US OPEN – MEN’S DRAW
I don’t think anyone would have predicted a US Open final contested by Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori a year ago, but that’s what we had in New York in 2014, with Cilic, yes Cilic, landing a major title.
Twelve months on and I still can’t believe that Cilic is a defending major champion, but he comes back to New York to try and win it again and once more he’s a huge price at 90.00.
I can’t recall many defending major champs being put up at that sort of price, but it shows how random that fortnight in Flushing was and how far away from that form the Croatian has been ever since a year ago.
Cilic has won only three of his 12 matches against top-20 opposition since his New York glory, but there again he came to Flushing a year ago having not won more than two straight matches since Wimbledon.
If he finds that level from a year ago again he could well cause major problems with a good draw, but it would be hard to see him beating Novak Djokovic if drawn in the same half as the world number one.
Still, at 90.00 it could be worth taking a chance that a return to Flushing Meadows sparks Cilic into life at the scene of his quite stunning triumph. If drawn away from Djokovic I couldn’t write him off.
Nishikori was in excess of 101.00 last year too, but that was mainly to do with the fact that he said he might not even play round one due to injury, and more on him tomorrow.
At a similar price to Cilic we have Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov, and it’s been the same old story for the former of late, with a dismal loss to Alexandr Dolgopolov following an almost double bagel win over Tommy Robredo in Cincy.
The Berdman would also need to avoid Djokovic to have any chance of making the final, but I wouldn’t put it completely past him if he were drawn with Roger Federer, who is still vulnerable over five sets.
The Czech also tends to inexplicably not show for big matches on too regular a basis and the high point for him this fortnight would be a potential win over Federer if the draw works out that way.
Dimitrov appears to have totally lost his way at the moment and it seems highly unlikely that the Bulgarian will see the latter stages unless he gets a really good draw.
He has won only two of his last 14 matches against top-20 opposition and has made only two semi finals all year and no finals for almost 12 months.
At more than double the price of Dimitrov we have Milos Raonic at 300.00 and this is a reflection of the lack of fitness and match practice that the Canadian is suffering from at the moment.
Raonic has struggled with foot problems all summer and he says he now suffers back problems due to overcompensating to protect the foot and it’s hard to see how he could suddenly overcome all that and go deep here.
That said, we all said the same about Nishikori last year, so I wouldn’t rule Raonic out totally, as he could ease his way into the event with a kind draw and I’d prefer to back him than Dimitrov.
Nick Kyrgios is another who has fitness problems and I’ve always had the belief that he doesn’t have the physical stamina to really contend at a major – at least not yet – and along with his ‘other’ issues he’s easily overlooked.
David Ferrer is yet another with injury problems and he hasn’t played since before Wimbledon, butKevin Anderson and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could possibly sneak a quarter final with a good draw.
Anderson has struggled after a great grass swing, but with a good showing at Winston-Salem this week he should make week two, but Tsonga is seemingly not the player he was and the Frenchman struggled again at Winston-Salem, losing early to Steve Johnson.
John Isner has had a rest since his crazy run of 15 matches post-Wimbledon, but is it enough, or has he yet again played too much tennis ahead of his home major?
The big man looked less than fit in Montreal and Cincy and he’s yet to really perform in New York, with one quarter final in eight tries, and for me he’s better suited to best-of-three in places like Indian Wells and Cincy, where conditions help him.
Indeed, that 2011 US Open quarter final remains Isner’s only appearance in the last eight of a major in his eight years (he’s only made the fourth round four times) of playing at Grand Slams and so 260.00 seems about right.
The young guns Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev and the slightly older Dominic Thiem aren’t ready for this yet, and then we’re into the ‘unpredictables’.
Ernests Gulbis, Gael Monfils and Jerzy Janowicz have all made semi finals in majors in the past, but all are miles away from that the moment, with Lamonf having split with another coach recently.
Dolgopolov is probably a better shout at 570.00 if an unpredictable sort is your thing, but does he have the stamina issues, and has made only one quarter final in 21 majors.
So, it’s not looking good for the outsiders, with for me Cilic being the only one who has a decent chance of making us a back-to-lay profit if he gets that kind draw and becomes inspired by a return to Flushing Meadows.
Back to lay Cilic at 90.00