The U.S. Open is back, bringing tennis’ biggest stars together on one stage in their quest to claim the final Grand Slam of the year.
The tournament will run from August 26 through September 8 and will be the 139th edition of the only tennis Major played in the United States.
Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka will each hope to defend their title this year while veterans Roger Federer and Serena Williams have records in their sights in New York.
Let’s take a look at which players are the strong contenders and which ones might surprise us!
The Dominant Forces
In the Men’s draw, it’s hard to look past the ‘Big 3’ for the title. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal have shared the last eleven Grand Slam titles between them. In fact, the last time someone won a major, who was not part of the trio, was in 2016 when Stan Wawrinka claimed the U.S. Open title.
Djokovic will return to Grand Slam action six weeks after he defeated Roger Federer to become Wimbledon champion for the fifth time in his career, and his chances look more favourable this time around. The Serb featured in seven of the past nine U.S. Open finals, which clearly makes him the overwhelming favourite to go all the way this year, however, will his recent defeat in Cincinnati give hope to his rivals?
Djokovic, who has won four of the previous five Grand Slam titles, is a firm favourite at 2.0* to defend his title at Flushing Meadows. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are his chief rivals but neither has been as consistent as Djokovic in this competition.
Nadal is the second seed coming into this tournament and is also the only other men’s player to have won a major this year. The 33-year-old is considered as the greatest clay-court player of all-time but has also found success on grass and hard court surfaces.
With odds of 3.5*, Nadal has to prove that his body is still capable of withstanding the daunting hardcourts. His last non-French Open major title win had come at the US Open in 2017, however, Djokovic wasn’t around to challenge the Spaniard.
The Swiss master won a record five straight U.S. Open titles from 2004-2008 and has made at least the quarterfinals in seven out of his last nine appearances at Flushing Meadows, including two finals appearances. With a record of 18-2 on the hard-court surface, we can see why he is considered such a dangerous opponent.
The No. 3 in the world rankings lost to Nadal in the semifinals of the 2019 French Open and then dropped the 2019 Wimbledon finals against Novak Djokovic. This time, he has been drawn in the same half as Djokovic for the U.S. Open, meaning we could be in for an interesting semi-final in New York. Despite having a difficult route to glory, the odds that Federer will win are 8.0* .
In the women’s singles category, things get a little more unpredictable. As history has it, the U.S. Open has crowned a different female champion each of the past five years. In fact, the last eleven Grand Slams have been won by ten different female players.
World No.1 Osaka tops the seeding list, as the Japanese superstar heads into New York City with aims of defending her title.The 21-year old made waves when she defeated Serena Williams in the finals of the last years’ U.S. Open. She proved her win was no fluke when she won the 2019 Australian Open by defeating Petra Kvitova.
Prior to her back-back-victories, Osaka never made it past the 4th round of any Grand Slam tournament. Hence, the Japanese prodigy will be looking to rediscover her form at the scene of her first triumph.
Osaka made a name for herself 12 months ago, but early-round exits in the French Open and Wimbledon this year suggest being among the favourites does not always sit comfortably with her. As a result, she is valued at 12.0* to win.
The American hasn't won a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2017. However, since her return from childbirth the following year, she has reached three major finals, including at the U.S. Open last year.
Williams is strong on home soil, with five titles at Flushing Meadows to her name. Like Djokovic, she's incredibly consistent there. Aside from absences in 2010 and 2017, she has made it to the final four or better in every U.S. Open appearance since 2008.
If she continues to reach major finals, it’s only a matter of time before she secures her 24th title, and that could happen sooner than expected given her excellent record. However, much will depend on her current fitness, as she might still suffer from back problems which caused her to retire in Cincinnati. A return to Flushing Meadows is also sure to dredge up memories of last year's controversial final, when Williams broke her racket and had an argument with the umpire. Considering her record and the fact that she’s playing on familiar grounds, we price Williams at 4.5*.
The Romanian is regaining her form this year as she finished in the round of 16 of the Australian Open, exited the French Open at the quarterfinals, and emerged victorious at Wimbledon.
The 27-year-old defeated Serena Williams in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. Prior to that, she also knocked off Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals. During the entire 2019 Wimbledon tournament, Halep dropped just one set in a dominant performance.
Despite not being as consistent as Serena Williams, her recent form has given her odds of 8.5* to win.
Men’s: Daniil Medvedev
Medvedev, 23, has enjoyed an impressive hard-court season to date, reaching the finals in Washington and Montreal before winning his first Masters title in Cincinnati.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was one of Medvedev’s victims en route to Cincinnati glory, with the Russian prevailing 3-6 6-3 6-3 in their semi-final meeting.
“He's definitely one of the best players in the world,” Djokovic admitted after the defeat, having also lost to Medvedev earlier this year on the Monte Carlo clay.
The fifth seed will pose as a potential quarter-final opponent to one of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Dominic Thiem, but he will also have to cope with increased expectations following his rapid rise up the rankings.
His fightback against the best player in the world should raise confidence he can upset the odds in his favour. It will be tougher over five sets but with his current form, Medvedev appears the most credible threat to the big three.
Medvedev is backed at 13.0* to take home his first Majors trophy.
Women’s: Karolina Pliskova
Former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova from the Czech Republic, who reached the US Open final in 2016, is our underdog for the women’s singles category.
Pliskova is yet to win a major but frequently shows that the potential is there. The U.S. Open looks like her most favoured Grand Slam, and she could emerge as a surprise contender for the crown.
The 27-year-old has made it to at least the final eight of the previous three tournaments. She lost to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 final, followed by back-to-back quarter-final exits against CoCo Vandeweghe and Williams in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
More recently, the Czech defeated Kerber in the 2019 Nature Valley International final at Eastbourne before falling to Karolina Muchova in the fourth round at Wimbledon, keeping her at No. 3 in the WTA rankings.
With so much experience, she might surprise the fans and finally go all the way. Fancy giving the Czech a chance? We value her at 11.0* to win her first trophy.
*Odds are subject to change | Gamble Responsibly