With the US Open just days away, it’s time to look at the conditions and contenders for the Men’s Singles title. Can anyone challenge favourite Novak Djokovic? Read on to inform your US Open 2021 predictions.
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Inform your predictions ahead of the US Open 2021 with Pinnacle Podcast's Advantage Bettors, featuring host James Gregg alongside 1988 champion Mats Wilander and tennis expert Dan Weston.
US Open 2021: Who are the favourites?
Novak Djokovic, the world number one, is just one Grand Slam away from not only completing the calendar year Slam (an incredible achievement itself) but also his 21st Grand Slam title. Such a feat would put him clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (who have both won 20 each) and perhaps tilt the debate in his favour as to which of the three can be considered the greatest tennis player of all time.
This will be Djovokic's first tournament since the Tokyo Olympics.
The outright market suitably suggests that Djokovic will be incredibly difficult to beat. He leads it as the 1.775* favourite, with Daniil Medvedev (4.990*) and Alexander Zverev (6.970*) the only other players priced at single digits.
However, Djokovic enters the tournament following a lacklustre Olympics, which is the only event he has entered since defeating Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final at the start of July. He lost both his semi-final and bronze medal match in Tokyo before abruptly withdrawing from the mixed doubles.
Understanding the likely conditions is critical to not being influenced strongly by recency bias. Over the last three years at the US Open, the service points won percentage in the men’s event is 1% down on the ATP hard court average figure, while the aces per game count is also marginally below as well. This all points to medium-to-slow conditions in general, which are rather different from the medium-to-fast conditions witnessed in the recent Masters 1000 events in Cincinnati and Toronto.
Zverev has recently enjoyed positive form including winning in Cincinnati last week, and his odds are among the shortest ever offered for the German for a Grand Slam. He has only reached one Grand Slam final in his entire career (a loss to Dominic Thiem here last season in a final set tiebreak), which is arguably a poor return given his reputation. With different conditions expected at the US Open, his win in Cincinnati may not pose as much relevance compared to other pre-Grand Slam warm-up events.
Based on this, some readers might consider Medvedev to be better value at a shorter price and that would be a reasonable conclusion to draw. The Russian does boast better numbers compared to Zverev on hard courts and despite losing to Andrey Rublev in the semi-finals in Cincinnati, the world number two should come into the event with good confidence following victory in Toronto the previous week.
US Open 2021: Who are the notable outsiders?
The next tier of players includes Stefanos Tsitsipas (11.280*) and Andrey Rublev (27.180*), as well as Matteo Berrettini (20.320*), who has received some market support of late. All three are very capable of making it to the latter stages of the tournament, possess good hard court data, and are justified to be classed as better than the remainder of the field.
Players to look out for at larger prices include the Canadian duo Denis Shapovalov (49.990*) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (54.550*), although their numbers suggest they would need to find another level to challenge higher-level players.
This is also the case for the likes of Aslan Karatsev (54.550*), who has failed to maintain his form after an incredible first few months of the season and Karen Khachanov (43.860*). More experienced players, including Roberto Bautista Agut (131.530*), Gael Monfils, and Fabio Fognini (both 219.010*) are well exposed at this level and are unlikely to threaten the higher-ranked players, meaning a quarter-final finish should be seen as a positive result for them.
You can also check out Dan’s preview of the Women’s Singles tournament at this year’s US Open.