The US Open tennis kicks off on Monday, which is the final grand slam event of the calendar year and, as far as punters are concerned, one of the most mouth-watering.
The super-fast courts of Flushing Meadows do lend themselves to plenty of dull, baseline hitting, but then the last three men’s champions – Rafa Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic – are supreme ball strikers, rather than 145mph serve merchants.
There’s plenty of history at stake, with both Roger Federer and Serena Williams needing one more title win here to become the most decorated US Open champions of the modern era.
But it’s also a tournament that lends itself to shock results. Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic, Flavia Pennetta and Sloane Stephens have all lifted the trophy in the past decade, and that suggests the big guns won’t have things all their own way at the Billie Jean King Centre.
Let’s take a look at the market and see if we can unearth some betting value.
Men’s Singles Betting Tips
The name on the trophy is that of Rafael Nadal, whose comeback year was completed in fine style with a straight sets victory over Kevin Anderson in the final.
The hard courts don’t necessarily suit his natural game or his aching limbs these days, but Nadal has a habit of finding a way to win; as he did 12 months ago for the loss of just three sets.
Fatigue eventually caught up with Roger Federer, whose opening two matches both went the distance, and was dumped out in the last eight by del Potro, while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both withdrew with injury.
You could argue then, cruelly and cynically, that Nadal’s victory had an element of good fortune to it, what with two of the ‘big four’ out of action.
There will no such luck this time around, because although Murray is still slowly battling his way back to fitness Djokovic is back at the top of his game; taking the Wimbledon title and the Cincinnati Open just a few weeks ago.
Federer remains a presence in these hard court events, and Nadal’s Canadian Masters victory confirms he’s far from finished, but for our money Djokovic is the main man at Flushing Meadows. We’re happy to have a slice of the 5/2 available on him adding a third US Open title to his collection.
As for an each way flutter, once again the bookies are underestimating Kevin Anderson, making him a throwaway 33/1 hope here.
That’s surprising, given that he is now a two-time major finalist with a pair of semi-final appearances into the bargain.
The South African has a huge serve and a much more reliable baseline game than he used to, and while his inability to break serve could be a real problem for him in the New York heat, he will at least win plenty of cheap points on his own serve.
Women’s Singles Betting Tips
There’s a fascinating betting heat on the women’s side of the draw where Serena Williams is installed as the shakiest of favourites at 6/1.
The darling of Flushing Meadows has found life tricky since reaching the final of Wimbledon, with a couple of heavy defeats at Stanford and in the Cincinnati Masters suggesting that her form has deserted her; due to some extent to off-court issues.
The history books dictate that Serena is a smart bet here, what with six titles and counting, but it would take a significant improvement in her game for the 36-year-old to enter the winner’s enclosure once more.
Perhaps the sensible ploy is to back Simona Halep at 7/1. The Romanian finally got the grand slam monkey off her back by winning the French this year, and that came after a run to the final of the Australian Open.
So the major pedigree is there, and so too is the form: she won the Canadian Masters, and reached the final of the Cincinnati Open, in the past few weeks alone.
This has the feeling of an event where a woman can slip and slide through the draw to the shock of the betting market, and one player for whom the penny appears to be dropping is Kiki Bertens (30/1).
At one time she was known solely for her doubles exploits, but 2018 has witnessed something of a sea-change in her career. Both of her WTA final appearances have come this year – one won, one lost – and she also sailed through to the last eight of Wimbledon.
Even more impressive was the poise and composure she showed in winning that Cincinnati Open just a couple of weeks ago. Look at the list of players she beat there: Vandeweghe, Wozniacki, Svitolina, Kvitova and Halep.
Bertens’ confidence must be through the roof right now, so let’s see if that momentum can carry her through to a first grand slam final.