I prefer his chances to those of Kei Kishikori or Rafael Nadal - for whom unfettered on-court physicality seems to have finally taking its toll. Stan Wawrinka could well be a force while Jo-Wifried Tsonga and Gael Monfils will once again flatter to deceive.

The Outside Bets
Richard Gasquet’s current career trajectory reminds me so much of Tommy Haas from several years back. Haas, well into the twilight of his career and probably satisfied with the lucrative path he has forged, began to focus intently on the Slams, getting satisfying results well into his thirties. Gasquet seems to have reached the point where he has acknowledged the cold inevitability of eventual retirement and it has allowed him to focus on Slam success.

Unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini- who accounted for Nadal’s demise in last year’s U.S Open (while pushing Andy Murray at this year’s Olympics) - has a ferocious game that just needs some consistency.

Austrian Dominic Thiem has won four tournaments this year on all surfaces, including on the hard courts in Acapulco, so he could be a threat. Germany’s Giles Muller could also be a surprise package. Wildcard entry Juan Martin Del-Porto- the 2009 champion - is experiencing something of an Indian Summer after winning the Silver Medal in Rio.  In general, the men’s draw should fall down to either Djokovic or Murray, but there are plenty of decent bets for deep runs in the tournament.

Classic Finals
John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg in five sets in 1980, denying Borg his first victory at Flushing Meadows.

Juan Martin Del Porto pulls off one of the biggest shocks in contemporary Final history when he comes from behind to beat Roger Federer in five sets.

The Women
To Win Outright (Women) Odds to be added after Day 1
The women’s draw is an entirely different beast to the men’s. In the last eleven years, there have been four surprise winners in the men’s draw (including two at the US Open- Cilic and Del Potro). There have been eleven in the women’s. This is a clear indication of the difficulty that the women’s game has had in finding that great rival for Serena Williams - leading to derision from some quarters that the women’s game is weak. There may be an element of truth to that claim, but it perhaps underestimates the level of brilliance that the American has maintained throughout her unbelievable career.

The Favourites
Serena Williams remains the woman to beat in the game. In attempting to break Steffi Graf’s record tally, Williams will have to conquer a field that will sense weakness following her slightly embarrassing first round exit at Rio. Angelique Kerber missed out on the opportunity to replace Serena - as ridiculous as this sounds - as world number one in Cincinnati. Ultimately, she was thoroughly outplayed by Pliskova and revealed why it is that Flushing Meadows should be a step too far for her. I would probably hold out more hope for Garbine Muguruza. The French Open Champion underperformed at Wimbledon, in a manner that has become the norm for modern tennis’ first time champions. But I expect her to perform much better with the pressure off. Aside from Serena, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for any of the world’s top five.

The Contenders
More interesting for me are the girls just outside the top five. Madison Keys has had an interesting year and has a perfect game for the fast courts in New York. She’s one dimensional in the sense that she doesn’t seem to have a plan B. But here’s to hoping that she doesn’t need it, because her plan A is pretty awesome.

Britain’s Johanna Krupa is similarly aggressive and stands a chance to take out one of the so-called big names should she curtail her unforced error count. And Petra Kvitova- with that formidable serve- will always stand a chance, should she keep those first serve percentages up.

The Outside Bet
Considering that there have been more surprises in the Women’s game than the men’s - just look at Flavia Pennetta’s victory over Roberta Vinci last year -  there is always a greater chance of a surprise victor in the women’s draw. Svetlana Kuznetsova is my perennial one to watch. She loves the New York hard courts and has been in decent form. Former champion Samantha Stosur will always have her say while Ana Ivanovic has the ability to elevate her game for the big occasions. Finally, one shouldn’t discount Olympic champions Monica Pugh. This is not just a knee-jerk response - she beat Kvitova, Kerber and Murguruza en route to the final.

Classic Finals
Arantxa Sanchez’s unbelievable victory against overwhelming favourite Steffi Graf in 1990 is a defeat that stung the unflappable German.

Flavia Pennetta’s historic victory over Italian compatriot Roberta Vinci in 2015 was perhaps the most unlikely final in Grand Slam history.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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