2014 US Open Tennis Picks, Odds and Predictions for Men's and Women's Draw
by Alan Matthews - 8/22/2014
Dedicated tennis fans tend to favor Wimbledon as the most prestigious of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments each year. I can't argue with that. However, obviously the vast majority of American tennis fans and bettors prefer the U.S. Open. Obviously, there's the simple fact it's played in the States and thus at normal times to our body/betting clocks. The Australian Open is played in the middle of the night U.S. time, while the French and Wimbledon have their finals in the morning USA time. The U.S. Open is all about prime-time TV.
Plus, very few Americans have ever played on clay (French) or grass (Wimbledon). Those crowds in Paris and London, while dedicated, are rather reserved. Have you ever heard a New York crowd referred to as reserved? They get into it at the Open, to the point it can feel like a football game at times. Unfortunately, this year's event, which begins Monday at Flushing Meadows and runs through Sept. 8, is lacking a few things on the men's side that would really make it must-see TV. That said, what it's missing might make for great betting value on Roger Federer, the all-time Grand Slam leader.
One big thing lacking is any reason for Americans to get fired up about the chances of a U.S. male doing much. I think we are all aware the state of American tennis right now on the men's side. It's potentially as bad as it ever has been in the Open era. The highest-seeded American in New York is No. 13 John Isner, and while he has perhaps the biggest serve on tour he's not going to win. Just reaching the quarterfinals would be a success because he has done that only once at the U.S. Open: in 2011. The past two years he was ousted in the third round. Isner is +10000 at Sportsbook.ag to win. Don't waste your money.
Finally, the other thing this Open really misses is defending champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is all about emotion and hustle, and he usually wins over the crowds in New York. Nadal has some style, something you can't say about most tennis players these days. Unfortunately, has been dealing with a wrist injury for months and had to pull out. Nadal's chances of being crowned the greatest tennis player of all time in terms of most Grand Slam wins are in jeopardy because he can't stay healthy. This will be the third Slam he has missed the past two years. Nadal is the first reigning U.S. Open champion not to defend since Juan Martin Del Potro missed the 2010 tournament. Del Petro is also out of this tournament due to injury. He's the only guy other than the Big 4 of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win the U.S. Open since 2004.
With Nadal out, Federer by far benefits more than any other player. For one, he doesn't have to face his nemesis. Second, he moves up to the second seed and thus will avoid Djokovic until the finals if everything goes chalk. The draw also was incredibly kind to Federer, who is the +250 second favorite at Sportsbook.ag. Essentially, the best player Federer would face to reach the finals would be fourth seed David Ferrer in the semis. Ferrer has never won a Grand Slam tournament and reached only one final: losing the 2013 French to Nadal.
Djokovic, the +120 favorite, has reached the Open final four straight years, winning it in 2011 against Nadal. He also lost to the Spaniard in the 2010 & '13 final and to Murray in 2012. The draw is stacked against Djokovic. He could face Isner in the Round of 16 (OK probably nothing), Murray (+500) or talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+2500) in the quarterfinals and then possibly Australian Open champ Stan Wawrinka (+1200) in the semis. Tsonga beat Djokovic a few weeks ago on the hard courts of Toronto and Wawrinka beat Djokovic in an epic five-set match at the Aussie Open (also hard courts).
Federer won a record five straight U.S. Opens from 2004-08. He was runner-up in 2009 and hasn't been back to the finals since. His only Grand Slam win since the 2010 Aussie Open was Wimbledon in 2012. Still, I believe Federer's run to the 2014 Wimbledon final, where he lost in five tough sets to Djokovic, was a good sign. He beats Djokovic in this championship match for a Open-era record sixth U.S. Open title. It will be the 33-year-old Federer's 18th and final Slam.
The women's side as usual is Serena Williams and everyone else. She's the +150 favorite at Sportsbook.ag. It's hard to believe that Serena hasn't made a Grand Slam quarterfinal this year. Frankly, I think that motivates her even more. In addition, she has won this tournament the last two years, beating Victoria Azarenka in three sets in both, and feeds off the crowds. Williams' bracket includes No. 24 Samantha Stosur (who beat Serena in the 2011 U.S. Open final) No. 8 Ana Ivanovic (+3000), No. 16 Azarenka (+1500; dealing with injuries and has barely played this year) and No. 3 Petra Kvitova (+1000; doesn't play well in this event). That doesn't seem too challenging.
No. 5 seed Maria Sharapova, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, is the +600 second favorite. Her bracket includes No. 2 Simona Halep (+800), whom she would meet in the quarterfinals, and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki (+2500), who has been playing well post-Rory McIlroy.
A Serena title would be No. 6 at the U.S. Open, tying her for the most with Chris Evert. Williams beats Agnieszka Radwanska (+1800) in the final.
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