Ace Tennis Previews: US Open Tips

Ace is providing US Open Tips throughout the tournament with the penultimate Grand Slam of the year now upon us.

Ace will provide his best bets for the tournament every single day so bookmark the page for all of his analysis across the two weeks.

Grand Slam tennis is the perfect time to start backing and laying on Betfair. Head to the Exchange.

Medvedev v Djokovic

Another year of major tennis comes to an end tonight with Novak Djokovic vs Daniil Medvedev and, with it, the final match preview of the year for the Betfair Hub. A big thank you to everyone who has followed along over the course of another year on the Hub.

Much like the women’s final, there is going to be a story here regardless of the winner. We have Novak Djokovic on the final leg of his quest to go 28-0 at grand slams across the calendar year, having overcome injury (at the Australian Open), a couple of 2-set deficits at Roland Garros and the next generation of players testing him late in grand slams this year.

In recent months, we have seen the likes of Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini find themselves in leading positions in grand slam matches against Djokovic. On every occasion, we have seen a mix of the leading player tightening up, combined with Djokovic finding a way to manoeuvre his way through tricky spots to continue to pile the pressure on his less experienced player at the other end of the court. We have seen it this fortnight against lesser players as well, with Djokovic responding well to dropped sets against Rune, Nishikori and Brooksby on his way to the final as well as Zverev.

I have written a fair bit about Novak this fortnight, so would simply be repeating myself if I went through his recent form again here. This match is a little different for Novak, as he is trying to match a feat last completed in the ATP by Rod Laver, in winning every major in the calendar year. There is likely to be a step up in nerves for Novak. He has won 20 grand slams, however, with a win here ticking off the calendar slam and surpassing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to reach 21 major titles, this is arguably the biggest match of his career to date. If he hasn’t had it all his own way against Rune, Brooksby, Nishikori and Zverev with fewer nerves, how will he handle today?

Luckily for him, he has Medvedev at the other end of the court trying to achieve something for the first time as well. The Russian is looking to claim his first slam in his third final, having lost in the US to Rafael Nadal in 5 sets in 2019, and to Djokovic in straight sets at the Australian Open in February.

I don’t think too much can actually be read into that one-sided match-up in Melbourne, for a couple of reasons. The overall Melbourne summer of tennis had its quirks and involved Medvedev playing a significant amount of tennis in the lead-up through the ATP Cup and the Open itself. It also had the drama around Djokovic and the injury he sustained in the early rounds, and like a couple of the other players (and tennis followers including myself), a little too much was read into it by Medvedev.

After looking strong on serve for the majority of the tournament, Medvedev was forced to play catch-up from the outset, then was broken by Novak with an impressive return game at 5-6, and couldn’t consolidate an early break in the second, fading out of the contest. Medvedev is coming into this match-up in better shape this time and better for the experience and looks a decent price today: a price I would probably take if it were anywhere else but a grand slam final.

The outright results for the tournament have been disappointing (thanks largely to the WTA results, as exciting as the fortnight was), however, it has been offset somewhat by the outright stakes on both Djokovic and Medvedev. At present, the most profitable return is Djokovic to win.

Instead of jumping back into the outright market even more, I am going to make a 1 unit selection on the total going over the 38.5 games listed. Both players can dig in and play well from behind, and regardless of the frontrunner, there are likely to be nerves abound in this final.

More importantly, sit back and watch the potential for a historical US Open final.

Good luck, and thank you for reading any one or all of the pieces of content across the daily grand slam match previews in 2021.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit total games over 38.5 (recorded at $1.88)

Raducanu v Fernandez

The WTA US Open Final is here, and it is a glimpse into the future of tennis at the level.

Regardless of the winner here, this is going to be a phenomenal result. Emma Raducanu has yet to drop a set in her eight victories for the tournament. That’s right, she had to make it through qualifying to simply make the main draw here in Flushing Meadows. Projected to jump from 150 in the world into the Top 50, this fortnight is still a very early chapter in the story of Raducanu.

Whilst she has displayed some impressive tennis to this point of her career, there were some question markets at times around her ability to handle pressure – a totally understandable thing given the pressure on her, as we saw at Wimbledon when she made the 4th round. She has made her way through here without so much as a sweat, most recently rattling off dominant straight-set wins against Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari.

Whilst the wins have been exceptional, I do almost feel as though I’d have preferred she found herself in a significant moment of adversity along the way this fortnight. She has faced 25 break point opportunities and saved 20, a significant improvement on her average break point save rates. Will we see some regression towards the average here on the biggest stage?

Is Leylah Fernandez almost relieved to see Raducanu across the net? I wrote about her in the lead-up up to the semifinal, but I do just want to touch on her run to the final again, with another impressive chapter in the semifinal.

  • Ana Konjuh had multiple set points on serve in round 1, however, Fernandez won it 7-6 6-2 as an underdog.
  • Kaia Kanepi served for the second set in round 2 and had 4 set points in total, however, Fernandez won 7-5 7-5.
  • Naomi Osaka led 7-5 *6-5, before Fernandez broke, won the tiebreak and never trailed in the decider.
  • Angelique Kerber led 6-4 4-2 before Fernandez broke to love, went on to win the second set in a tiebreak, then ran away with the decider 6-2.
  • Fernandez dug herself out of consecutive 0/30 spots to start the decider against Elina Svitolina, gave up a 5-2 lead, then won in a tiebreak.
  • Came from 1-4 down to claim the first set against Aryna Sabalenka, dropped the second set, then broke to win 6-4 in the decider.

She has faced adversity every step of the way, and found a way to come out on top. Outside of her win against Kanepi, where she saved 7/8 break points, she has done it largely without any significant outlier performances statistically. With her stats a little easier to sustain, and having come through the far more difficult run in terms of grand slam opposition, is Fernandez a touch over the odds here?

I think so. I have the odds here a lot closer to a coin flip, with Raducanu a slight favourite on my ratings. I tossed up making a play on Fernandez to win in 3 sets, but I prefer the value in the Canadian here at the moneyline price north of $2.50. Just a 1.25 unit play to wrap up the women’s portion of the US Open.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.25 units Fernandez to defeat Raducanu (recorded at $2.60)

Medvedev vs Auger-Aliassime

I fear this match has the ability to become a little one-sided on Day 12 of the US Open.

Personally, I think Daniil Medvedev is likely to have far too much for Felix Auger-Aliassime today, as the Russian is stronger in most areas of his overall game. Let me break it down in a couple of categories.

First of all, Medvedev has looked more consistent across not only this tournament, but the larger sample sizes of both the North American hardcourt swing, and the hardcourt form of the last 12 months. You could argue that Medvedev, along with Zverev, are the ‘form’ players at the moment on the tour given Djokovic skipped the last month on tour, and it has shown across the course of the first 10 days of the tournament. Whilst Medvedev did drop a set to Botic Van De Zandschulp in the quarter final, he has looked rock solid the rest of the way, having dropped serve only 5 times across the 5 matches.

FAA on the other hand has been a little more up and down. He had to break against Donskoy in round 1 to avoid falling down 2 sets to 1, and won a 4th set tiebreak 10-8 to avoid a decider. Things improved from there, with a strong win over Zapata Miralles, then a 5 set win over Bautista Agut, followed by a 4 set win over France Tiafoe, and a win via retirement against Alcaraz in the quarter final. He has now made his way into uncharted territory at the level, making his first career semi-final. Does that form stack up though with Medvedev across the net?

My worry for FAA here is not only Medvedev having the experience edge, but also my concerns around how the Russian matches up here. The topspin from FAA will play into the hands of Medvedev, allowing him to continue to flatten out shots off both wings, making it hard for FAA at the net, but also forcing him to consistently generate more topspin. My other worry is the return of serve for Medvedev.

On a number of occasions not only this fortnight, but this year, FAA has gone through patches where he can be reliant on his Deuce serve out wide in some key moments. Whilst this has worked well against a number of players, I don’t see this as being an effective approach against Medvedev. The Russian is one of, if not the best at using the angles given to him for his own advantage, and FAA is likely to consistently find himself at the mercy of Medvedev’s angles on the return of serve, especially if he is looking to serve and volley.

This will be a great learning experience for FAA at the very least. However, for mine, I cannot go past a play on Medvedev at the game handicap. Whilst I do have that small outright on Medvedev live here as well, I am happy to make a 1.5 unit selection on the Russian at the game handicap at odds north of $2.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Medvedev -6.5 games (recorded at $2.12)

Zverev v Djokovic

After I backed Alexander Zverev to beat Novak Djokovic in Tokyo a couple of months ago, I have now flipped my position and support based on the odds of this match-up today.

Rewind for a minute and let’s take a look at that match in Tokyo. Novak was in near-complete control, leading 6-1 *3-2 with Zverev serving a high first serve percentage. From there, things flipped quite quickly, as a combination of nerves and fatigue from a week of singles and mixed doubles looked to catch up with Novak. Zverev won 16 of the next 20 points on the Djokovic and ran away with the match. Personally, I cannot read too much into that match, given the factors of heat, accumulation of tennis from Djokovic not only in Tokyo but also on the quick back-up from Wimbledon, and the fact it was best of 3 set tennis.

Looking to today, and Djokovic is now at longer odds than he was in Tokyo, with the same game handicap of -4.5 games. This is one of the lower hardcourt handicaps we have seen for a fully fit Djokovic in quite some time. Whilst he did have a lapse late in the first set against Matteo Berrettini, he did manage to put together one of the more impressive bursts of tennis for the tournament across sets 2 to 4, absolutely dominating the Italian in every aspect of the match. Novak made a statement, and you could tell from his comments on court afterwards that he was already targeting Zverev with some of his answers. He prefers the best of 5, and it shows with his record this year.

After struggling early against Jack Sock, Zverev hasn’t had things go all his own way against Jannik Sinner and Lloyd Harris. Both had set point opportunities on their racquets which they couldn’t convert, perhaps flattering the German on the scoreboard a touch. Had you asked Zverev if he would have taken a path of Querrey, Ramos, Sock, Sinner and Harris to reach the semi final, he would have likely jumped at the opportunity.

Has he been challenged enough recently? Outside of his tough battle against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Cincinnati, and perhaps Andrey Rublev (albeit an off Rublev in the final), it has been a relatively friendly run for Zverev over the last couple of weeks in comparison to some others. Tomorrow we find out more about his game.

Zverev has looked the least comfortable this fortnight in the night conditions when he was facing Jack Sock, and with Djokovic tuned to the conditions after a number of night sessions, that could give him the edge early. Much like Medvedev, I need to acknowledge that I have an outright in play here on Novak as well.

Further to this, I will make a 1.5 unit selection on Djokovic to win and cover the -4.5 game handicap. That is too hard to pass up given the form he has displayed for mine. With all the focus on toilet breaks, MTOs and teenagers making deep runs this fortnight, the fact that Djokovic is only two wins away from something incredible is flying under the radar, and I am happy to back him in here.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Djokovic -4.5 games vs Zverev (recorded at $2)

What a whirlwind couple of weeks it has been for women’s tennis. Whilst it looked as though things were on track for a couple of the biggest names in the game, back-to-back upsets of Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty on consecutive nights on Arthur Ashe completely changed the complexion of the entire tournament.

The big question now is: who will take advantage and claim their first major title?

Sabalenka vs Fernandez

In a normal year, you’d have to go back a fair way to look for a performance from a teenager as impressive as what we have seen from Leylah Fernandez. This year, however, there is one such story in each semi-final.

There are a couple of parts to the Fernandez story which make it so interesting to analyse. The first is the lead-in form coming into the tournament. She lost in qualifying to Harriet Dart in her home country, then after qualifying in Cincinnati lost 2-6 2-6 to Alison Riske who is 5-15 over her last 20 matches on tour.

Ana Konjuh had multiple set points on serve in round 1, however, Fernandez won it 7-6 6-2 as an underdog. Kaia Kanepi served for the second set in round 2 and had 4 set points in total, however, Fernandez won 7-5 7-5. Naomi Osaka led 7-5 *6-5, before Fernandez broke, won the tiebreak and never trailed in the decider. Angelique Kerber led 6-4 4-2 before Fernandez broke to love, went on to win the second set in a tiebreak, then ran away with the decider 6-2. If that wasn’t enough, Fernandez dug herself out of consecutive 0/30 spots to start the decider against Elina Svitolina, gave up a 5-2 lead, then won the biggest match of her career in a third set tiebreak. Quite the run, isn’t it?

Today is going to be another significant step up in terms of opposition, however, as Aryna Sabalenka has looked incredibly solid since dropping the second set to Nina Stojanovic in the first round. Her last three performances in particular against Collins, Mertens and then Krejcikova, all tricky opponents, have been dominant. She is problem-solving her way out of situations at the moment where she may have struggled in the past, and now comes into this semi final in a situation that I find helpful to her – she is more experienced.

Her failings at grand slams in the past have been noticeable and an issue. However, Sabalenka has done a fantastic job of keeping herself out of scoreboard pressure for the entirety of the tournament. Where Fernandez has felt it every step of the way, Sabalenka has managed to avoid it. A strong start here should ensure that remains the case, however, nerves are likely to be a factor.

Two trains of thought here for mine at the -4.5 games and the under 20.5 games. If this match does go the distance, I do feel as though the tennis Fernandez has produced in clutch situations will hold her in good stead, however, I don’t feel this match will be as long as many this fortnight. I like Sabalenka to continue her strong early match form and take a stranglehold on this match, and I have settled on the -4.5 games to cover the likes of a lost tiebreak set or a 7-5 6-3 type result in favour or the under 20.5, which would only cover over the handicap in the instance of a dominant Fernandez win, or Sabalenka 6-4 6-4 as the primary scorelines.

Just a 1.5-unit selection, as I will look for Sabalenka to assert her dominance early.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Sabalenka -4.5 games vs Fernandez (recorded at $2.04)

Sakkari v Raducanu

Another semi-final, and another impressive fortnight from a teenager.

After being attacked by some parts of the media in the aftermath of her Wimbledon retirement to Ajla Tomljanovic, with many questioning her mental resolve and ability, Raducanu has responded in exceptional fashion.

After some impressive lead-in tennis culminating with a final appearance in the Chicago Challenger (lost in 3 sets to Clara Tauson), Raducanu made it through qualifying without dropping set, and has now won 5 consecutive matches in the main draw in straight sets. She has defeated Voegele (lucky loser entrant), Zhang, Sorribes Tormo, Rogers and Bencic, all in straight sets.

She looks to be on a roll at the moment, and from my personal perspective, it is a little trickier to get a long-term read on her game given the recent improvements. She wasn’t even in the Top 10 British players in the world a couple of months ago, and on Monday she will replace Jo Konta at the top. She clearly has an exceptionally bright future at the level; however, I do think she may be a touch under the odds today against Maria Sakkari.

Much like Sabalenka in the other semi, Sakkari will certainly benefit from the experience edge here, after coming within a point of reaching the Roland Garros final a couple of months ago (not so fond memories personally, having been on her in the outright markets). Outside of a challenge against Bianca Andreescu, where she came within a couple of points of defeat, Sakkari has looked exceptional in the conditions.

She has notched up wins against Kostyuk, Siniakova, Kvitova, Andreescu and Pliskova, for the loss of one set. It is a significantly more difficult path to the semi-final, and if she continues to serve as she did against Pliskova (lost 2 points on first serve for the match, and 8 in total), she is going to be incredibly tough to beat today.

The hybrid mix of movement and power from Sakkari is going to be a different look for Raducanu to the rest of this tournament’s opposition. An important note from Pliskova after their match today was the acknowledgment of how aggressive Sakkari was, right up until the last point. That is a great sign for Sakkari, who tightened up significantly in her most recent deep slam run in Paris. Look for Sakkari to provide a significant amount of pressure to Raducanu in comparison to her other opposition of late. With experience and longer-term form on her side, I am happy to take the $1.70+ for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Sakkari to defeat Raducanu (recorded at $1.72)

Berrettini vs Djokovic

Andy Roddick said it best the other day in regard to Novak Djokovic.

“First he takes your legs. Then he takes your soul”

He did that in front of an incredibly vocal crowd on Day 8 of the US Open, coming from a set down to dominate the last 2.5 sets of the match against a physically ailing Jenson Brooksby. Whilst he was a little rusty early in the tournament at times, he looks a little more comfortable on court now not only physically, but also assuming the role of the perceived ‘villain’ from the crowd. That doesn’t always come to be for Novak, as we saw at the start of the tournament against Rune where he was confused a touch by the behaviour of the crowd.

Djokovic also gains the advantage of this match against Matteo Berrettini being scheduled as part of the night session, where the conditions play a touch slower than the heat of the day. Novak has made himself at home in the night session slot (thanks in part to no Nadal or Federer present and finding himself in prime-time worthy matchups, albeit as a very heavy favourite.

For the question marks that have surrounded the performances of Djokovic (i.e., Dropping sets through three of the first four rounds), the same thing can be said for Berrettini. The Italian has looked far from his best since he took part in the Wimbledon final against Novak. He was patchy at best in his two lead-in matches in Cincinnati, was incredibly lucky to escape in straight sets against Jeremy Chardy in round 1, looked below his best in round 2 against Moutet (winning in 4 sets), was taken to 5 sets by Ilya Ivashka, and was in a relatively tight battle with Oscar Otte in round 4 before the German fell and injured his wrist. I wouldn’t call this the best lead-in form to face the best in the business.

Whilst Roddick made a good point the other night about Djokovic, the reply from Tennys Sandgren also reiterated an important point. He tweeted: “or if you’ve played him enough he just starts with the soul”. Why is this important? Well, this is the third time this year at a grand slam where Berrettini has faced Djokovic, and later in that Wimbledon match it looked as though Novak had an exceptional read on the serve and patterns Berrettini likes to play. Berrettini gave up double-figure break point opportunities to both Ivashka and Moutet, and I do have concerns that the slower conditions will favour Novak here moreso as well.

Just the 1.5-unit selection here, however, I am comfortable taking Djokovic 3-0 in the night session conditions.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Djokovic 3-0 set betting (recorded at $1.84)

Pliskova v Sakkari

Another player who is suited to the night session and slightly slower conditions is Maria Sakkari.

If it were almost any other player on tour, I would have more concerns over their ability to back from an exceptionally long match two days earlier, however, Sakkari barely broke into a sweat against Bianca Andreescu. I think most viewers of the match likely had a higher heart rate than her, as she came from a set down to defeat an ailing Bianca Andreescu 6-7 7-6 6-3 in 3 and a half hours.

Whilst I had concerns around her style of play that she has adopted in 2021, a more aggressive approach, may not be the most effective against Andreescu, I do feel as though it will work in her favour against Karolina Pliskova today.

Much like her lead-in form, Pliskova’s results in part look a little more comfortable on paper than they perhaps were in reality. What has made her look strong this last week? She has saved 19 of the 25 break points she has faced across the 4 rounds, a high percentage when compared to her average.

She has looked at her most vulnerable in the cooler night conditions, as we saw against Amanda Anisimova, and with Sakkari’s serve stats in the last round eclipsing those of Pliskova, this looks to be a tough ask for the Czech at her current odds.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Sakkari to defeat Pliskova (recorded at $2.16)

Svitolina v Le Fernandez

Can Leylah Fernandez back up her giant-killing spree by knocking off another big name?

Whilst I don’t think that will be the case today, she has certainly impressed me over the course of this past week. After coming into the tournament with losses to Harriet Dart and the out-of-form Alison Riske, Fernandez has flipped the script.

She knocked off Ana Konjuh in round 1, Kaia Kanepi in round 2, came from a set and 5-6* down in round 3 to defeat Naomi Osaka, and came from a set and 2-4 down to defeat Angelique Kerber in round 4. Whilst she was able to beat Kerber in the previous round, she has looked a little more settled on court when playing the bigger strikers of the ball and using their own pace against them. Will she have such an opportunity against Elina Svitolina?

It isn’t always the case that Svitolina has the relative power edge, but this looks to be the case today. I have been quite critical of Svitolina in recent years, as she had moved away from playing an aggressive style of game, instead opting to more of a ball retrieval, endurance style of game. It was a style that was originally adopted due to the likes of Wozniacki, Halep, and to a lesser extent Kerber sitting above her in the rankings.

What she didn’t factor in was the changing of the guard at the top of the game, with more players like Barty, Osaka, and Andreescu adding strings to their bow and taking the WTA to a different space. It has taken a little while for Svitolina to adopt a more aggressive mindset, but she looks to be turning the corner, no longer always waiting for the game to come to her. I think she is the right mix of movement, consistency, and experience to cause trouble here to Fernandez. Confidence is a funny thing in this game, and Svitolina looks confident on her 9-match win streak coming into this match.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Svitolina -3.5 games vs Fernandez (recorded at $1.80)

F Auger-Aliassime v Carlos Alcaraz

This has the makings of a very exciting match, although I do wish for the sake of the contest overall that Carlos Alcaraz wasn’t coming into it off consecutive 5 set matches.

In a quarter that boasted Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev at the beginning of the fortnight, ended with Felix Auger Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe, Peter Gojowczyk, and Carlos Alcaraz. After two great battles in the 4th round, we are left with FAA and Alcaraz, both looking to progress further than they have at any stage in their careers to date. After a patchy start in round 1 against Evgeny Donskoy in a match that involved the Canadian winning 3 tiebreaks across 4 sets, FAA has played some incredibly solid tennis across wins against Zapata Miralles, Bautista Agut, and Tiafoe.

There have been a couple of ‘coming of age’ moments across the first four rounds, that has shown his ability to take his game to the next level. In previous grand slams, Felix would have likely lost in round 1 to Donskoy from a precarious position. Fast forward to round 3 and he showed exceptional resilience to respond in the fifth set after dropping the 3rd and 4th sets, and after struggling to convert many break points before falling down a set to Tiafoe, a previous iteration of Felix would have dropped his shoulders.

Instead, he responded with a strong second set, and served exceptionally well in the crucial third set tiebreak, before breaking early in the 4th on his way to victory. 3 of his 4 wins have now generated a 1st serve points won percentage north of 80% and has allowed him some cheap points at crucial points.

I get the impression that having a big first serve may be somewhat of a difference-maker in this match. Alcaraz found himself on the ropes again in the 4th round trailing two sets to one, before Gojowczyk ran out of legs and finished the match with a -54 winners to unforced errors differential. Alcaraz was solid without being exceptional in my opinion, as shown by his 35 winners to 45 unforced errors, and a first-serve points won percentage of 60% for a match for which Gojowczyk was incapacitated for much of the last set and a half. Does being broken 7 times by the German correlate to solid form against a player that has been broken 5 times across his last 12 sets, whilst generating 40 break point opportunities himself?

For me, the serve is key and favours Auger-Aliassime. There are likely to be nerves on both sides of the net here, so I will be capping my selection at 1.5 units on the Canadian at the game handicap.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Auger-Aliassime -3.5 games (recorded at $1.88)

Andreescu v Sakkari

Have the injury concerns from the early rounds opened a touch of value here on Bianca Andreescu?

I think they have. This is going to be a fascinating match to observe during the night session on Arthur Ashe on day 8. Andreescu has put together her best week of the year in familiar conditions, beating Viktorija Golubic, Lauren Davis and Greetje Minnen.

With each passing match, the comfort level on court for Andreescu has improved, with the Canadian winning upwards of 75% of points behind both her first and second serve. Unfortunately for me, I made the decision to back her a couple of weeks ago in the outright market before her injury issues flared.

Nevertheless, she still looks to have improved thanks to the day off between matches to this stage of the tournament. This is the toughest opposition she has faced to date, and for mine, she looks a touch over the odds I anticipated for the Canadian here.

If Sakkari was playing a less aggressive, ball retrieving style of play like years gone by, I would have her slightly shorter than I currently do in the market. Alas, she has upped her game to hold her own a little more in rallies, however, did she win the match more than Kvitova lost it? Petra finished the match with 16 winners and 34 unforced errors for the match. With the pressure building as she is back in the 4th round, and with a crowd that is very likely to be against her, I feel her moneyline price here is a touch too short.

Whilst I also feel Andreescu 2-1 set betting is value, I am comfortable taking the Canadian here at the moneyline for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Andreescu to defeat Sakkari (recorded at $2.30)

Djokovic v Brooksby

Coming off a 5 setter to then face Novak Djokovic isn’t my idea of fun. Good luck to Jenson Brooksby.

I will keep this one short, as I don’t see the night session helping Brooksby in any way today. Unless the crowd can get under the skin of Novak enough for him to meltdown completely, I am struggling to see him too worried by the variety that will come from the other end of the court in Brooksby.

Whilst he does have a lot of variety, he lacks the big serve that is able to generate cheap points, a crucial element to finding a way into a match with Djokovic in my opinion in his current form. Rune was able to snatch a set against Novak, however Djokovic was still finding his way in his first match on tour since the Olympics.

Novak looked a lot more comfortable in his second-round match with Griekspoor, and Nishikori was able to redline for a patch to keep the game competitive early. Brooksby has dropped serve 17 times in total against Ymer, Fritz and Karatsev.

With a significant step up in opposition return capability, and the courts playing a little slower in the evening, I am looking for a dominant performance from Djokovic to suck the life out of the home crowd early. I am happy to move up to -9.5 games at plus money for a unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Djokovic -9.5 games vs Brooksby (recorded at $2.26)

Zverev v Sinner

Jack Sock put himself into a solid position in round 3 against Alexander Zverev before injuring himself after trading from $16 into $3.85. Will Jannik Sinner be able to put the German under pressure today?

Jannik Sinner found himself in one of the stranger third round matches that I can recall, enjoying the full Gael Monfils experience. The match had it all, but fortunately for Sinner it ended up with the Italian claiming the win 7-6 6-2 4-6 4-6 6-4.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Sinner across the first three rounds, however his body of form across the North American hardcourt season is solid, and if I felt that the heavy forehand of Sock was going to cause Zverev some trouble, then Sinner is likely to be able to do similar.

Whilst the questions around Zverev and his tennis are slowly being answered by the German over the last 18 months, there are still some question marks around his ability to maintain a consistent level across the best of 5 set format against quality players with strings to their bow.

Whilst the wins over Querrey and Ramos look impressive, I think it has led to a general overrating of Zverev in the conditions. Querrey is too one-dimensional to be a threat at his age, and Ramos didn’t have any weapons to be a threat. Sock showed the blueprint in set 1, and in the daytime conditions, it will be interesting to see if the Sinner forehand can pressure the Zverev forehand consistently enough to be a threat.

For mine, I am going to side with the overs here. I don’t see Sinner winning in under the game total, however, I do find his moneyline price to be slight value. I will take the total over 34.5 games for 1.25 units and place half a unit on Sinner to win.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.25 units total games over 34.5 (recorded at $1.94)

BACK — 0.5 units Sinner to defeat Zverev (recorded at $5.50)

Gojowczyk vs Alcaraz

Whilst it wasn’t the fourth round match I think anyone was predicting, there still looks to be a little bit of value at the game handicap today.

First off – what a win that was from Carlos Alcaraz. After very impressive wins in round 1 and 2 over Norrie and Rinderknech, Alcaraz announced himself to a lot of people who perhaps don’t watch the tennis tour year-round. For those who do watch year-round, the rise of Alcaraz has been steady, which is incredibly commendable given not only his age, but the weight of expectation that has been placed on his shoulders from a very young age. He shellshocked Stefanos Tsitsipas early, then lost momentum and the second set, clawed his way back from a large deficit to take the third, got bagelled in the 4th, and produced some brilliant tennis to claim the fifth set in a tiebreak. The match had it all, including a lot of support for the Spaniard from the American crowd. He looked to be on his last legs and was certainly a beneficiary of the final set tiebreak format at the US Open. Whilst he enjoyed the match and was brilliant for over 4 hours, someone else who enjoyed the match was Peter Gojowczyk.

The German qualifier has put together one of his more impressive weeks of his career this week, on a par with his Metz title in 2017. Gojowczyk is a better player than his ranking currently suggests, having previously found himself inside the Top 40 of the ATP rankings. After defeating Rosol, Haase and Cerundolo in qualifying, the German was able to overcome Humbert and Lajovic in consecutive 5-setters, before coming from a set down to defeat Laaksonen in round 3. His matches, although long on paper, aren’t always full of long rallies, meaning his accumulative fatigue of the week isn’t quite as bad as it perhaps looks on paper.

This is uncharted territory for Alcaraz, as we don’t know how he will back up from a 5-set match. You could forgive a slight letdown and drop in level from the 18-year-old today. For mine, he looks to be a little short today against Gojowczyk, who will test Alcaraz and his movement coming off a long match on Day 5. I am happy to take Gojowczyk at the +6.5-game handicap for 1 unit, and a 0.5-unit selection on the German at the moneyline.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Gojowczyk +6.5 games vs Alcaraz (recorded at $1.89)

BACK — 0.5 units Gojowczyk to defeat Alcaraz (recorded at $4.40)

Krejcikova vs Muguruza

One of the matches of the day is set to take place between Barbora Krejcikova and Garbine Muguruza for a place in the quarter finals. It will take place in the night session on Arthur Ashe, and deservedly so.

Krejcikova has been arguably the story of the 2021 tennis season. From a world number 1 doubles player slowly forging her singles career, to winning the Roland Garros title and being one of the form players on tour for the year in both singles and doubles, it has been an incredibly impressive 9 months from the Czech. I remarked in the outright preview and mentioned that part of the appeal in supporting Krejcikova in the outright markets is her ability to hold a level that is close to her best for extended periods of matches. Whilst she may not have the highest ceiling in the WTA, her consistency brings her into the picture across all surfaces. She has looked dominant through the first three rounds; however, this is a significant step up in opposition quality at the other end of the court.

Muguruza has looked a lot better through the early rounds of this tournament than I have seen from her over the last couple of months in particular. After the majority of her clay season was interrupted by niggling and persistent injuries, she has been able to respond here with wins over Vekic, Petkovic and Azarenka on her way to the 4th round. Whilst she did have a small lapse in the second set against Azarenka, outside of saving a couple of breakpoints early in the decider, Muguruza was never in a position of facing significant scoreboard against Azarenka, an important piece of the puzzle in matching up against her.

Muguruza has the higher ceiling of these two, however lacks the consistency of Krejcikova. I anticipate this to be a closely fought match-up, with the over 21.5 games appealing. I think the night conditions favour Krejcikova a touch, but my preference lies with the total here. Another option may be to take Krejcikova 2-1 in the set betting markets.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Muguruza/Krejcikova total games over 21.5 (recorded at $1.90)

Svitolina vs Halep

Whilst the bulk of the money since this market opened has steadily come for Simona Halep, the odds are now at a point where I am comfortable in making a play on Elina Svitolina.

The key to the success of Halep over many years has been here ability to find consistent, injury-free time on court for large parts of the tennis season. That component of her game has been severely hampered this year, with a steady mix of both upper and lower limb injuries wreaking havoc on her season, causing her to fall outside the Top 10. After a gruelling win against Magda Linette a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati, Halep had to pull out of her 2md round match with Jessica Pegula with another injury. Halep has only been able to play 13 tour-level matches since the start of March is a genuine concern, especially given the struggles she had at times on serve against Elena Rybakina in the previous round. Is there enough form through her five matches back post-injury to justify this price against Svitolina?

Svitolina has looked solid without being exceptional over the last couple of months. After the disappointment of her loss to Marketa Vondrousova in a disappointing performance in the semi-final at the Olympics, the Ukrainian responded well, overcoming a deficit in the 3rd place playoff to eventually claim bronze. From there she has looked quite solid and comes into this match with an 8-match winning streak overall (although I don’t carry much weight for her wins last week). She is a confidence player, and the fact this match-up is coming in the first week of the grand slam helps Svitolina more than hinders her in my opinion (given her struggles the deeper she goes at a grand slam).

This match being scheduled in the day session also assists Svitolina for mine. I am happy to take the current price on her for 1 unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit Svitolina to defeat Halep (recorded at $1.98)

Ka Pliskova v Tomljanovic

The improvement in the game of Ajla Tomljanovic this year has been impressive to view from afar. For mine, I think there is a little value here in taking the Australian at the +4.5-game handicap.

Whilst I did get involved with Tomljanovic in the previous round against a player with a different style in Petra Martic, my preference lies with taking her against players who are able to generate a lot of pace on the ball. Tomljanovic falls into the mould of a player that can give Pliskova quite a bit of trouble: she is able to attack and hit with above-average power off both wings, but at the same time has above average court coverage and counterpunching skills.

Added to this in recent times however has been a newfound belief in her overall game, and it has shown over the last couple of months. She now feels as though she belongs at the top level and can match it with some of the best names of tour. Today will be a test, however, at the handicap available it looks to be value.

Karolina Pliskova managed to pull off the great escape in round 2, coming from 2-5* down in the final set tiebreak to defeat Amanda Anisimova. Whilst she does have a very impressive win/loss record for the North American hardcourt swing, I did note in the outright preview that her results look a little better on paper than perhaps the performances on court would suggest, and I am happy to stand by that statement here.

I think the head-to-head has been considered too strongly here by some, with Pliskova dominating it over the years. With Tomljanovic having made significant ground in terms of her level and consistency, this will be closer than the handicap suggests.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Tomljanovic +4.5 games (recorded at $1.92)

Karatsev v Brooksby

This is going to be one of the more fascinating matches of the day across both the men’s and women’s draws in Flushing Meadows.

Jenson Brooksby has gone from a player dominating at Challenger level, to being worthy of ATP level wildcards without receiving them, to receiving them, to being in the Top 100, all in a matter of less than a year. He holds a 39-9 record on the year to date, with three Challenger titles, and an ATP level semi-final appearance in Washington a couple of weeks ago.

Of his 39 wins this year, only 6 of them have come against Top 100 players (Anderson, Ymer, Thompson, Tiafoe, Millman, and Auger-Aliassime). His first-round win over Ymer became far more complicated than it needed to be, as did some aspects of his round 2 win over Taylor Fritz. How will he fare here against Russian Aslan Karatsev?

Karatsev has been one of the trickier players to handicap, largely due to his fluctuating level across the course of the last 12-16 months. What has been evident, albeit over a relatively small sample size, has been his ability to find his best level when the occasion calls for it most (i.e., Australian Open, Doha final).

Whilst he hasn’t been able to find his best tennis so far in Flushing Meadows, he did a fantastic job of trying to work through his struggles and adversity in round 2 against Jordan Thompson. The match was quite reminiscent of his win over Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open from a similar deficit, which helped catapult him on his way to the AO semi-final. For mine, he has answered more questions at the grand slam level regarding being favourite in this match-up than Brooksby…for now.

Not a large play, however with Karatsev having a significant power battle edge, and experience edge, I am looking for him to dictate here for long periods, and progress to the 4th round.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Karatsev to defeat Brooksby (recorded at $2.04)

A Zverev v Sock

Given the rollercoaster of the first couple of rounds of the US Open, it seems only appropriate to round out Day 6 with a long odds selection.

As good as Alexander Zverev has been at times over the course of the last couple of months, I don’t think he warrants being a price as short as this around an erratic, flashy player with the ability to produce a high level for long periods of a match. He was completely and utterly dominant in the second round in a straightforward victory over Albert Ramos 6-1 6-0 6-3 in 75 minutes. Ramos has next to no weapons of note to trouble Zverev in these conditions, however the same cannot be said for Sock.

Whilst I have no interest in reading anything into the head-to-head, it does show that when near his best, Sock can challenge the style of Zverev. Whilst Zverev has made some improvements of late when it comes to his forehand wing, there is still the possibility for Sock to target this in a couple of ways. The first is the heavy topspin forehand to forehand rallies, and the second is not allowing Zverev to get into backhand-to-backhand rallies, with Sock likely to run around onto his forehand and be aggressive where possible.

Sock is also a crowd favourite, so it will be interesting to see what reception they give Zverev here on Arthur Ashe in the night session. If night 5 was any indication, Sock should get a lot of support.

I would have Sock closer to $7.50 in this one, so there is certainly some value in his current money line price.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Sock to defeat Zverev (recorded at $15)

It will be a fascinating day 5 at the US Open Day 1, with the WTA futures market likely to make some big changes in the next 24 hours. There are several near 50/50 matchups on offer, and it is pleasing to see that Barbora Krejcikova, one of the outright selections, is not in one of those matches.

Keep an ear on the radio this evening, as I join the team from the Betfair Edge Show on SEN to chat outrights as well.

Outright Selection Addition

I have made the decision to add a 0.7-unit selection to Daniil Medvedev in the outright market. The main reason for this is more to do with the projected path of Medvedev to the final compared to the likes of Zverev, Tsitsipas, and Rublev.

I am struggling to see a significant threat to Medvedev until at least the semi-final. Whilst I still think Novak is likely too good over the best of 5 sets format in these conditions (and maybe some carryover doubt from Medvedev from the Australian Open), I would like to be in a position come the final of the tournament where I am in a green position, or a very limited red position, regarding either Medvedev or Djokovic.

I will also add a small play to Denis Shapovalov in the outright market for 0.2 units. He has impressed me in the early rounds and looks to be in good shape to challenge Zverev and Sinner in terms of the second quarter. It would be ideal to have three of the 4 semi finalists to be Djokovic, Medvedev and Shapovalov.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 0.7 units Medvedev to win the tournament (recorded at $5.50)

BACK — 0.2 units Shapovalov to win the tournament (recorded at $70)

Van de Zandschulp v Bagnis

I am not sure many would have had this match-up on their projected third rounds at the start of the tournament. The joys of early upsets.

Of all the players to take advantage of the eighth that involved Casper Ruud as the top seed, it has ended up being qualifier Botic Van De Zandschulp. The world number 117 qualifier was able to back up off a 5 set first round win (from 2 sets to 0 down) by defeating Casper Ruud from a set down as a large underdog, 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 in just over 3 hours. It is only a matter of time until Van De Zandschulp finds his way into the top 100, and his ability to back up and deliver consistent performance at the level has assisted him in his rise this year.

Whilst the come from behind wins from Botic have impressed, I am still not sold on the overall form of Facundo Bagnis. Marco Trungelliti’s win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in round 1 was another result that opened this section of the draw.

On the surface though, I am not holding much weight in Bagnis’ wins over Taro Daniel and Trungelliti, as it turns out to have been one of the easier paths to the 3rd round. Whilst Bagnis has looked in control of both these matches, I do have him as a player that can find himself in trouble on the hardcourts against players with a game far bigger than his own.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Van De Zandschulp -4.5 games vs Bagnis (recorded at $1.98)

Molcan v Schwartzman

More than happy to take a position here in opposing a player coming off a 5-set match, the first he has won of his career, who is then backing up to play against one of the fittest players on tour.

Whilst the win over Brandon Nakashima from 2 sets to 1 was impressive from Alex Molcan, I am not sold on his ability to back up here strongly against Diego Schwartzman. Molcan was able to redline for periods of the 4th and fifth set, however, I have some concerns about his ability to earn cheap points and hold serve regularly in this outing.

Molcan was only able to win 65% of points behind his first serve against Nakashima, who I class as a solid but not exceptional return of serve in the conditions. For perspective across the course of the 5 sets against Nakashima, the average first serve and second serve speeds for Molcan were quite similar to those of Diego Schwartzman, who faced Kevin Anderson in a rain delayed match played across two different indoor courts.

Schwartzman did a fantastic job of hitting his spots on serve against Anderson, who looked fairly lost at sea across the match on return of serve. After what I would categorise as a poor season overall, it has been good to see Diego find some form over the North American hardcourt swing. I don’t think Molcan is powerful enough to be a major threat to Schwartzman, and the -6.5-game handicap does appeal in this one. Whilst Schwartzman has certainly improved his form of late, it is worth acknowledging he is still prone to some lapses, which can become costly when taking a large handicap. As a result, I will limit this selection to 2 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Schwartzman -6.5 games vs Molcan (recorded at $1.86)

Collins v Sabalenka

With Danielle Collins showing she has been fit and capable of delivering tennis at a similar level to the start of this hardcourt season, I am more than comfortable jumping into her +3.5-game handicap here against Aryna Sabalenka.

Whilst I did have some concerns around Collins and her fitness coming off a retirement in Cincinnati, she looked far more settled on court against Kaja Juvan (much to my disappointment at the time having backed Juvan at long odds. Collins won the match off another impressive winners to unforced errors ratio given her aggressive style and hasn’t been afraid to come to the net and finish off her good work if the opportunity arises. I personally prefer to back her in matches where there is a lot of pace on the ball, as we will certainly see here against Sabalenka.

Sabalenka continued her approach of being too big and powerful for most unseeded players, with another straightforward win over Tamara Zidansek in round 2. Truth be told, there wasn’t really a lot that Zidansek was able to do in terms of pressuring Sabalenka, outside of retrieving and hoping to see unforced errors. She did show signs of vulnerability in round 1, needing three sets to progress past Nina Stojanovic.

The experience edge to Danielle Collins in terms of grand slams, as well as her general on court demeanor and likely crowd support all lend themselves to backing in the American here. Whilst I won’t take the moneyline, I am happy to jump in and make a play at the +3.5-game handicap here for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Collins +3.5 games vs Sabalenka (recorded at $2)

Rublev v Tiafoe

I had my eye on this match-up as soon as I saw the draw, and it is this match-up that has me skeptical regarding the current outright price on Andrey Rublev.

I think this is a better match-up for American Frances Tiafoe than those setting the odds currently think, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it has been refreshing to see the level of tennis that Tiafoe has been able to produce in North America with crowds back in attendance. Tiafoe has appeared at times to struggle in the last 12 months when tournaments have been run without fans, and you only need to look at his interactions with them to see how comfortable he looks with the stands full again.

The sweet spot of an American crowd on Arthur Ashe in the night session, as well as the American being an underdog, is a great little situational spot to consider. Whilst she couldn’t get over the line on Day 4, it is worth noting just how engaged the home crowd was in the match between Amanda Anisimova and Karolina Pliskova. The engaged crowd favours Tiafoe.

I also think this match-up suits the American. My major concerns around Tiafoe and his level are at their greatest when he is in matchups against players who have covered the court exceptionally well, however, lack the power in their games. The need for Tiafoe to generate all the power and pace in rallies can cause him to overhit at times, so to see Rublev across the net shouldn’t be the worst sight.

His recent losses on hardcourt (to Schwartzman and Ymer) back up this statement. Instead, he will be receiving pace from the other end of the court, is athletic enough to be defensive when needed, and has the style of game that can be incredibly frustrating for a player like Rublev, who can have a short fuse at times. He has also proven often his ability to go the distance over the longer format, so I have no fitness concerns.

When you cast an eye over the recent form of Rublev, I don’t view it to be overly dominant. Yes, there is the win over Medvedev (who went off the boil after running into the camera), however, I don’t see three-set wins over Paire and Cilic, two tiebreaks over Monfils, straight-set losses to Isner and Zverev and wins here against Karlovic and Martinez as groundbreaking form to justify the price here.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2.5 units Tiafoe to win (recorded at $3.70)

Kerber v Kalinina

Coming off a match with one of the trickier unseeded players in the draw, Angelique Kerber should enjoy this round 2 match-up a little more than she did Dayana Yastremska on day 1.

When you look through the bulk of the form around Anhelina Kalinina, it becomes clear that the main reason she is currently at her peak ranking is largely to do with the tennis she has produced on the clay this year. Whilst she is 32-7 on the clay over the last 12 months, her record on the hardcourts at the same time is 6-5, with only one win coming against a player in the Top 100. Of the losses, all have involved dropping a set 6-2 or worse, and highlighting this second-round match at the US Open involves her trying to break new ground by reaching the third round of a grand slam.

It is going to be incredibly tough though, with battle-hardened Kerber across the net. Kerber overcame dropping the first set to Yastremska, Yastremska serving for the match, and some Tsitsipas-like bathroom break tactics to come through with the three-set victory. With wins over Sakkari, Svitolina, Ostapenko, Kvitova, and Yastremska since returning to the hardcourts, and only a loss to Ash Barty, she looks to have regained a level far closer to what is expected from one of the better WTA players of the last decade.

Consistent pressure is the key here, with Kerber the best player she has faced on hardcourt since the US Open last year, where she started well before fading to lose 4-6 0-6 to Karolina Pliskova. I like the -5.5-game handicap here for Kerber at plus money, and I will be taking that for 2 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 2 units Kerber -5.5 games vs Kalinina (recorded at $2.04)

Kudla v Otte

Oscar Otte was one of the players able to knock off a seed in the first round of the US Open. Can Denis Kudla now take advantage of Lorenzo Sonego’s absence?

The impressive round 1 performance from a handful of American players has allowed a couple of them to genuinely fly under the radar. One such player is Kudla, who is quietly putting together a very decent patch of form across the North American hardcourt season. On glancing back across the entirety of the North American hardcourt swing, one that includes wins over Kokkinakis, Lopez, Fritz, Nakashima, Purcell, and Djere, with losses more recently to names such as Ruusuvuori, McDonald, Escobedo, and Brooksby.

He came into the hardcourt swing off the back of some impressive tennis on the grass, and it has translated well as he looks to cement his spot within the top 100. It was an impressive performance in round 1 over Djere, coming from a set down in warm conditions to win 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6, with the American not dropping serve through the final three sets. With the local crowd at his back, I am anticipating his form of this swing to continue.

Oscar Otte is continuing to produce some up and down tennis, and it happened to be an ‘up’ on day 2. In just over four hours, Otte was able to get over the line 6-7 7-5 7-6 7-6 over Sonego, in a match that involved 11 breaks of serve and Otte converting 6 of his 8 opportunities. It was a match that had a bit of everything for Otte, and his four matches in Flushing Meadows have all shown you can get multiple Otte’s during a match. When he isn’t putting a high percentage of first serves into play consistently, his second serve points won is going to be more of an issue for him today than it has been against his other opponents this past week.

Whilst you can get some -3.5 games or -4 games around, I do like the -4.5 games here at plus money on the American. If he delivers a level that is consistent with most of this hardcourt swing, I see him covering the games handicap here.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Kudla -4.5 games vs Otte (recorded at $2.08)

Sock v Bublik

I get a little wary of Alexander Bublik, especially when he finds himself in a position where he is giving up a significant number of games across the longer format of the game.

I do feel that giving up the 4.5 games here looks to be a little steep in what looks to be slightly faster conditions in New York this year. Bublik did look solid in the first round of the tournament, defeating Yannick Hanfmann 6-0 4-6 6-2 6-2.

He did a fantastic job on break point saves, winning 11/13 points when down break point. It was a welcome change from his lead-in form, with Bublik largely struggling in some of his matches since Wimbledon, with straight set losses to Ruusuvuori and Dimitrov in recent weeks. The ceiling is high for Bublik, however, his ability to produce a level closer to his basement than the ceiling at times is where things get a little concerning for me.

It is great to see Jack Sock stringing together some solid tennis of late, as he looks to make his way back toward the Top 100 in singles. He feeds off the crowd and has been able to slowly build his form since his return, outside of his retirement in Cincinnati.

His first-round win over Nishioka is the best he has looked on court in some time, and with a little more trust in his physical level (given the long layoff but also the retirement the other week) I am happy to jump into the plus game handicap here. Sock was aggressive in round 1 with 61 winners and 37 unforced errors, and that aggressive approach, especially on the Bublik second serve (averaged 13km/h slower than Sock’s in round 1), is a key aspect of this match-up in my opinion.

Whilst the main play is on Sock at the +4.5-game handicap, I will also make a smaller play on the money line as well. Look for Sock to keep this close in front of the home crowd, and in my opinion, he is capable of snatching victory too.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Sock +4.5 games (recorded at $1.82)

BACK — 0.75 units Sock to win (recorded at $2.80)

L Harris v Escobedo

This is a continuation of the play on Ernesto Escobedo in round 1 over Pablo Cuevas.

I have been on board with the thoughts that Lloyd Harris has been a touch overrated by those framing markets over the course of 2021, and this looks to be another example today. Whilst he did defeat Karen Khachanov in the first round, much of his winning tennis came after the Russian took a fall and required a medical timeout. His ceiling is certainly rising, but he hasn’t quite been able to find a level near his best consistently, with the South African at times struggling to back up his best wins with another solid performance the next round (i.e., Defeating Nadal in Washington, then lost in straight sets to Nishikori).

Escobedo looked solid in his lead in Challenger and ATP level tournaments, and he took it to another level in that round 1 win against Pablo Cuevas. The American won 81% of points behind his first serve and produced only 8 unforced errors across his 6-1 6-3 6-1 victory in 89 minutes. Whilst it is hard to come across unforced error numbers for Challenger tournaments and lower ATP level tournaments, his ability to limit his unforced errors is worth noting and will be important against a player with a bigger serve today in Harris.

Harris had the quirk of winning in 5 sets, whilst losing more points across the entirety of the match. 5.5 games looks to be a generous handicap for Escobedo in the conditions this week, as does the money line price north of $4. I will split my staking across both, with a heavier focus on the +5.5 games.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Escobedo +5.5 games vs Harris (recorded at $1.88)

BACK — 0.5 units Escobedo to defeat Harris (recorded at $4.20)

Tomljanovic v Martic

I will keep this preview a little shorter than those above. Looking over the extended form of both players, I have Ajla Tomljanovic showing up as slight value in this match-up today.

If you see anyone tipping up Petra Martic here and the reasoning includes Martic’s 2-0 head-to-head advantage, dig a little deeper. Yes, these two have played in the past…in 2010 and 2011. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last 10 years, and these two are entirely different players. For mine, however, the form across the majority of the 2021 season favours Tomljanovic in my opinion. I was a little concerned regarding the fitness of the Australian given her retirement in Montreal 3 weeks ago, but she crushed any concerns with an impressive round 1 win over Katie Volynets 6-3 6-1.

Martic also looked solid in the first round, however, when you consider her best hardcourt performance this year came in that tournament played in Melbourne during the second week of the Australian Open (made the quarter final), and you take a step back and look at the form overall, I have some concerns. She got the job done 6-3 6-2 in round one over Dalma Galfi, however, 42 of the 72 points that she won came from unforced errors from Galfi.

I have enough concerns around Martic here to make a 1-unit selection on Tomljanovic to progress to the third round.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Tomljanovic to win (recorded at $1.79)

A quick note for today – there is rain forecast for New York that is likely to impact parts of play. If you are considering opposing players coming off long, gruelling matches, it may be worth holding off until closer to play.

Nakashima v Molcan

Brandon Nakashima overcame his big-serving compatriot in John Isner in round 1. I am looking for him to enjoy a slightly more conventional tennis match today with Alex Molcan on the other side of the court.

Outside of a small lapse in the first set when he was already up a break of serve, it was an incredibly consistent and measured performance in round 1 from Nakashima. He didn’t face a break point the rest of the way, stuck to his game plan of being aggressive on return without being excessive, and finished the match with 38 winners and 16 unforced errors in a 7-6 7-6 6-3 victory. He should be able to take confidence from that performance, flipping the script on Isner from their final in Atlanta a month ago.

Alex Molcan is another player who has been able to make the most of a productive clay season and carry that confidence into the US Open qualifying last week. He was able to notch up wins against Coppejans, Kolar, and Elias (8-6 in the final set tiebreak), before defeating fellow qualifier Cem Ilkel in the first round in 4 sets.

Much like Kalinina in the preview above, this will be the biggest challenge he has faced on hardcourt in his career in terms of ranking (faced Struff in a 2016 Challenger event) and situation. When you marry up the stats from his hardcourt efforts, he just doesn’t have the experience or past results against big servers, or general hardcourt players, to trust here at the +5.5-game handicap.

With confidence at a high coming off day 1 and the crowd at his back, I am looking for another strong, consistent performance from Nakashima, and will place 1.5 units on the -5.5-game handicap.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Nakashima -5.5 games (recorded at $1.94)

Carlos Alcaraz v Rinderknech

Whilst I mentioned at the start of these previews that I am going to hold fire for now on some positions that oppose players coming off a 5-set match due to the threat of rain on Day 3, I do feel as though there is more than enough value in this price to jump in regardless of the scheduling of this match.

I thought the fatigue of last week may in fact catch up with Carlos Alcaraz on Day 1. It wasn’t so much to do with the quick back-up itself, but a combination of the quick back up and a meeting with the very capable Cameron Norrie looked a tough ask. He responded with a dominant straight set demolition of the Brit 6-4 6-4 6-3 in just under 2 hours.

He looks to have gained a lot of confidence over the past year regarding his movement on the hardcourt and looked strong behind his first serve as well as his return of the Norrie second serve, winning 25/39 points. He is keeping his unforced errors under control, with 13 across the three sets in round 1 to complement his 38 winners. Part of the appeal in Alcaraz here is not only his movement on court, but his ability to make his opponent play an extra shot or a difficult volley, which becomes important when Arthur Rinderknech.

Rinderknech pulled off an incredibly impressive comeback in round 1, coming from 2 sets down to defeat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 in almost 4 and a half hours. Rinderknech is a player that can force the pressure on opponents, as shown by his ability to get to the net 81 times across the course of the match. Whilst that was a largely effective strategy against Kecmanovic, I don’t see Alcaraz being as threatened by the attacking style of Rinderknech.

The consistency in the level of Alcaraz, which has impressed me for his age, is going to be key in this one. I will keep the staking low as the Spanish teenager is aiming to head to the third round of a grand slam for the first time, but I do like the -5.5 games here for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Alcaraz -5.5 games (recorded at $1.88)

Collins v Juvan

I will keep this one short; however, I don’t feel we got a true reflection of the fitness levels of Danielle Collins in round 1 against Carla Suarez Navarro.

When your opponent is only able to produce 5 winners and 11 unforced errors across the course of the match, the maths suggests you have been able to dictate the majority of said match. That was the case for Collins on Monday as she won through 6-2 6-4 in 68 minutes.

It was her first outing since her impressive run through Palermo, San Jose, and Montreal was ended by Jessica Pegula, then followed up with a retirement down a set to Shelby Rogers in Cincinnati. Given the volume of tennis and the fitness concerns, I do feel a more aggressive opponent will be capable of challenging Collins in these conditions.

I think Kaja Juvan has the game the be that challenge. She looked solid in her round 1 win over Heather Watson and is a player I don’t mind supporting at such prices when she finds herself in a power battle. Just the 1 unit here, however, I think Juvan has all the tools to threaten Collins with some question marks for mine.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Juvan to defeat Collins (recorded at $5.80)

Outright Update

As per the plan in the outright preview, I will add a 0.4 unit stake on Naomi Osaka at $6.60 in the outright market. Looking at the field, she should be relatively comfortable in the draw until reaching Angelique Kerber in the 4th round in my opinion. Happy to jump in there to reduce the liability if she were to continue to build, and I may add further to this later.

Ka Pliskova v C Mcnally

This play should come as no surprise to anyone who read the pre-tournament edition of the outright preview. I have Karolina Pliskova as one of the big names on upset alert.

Whilst it is a little dramatic to consider it a major upset alert, I do feel Pliskova is incredibly short in terms of her odds. The current market has her slated as a $1.10 chance, implying a 91% chance of victory over Caty McNally. Whilst McNally hasn’t exactly set the world on fire lately with her game, a return to Flushing Meadows, where she has put together some solid performances by beating Alexandrova and Kuzmova last year and going a set up on Serena Williams on Arthur Ashe in 2019.

She has displayed her best tennis in these conditions against heavy ball strikers, as we saw against Alexandrova last year. At 20 years of age there are going to be elements of inconsistency in her game, however with the bonus of the crowd and warm weather in Flushing Meadows, I am happy to risk the inconsistency with her price north of $7.

The Pliskova scores of the last couple of weeks look a little more comfortable on paper than the tennis suggested. She is finding herself going through phases within her matches, and whilst she was able to get away with it against Jessica Pegula and Paula Badosa in Cincinnati, the up-and-down patches of tennis she is producing is not the type of form I am looking for in a player priced around the $1.10 mark. Happy to oppose her for a small stake.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1 unit McNally to defeat Pliskova (recorded at $7.80)

P Cuevas v Escobedo

If Pablo Cuevas isn’t going to take the lead-up hardcourt tournaments seriously, it makes it very hard to take his game handicap too seriously here against Ernesto Escobedo.

Cuevas went winless in his two tournaments on grass in late June, and after defeating Yevseyev and Petrovic in the Salzburg clay Challenger, has strung together four consecutive Challenger losses on the clay. Cuevas was last seen on hardcourt at the Australian Open, and his ranking continues to drop, now sitting outside the Top 100. His lack of consistency and engagement in his tennis at times has been concerning, and against a young American with the crowd at his back in warm conditions should be an interesting task for him.

Escobedo was able to put together two solid weeks of tennis on the hardcourts as part of his preparation for the US Open. He made his way through qualifying in Los Cabos, going on to defeat Kudla and McDonald before losing to eventual champion Cam Norrie, then backed up in Lexington where he again lost to the eventual title winner in Jason Kubler.

The last 6 weeks of tennis has been set with the US Open in mind, and I am looking for him to continue his solid form here by covering the game handicap. It would take a much-improved performance from Cuevas to cover the +3.5-game handicap. As crowds have returned there is the potential for a rejuvenated Cuevas, so I will keep this staking to 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Escobedo -3.5 games vs Cuevas (recorded at $2)

Johnson v Marterer

This match-up is one of the more fascinating of those on day 2 not involving the big names, with leftie Max Marterer coming up against American Steve Johnson.

It was two qualifiers on day 1 that got the better of me in Quentin Halys and Marco Trungelliti, with my focus solely on the price of Marterer. The German looked very solid in qualifying, with wins over Collarini, Bergs, and Janvier. Whilst the score lines suggested some close matches, Marterer earned 26 break point opportunities across the three matches, converting 7, whilst giving up only 5 opportunities, saving 3.

It is worth noting that Marterer was a Top 50 ranked player in 2018 prior to injury, dropping all the way down to 379 on his return. He made the QF of the ATP level tournament in Kitzbuhel last year, and won the Bratislava Challenger last September, defeating Tomas Machac in the final. Whilst he hasn’t played a great deal on the hardcourts this year, he should be suited by the conditions a little later in the day here in Flushing Meadows.

I just haven’t been convinced enough by the recent level of Steve Johnson. His wins have come against players that have been out of form, as have some of his losses. Whilst his backhand slice can be an effective tool in neutralizing rallies against right-handers, I don’t feel as though the left-handed Marterer is the best match-up for him in his current form. Johnson has shown of late to be lacking the consistency of recent years and given the way Marterer served and handled the conditions in qualifying, this looks to be a nice price to back the German for a unit.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Marterer to defeat Johnson (recorded at $2.76)

Doi v Sanders

I will keep this one short, as I am not sure there are any aspects to the game of Misaki Doi, outside of overall experience, that is in her favour in this meeting with Australian Storm Sanders.

2021 has not been kind to Doi, who is on the verge of falling outside the Top 100. She holds a 15-23 record for the year and comes into this match with average form through Tokyo and Chicago. Whilst she can cover the court well, she is consistently vulnerable on her serve and lacks the weapons to take enough rallies across the match into her own hands.

At the mercy of Sanders today, I think Doi may struggle a touch. Sanders has put together a solid body of work on the hardcourts in her first full season on tour in some time. She is very tactically intelligent, and with more time on the ball today against Doi, I am anticipating her to make good decisions at a high rate. I will be taking the game handicap here for 1.5 units.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Sanders -2.5 games vs Doi (recorded at $1.84)

Trungelliti v Davidovich Fokina

Marco Trungelliti added another fascinating aspect to his career with another exceptional qualifying effort last week, however things are about to become a whole lot more difficult.

Trungelliti made his way through grand slam qualifying successfully for the 7th time (not including lucky losers), saving 7 match points in his final round win over Aleksandar Kovacevic 3-6 7-6 7-5, including a late match point save that included a lunging, diving volley.

This week saw the first tennis on the hardcourt for Trungelliti since the Australian Open, which he lost to Marterer in round 1. Marco made his way through qualifying here in 2019 with some strong performances, before retiring down 1-6 1-4 to Kei Nishikori in round 1. Whilst the win over Liam Broady was solid in round 2, he was gifted his round 1 win over Kavcic due to injury and handled the occasion late better than Kovacevic. How does he fare with the significant rise in opposition quality?

I think this is a great spot to take Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Looking at his lead in form and his losses to Isner and Hurkacz in the last couple of weeks, you could be forgiven for finding this game line and price to be on the unappealing side. I think the drop in opposition serve quality and general power quality helps ADF significantly.

Trungelliti was only able to generate 3 break point chances for the entirety of the match with Kovacevic, and only broke after a lapse from the American after failing to convert 5 match points in the previous game. With ADF able to find his way into return games regularly, he should be able to cover the handicap here barring a significant lapse. I will cap this at one unit as ADF’s serve can falter for periods, however, this looks like a nice line to kick things off on day 1.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Davidovich Fokina -6.5 games vs Trungelliti (recorded at $1.78)

Watson v Juvan

I had this rated as value for Kaja Juvan, and that is before you take into consideration the injury question marks surrounding Heather Watson this week.

If the conditions in Flushing Meadows were a touch faster, I would be able to understand the odds a little more. Juvan’s WTA hardcourt level record isn’t fantastic, however, her losses on the hardcourts this year have included Iga Swiatek in 3 sets, Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open (went on the make the final), Coco Gauff in 3 sets, Sorribes Tormo, Bouchard (in a purple patch between injuries), and Kasatkina. She gets Watson here off an indifferent patch of tennis, with 3 set wins over Volynets, Peterson, and Sasnovich, and a loss to Barty, and a retirement 7 days ago against Bogdan.

Juvan should be able to dictate most points in this match-up, and it is likely going to take some successful low percentage tennis for Watson to win in these conditions based on current form. Again, just a one unit play to kick off the tournament, with a bit of value on Juvan at the moneyline.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1-unit Juvan to defeat Watson (recorded at $1.95)

Berankis v Schwartzman

This looks to be one of the more interesting ATP battles of day 1 of the main draw, as Diego Schwartzman is slated to do battle with Ricardas Berankis.

This looks to be a solid match-up for Schwartzman first up. After struggling to handle the serve and topspin of Casper Ruud in Cincinnati, the flat ball striking of Berankis should be far more to his liking. His court coverage and consistency will cause problems for Berankis, who would prefer the conditions in New York to be a little faster overall.

Berankis has looked solid without being spectacular this American hardcourt wing, however a number of his recent losses have included one sided sets lost – something important to consider when looking at handicaps greater than 6 in the early stages of tournaments. Whilst I won’t be aggressively attacking many of the larger game handicaps early as players get a feel for the conditions, this price looks worthy of a 1.5-unit selection.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 1.5 units Schwartzman -6.5 games vs Berankis (recorded at $1.88)

Bouzkova v N Osaka

I mentioned in my outright preview that I have questions about Naomi Osaka given she has played such little tennis of late. I am happy to oppose her here north of $8 whilst I await an answer.

If this match were to be played in the heat of the day with a bit more pace in the court, I would be less inclined to oppose Osaka. Since she withdrew from Roland Garros she has wins over Zheng, Golubic, and Gauff (trailed by a set and unconsolidated break), and losses to Vondrousova and Teichmann. The first serve percentage is still erratic, and the harder hitting nature of Osaka’s game may work well here for the out of form Bouzkova.

Using angles to their advantage and throwing in the occasional drop shot to Osaka has worked well for Teichmann and Vondrousova over the last month, and it will be interesting to see if Bouzkova can implement a similar tactic. Whilst the recent run of the Czech has been poor, she has been forcing third sets and tiebreaks of late, without being able to break through. I do prefer her in this position against a bigger striker, where she will need to cover the court and counterpunch well to be a threat.

Just a small play here, however, I would have Bouzkova closer to $5, and worthy of a 0.75-unit selection. Another option is to take Bouzkova to win set 1.

Suggested Bet

BACK — 0.75 units Bouzkova to defeat Osaka (recorded at $8)

The final grand slam of the year is upon us, with the top men and women of the tennis tour converging on Flushing Meadows for the US Open. There is a touch more normalcy to the 2021 tournament, with the Cincinnati Masters occurring in Cincinnati of all places, and the full complement of qualifying taking place for both the men and women in the lead-up.

There looks to be a little bit of rain on the radar, with New York suffering some flash flooding over the course of the last couple of days. It looks as though round 1 will be a warm, humid start for the players, before cooling a touch for the rest of the first week.

Regarding the weather, if there are any extreme weather forecasts on the way across the course of the fortnight, I will discuss this in the day-to-day previews across the course of the fortnight.

If you have any questions at any stage – do not hesitate to get in touch.

Quarter 1

Novak Djokovic: The entire state of this draw revolves almost entirely around Novak Djokovic. He is on the verge of history as he looks to win all four grand slams within the calendar year. This is where things get a little bit interesting, as Djokovic has taken a slightly different route to the US Open than previous years. After failing in his quest to win gold in the singles in Tokyo, or bronze in the singles and the doubles, Djokovic decided to step away from the tour until the US Open.

Whilst most found their form in Canada and then Cincinnati in terms of major tournaments with competitive fields, Djokovic didn’t play at all. I think this was the right move for Djokovic, as he is good enough to work his way through the first week and look to gain form along the way. No Nadal and Thiem reduce the list of threats significantly, and I think his biggest threat for the fortnight is himself, be it physically or mentally. If Djokovic brings a level near his best – he wins. If the pressure of the calendar slam gets to him, or he injures himself or tests positive for COVID-19 in New York, he opens himself up to being vulnerable. There are a couple of ways to approach him, which I will discuss later.

David Goffin: The Belgian just hasn’t played enough tennis this year to consider him in any major aspect for any form of outright, and that is before you look at his draw. As the seed closest to Djokovic, there is no value here.

Aslan Karatsev: His best performance at Grand Slam level came earlier this year on the hardcourts in Melbourne. Since a deep run in Belgrade on the clay, it hasn’t been the smoothest of sailing for Karatsev, with a string of disappointing performances on the grass and the North American hardcourt swing. Perhaps his first full season at the top level has started to get to him a touch? Vulnerable in this draw, and there doesn’t appear to be any strong form lines to back him here in the best of 5 set format.

Alex De Minaur: After losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Seb Korda, the Australian unfortunately tested positive for COIVD-19 prior to leaving for Tokyo to play in the Olympics. As a result, it looks as though he has lost some of his fitness edge over the best players in the world. Struggled in Cincinnati against Gael Monfils, and that doesn’t bode well for grand slam hopes. Tricky first-round opposition as well in Taylor Fritz.

Hubert Hurkacz: An interesting prospect in this section of the draw. With round 1 looking to be played in warmer conditions in New York, Hurkacz will be grateful for seeing a favourable first-up opponent in Egor Gerasimov. Marton Fucsovics as a likely round 2 opponent will be tricky, however, his overall North American hardcourt form in 2021 is quite sound. Hurkacz has the potential to be a threat in this quarter, and it will be interesting to see how his eighth of the draw pans out, as he wouldn’t be without hope in a potential 4th round match-up with Matteo Berrettini. Will take a good performance to beat.

Lorenzo Sonego: I am not sure Sonego lacks the consistency across the best of 5 sets on hard to be able to make a strong case regarding this pocket of the draw. Honest, but hard to see him finding enough winners to be making his way to the second week.

Fabio Fognini: Like with most draws that include the Italian, he is one of the great wildcards of the draw. At his worst, he could lose to an out-of-sorts Vasek Pospisil, but at his best, he could make the second week. Instead of jumping into an outright, I may look to play him in at the right price as an underdog in some spots.

Matteo Berrettini: Looked a little patchy on his return to the tour in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, scraping past Albert Ramos before losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets. Much like we saw Stefanos Tsitsipas struggle to back up his finals appearance in Roland Garros, we may see something a little similar here from Berrettini. My initial instinct is based on little tennis in the lead-up and the fact he is in the same quarter as Novak, I would rather find some trading selections elsewhere, a little further down the draw.

Unseeded players of note: Whilst I don’t see any of the unseeded players in this quarter making a deep run, the names that stand out the most on a mix of recent form and past grand slam showings include Ilya Ivashka, Marton Fucsovics, Taylor Fritz, Jenson Brooksby, Jordan Thompson, Mackenzie McDonald, Kei Nishikori, Jan-Lennard Struff. I am looking forward to seeing what Brooksby and Nishikori can do in the early rounds, as well as seeing how Ivashka backs up from his week in Winston Salem.

Quarter 2

Alexander Zverev: Dominating on the court of late whilst commanding much of the off-court attention of the tennis world (for very disappointing, and justified reasons). Putting that to the side for a minute, he has looked the most dominant over the last month or so, with titles in Tokyo and Cincinnati. His early draw looks reasonable (barring some absurd performance from Sam Querrey out of the blue), and things will start to get difficult with a potential round 4 meeting with Jannik Sinner. He is a worthy 3rd favourite; however, can he maintain his recent form in the longer format with all the off-court speculation around him? That is the question. Not backing, but not opposing early days either. If Sinner finds trouble in rounds 1-3, I will look to take a future spot on Zverev.

Alexander Bublik: His best can set the world on fire, however, the likelihood of Bublik being able to maintain a level near his best, for best of five-set tennis, across a fortnight, is still a little beyond him in my opinion. Unlikely to progress beyond round 3 at best.

Gael Monfils: Married life has resulted in some improved form from Gael Monfils in recent weeks, however, if he wasn’t able to make his way into the outright picture at the peak of his powers, it is going to take a lot of convincing to consider him in his current form. Best of 5 sets is not his friend at this stage of his career.

Jannik Sinner: The Italian presents as an intriguing prospect in this section of the draw. I do feel as though he is the biggest threat to Zverev in this section on recent form, however, the Italian has still struggled at times when it comes to the longer matches and handling the cumulative fatigue that can occur as a result. Prefer a quarter winner market than an outright market, especially sitting in the same half as Mr Djokovic. Like Zverev, if the German finds a way to lose in rounds 1-3, I may look to jump into his outright price.

Pablo Carreno Busta: The Spaniard came within a set of the US Open final in 2020, and won bronze in Tokyo, and still seems to receive little attention. I was hoping for a slightly friendlier draw for PCB this week, to be honest. His ability to maintain a consistent level is what allows him to make deep runs in the best of 5 set arena, however, I think there are a few players in this quarter alone that have a higher ceiling in the conditions, making him slightly less appealing. Whereas Zverev and Sinner share an eighth of the draw with Bublik and Monfils, PCB ends up with three very solid seeded players, which is a touch off-putting.

Reilly Opelka: Another intriguing player capable of reaching the last 16 here in Flushing Meadows. Opelka put together a career-best week at the Canada Masters, reaching the final with wins over Kyrgios, Dimitrov, Harris, Bautista Agut and Tsitsipas. Whilst it was a career-best week and he is playing some inspired tennis, I am not sure I can take him in the outright markets. Instead, I will look to find value on him match to match.

Karen Khachanov: Another player who makes this quarter a little more challenging for everyone. The Russian looked to gain a lot of confidence from his silver medal performance in Tokyo and looks to be producing a more consistent level of late. Whilst it has taken good players to beat him of late, the way in which is has lost to the likes of Zverev and Tsitsipas recently is cause for concern. He isn’t a play for mine, but he is part of the reason why PCB, Opelka and Shapovalov also fail to register as selections.

Denis Shapovalov: The Canadian almost pops up as value here. He seems to love the conditions at Flushing Meadows, however, his inconsistency since Wimbledon has been somewhat alarming. He looks to be low on confidence, and in a packed eighth of the draw, he will need to find his range against quite quickly. If he can put in a genuinely impressive performance against Delbonis first up, where he looks locked in from the outset and doesn’t have any significant lapses, I will consider him in the outright market. Just needs the confidence, and another nearby seed to find trouble.

Unseeded players of note: Whilst they won’t be there on the final weekend, I am curious to monitor Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Sebastian Korda, Lloyd Harris in the early rounds.

Quarter 3

Andrey Rublev: Drawn to face 42-year-old qualifier Ivo Karlovic in the first round, in what will be one of the more fascinating matches of the first round. As a rule, the higher the stakes and the higher the quality of the tournament, the less inclined I am to jump into Rublev in outright markets unless there is an intention to lay off. His draw-up to the quarter-final does look friendly though and certainly has my attention. This is the type of draw where things could really open up for the Russian, however, there is one unseeded player in close proximity that is of some concern. More on that later.

Filip Krajinovic: Too inconsistent at the ATP level on hardcourt for me to consider in the calibre of this quarter.

Roberto Bautista Agut: Another tournament in conditions that should suit the Spaniard, however, I remain underwhelmed by his overall body of work in 2021. Can RBA bounce back or is this the new level for him? I would rather find out without investing money on him. Cannot wait for Kyrgios vs RBA in round 1.

Felix Auger-Aliassime: Took a medical timeout before fading out of his third set with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Cincinnati. The week off should assist here, however, my preference at the current prices lies with a couple of other players.

Cristian Garin: I don’t think this will be the Chilean’s best tournament for the year. Prefers the clay, and although he is very solid on the hardcourt, I don’t see him featuring in the outrights.

Ugo Humbert: Solid without being spectacular of late. Humbert is another interesting prospect given his position in the draw; however, I do struggle to see him getting over the line against the bigger names that are likely to be present in the second week of the tournament.

Cameron Norrie: Whilst you could make a case in some respects for Humbert being the biggest threat to Stefanos Tsitsipas in this draw, I think Norrie is a larger overall threat. Whilst he has lost a couple of tight three-set matches in the last couple of weeks, he is only just over a month removed from one of the most dominant title runs of the year in Los Cabos, where he lost 19 games en route to wins over E Ymer, Escobedo, Fritz, and Nakashima, before backing up the next week to beat Kyrgios 6-1 6-4. His ability to cover the court, absorb and re-direct pace as a leftie should be seen as a threat to the likes of Tsitsipas in current form. Trading option at nearly 4-figure odds.

Stefanos Tsitsipas: I think I am comfortable playing around Stefanos Tsitsipas in this edition of the US Open. Tsitsipas just hasn’t quite looked as though he is the same player we saw on tour in the lead-up and during Roland Garros. For a player that isn’t the strongest return of serve, he hasn’t been able to make the most of his opportunities of late. Where he should have been winning matches in straight sets, he was finding himself in three-set battles. May be struggling a touch mentally with the rigors of a full year on tour, especially given his strong start to the year. I am fascinated to see how his first match against Andy Murray pans out, and I cannot entertain him in the quarter winner or outright markets at his current price.

Unseeded players of note: The main standout unseeded names in this section are Frances Tiafoe, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman and Carlos Alcaraz, however, there is one of those four names that I want to highlight. Whilst I don’t see him as a title-winner prospect, I do consider Tiafoe to be a genuine threat to Andrey Rublev in the early stages of this tournament. Tiafoe has shown himself to be a player that is suited to having the entire crowd at his back and has shown he has the fitness to match it with most on tour, suited moreso by the best of 5 set format. I think you could do worse than making a 0.15-unit selection on Tiafoe in the outright market, and then I will likely be involved on him at what I assume will be a value price against Rublev (based on recent market support for the Russian). Tiafoe is one of the reasons I am not backing Rublev pre-tournament. Of the others, Alcaraz hasn’t quite proven himself enough yet at grand slam level to jump in and trade, Millman is struggling with injury, and it is tough to see Kyrgios string together enough tennis with his fitness base at present.

Quarter 4

Casper Ruud: The most vulnerable in the conditions of all the top 8 seeds. Ruud is an incredibly honest opponent on the hardcourts, however, does find himself overpowered by some of the top names. Whilst his recent wins over Opelka (who was struggling to back up physically), Schwartzman, Lajovic, and Cilic have been impressive, his losses to Zverev and Tsitsipas have yielded only 9 games across 4 sets. I think he will be found out at some stage in the earlier rounds, and although he should be too strong for the 2021 version of Jo Wilfried Tsonga, the likes of Van De Zandschulp, Davidovich-Fokina, Isner and Medvedev await in this quarter as some of the challengers.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: The Spaniard put together an impressive run to reach the 4th round of the US Open last year, with wins over (Dennis) Novak, Hurkacz, and Norrie. He doesn’t appear to have been able to use that momentum to make great strides in terms of form and consistency on the hardcourt, however, he is going to be a tough out in this draw. He should be able to at least make the third round on his draw, and I would like his chances against Ruud were they to meet (or anyone else in this section). It is hard to get excited about using him as a back-to-lay option as his price will likely remain unchanged unless Medvedev or Djokovic find a way to lose in the early rounds. I think I might look to a potential underdog spot vs Ruud in round 3 instead of a back-to-lay.

John Isner: The American has regained his form in the North American swing in some impressive fashion, with a title in Atlanta, a semi-finals appearance at the Canada Masters (def Fokina, Garin, Rublev and Monfils), and a third-round appearance on the quick back-up in Cincinnati, defeating Norrie and Sinner in three setters before running out of legs. For a player that normally comes into the US Open in decent form and with a lot of attention around his name, he only holds a 30-14 career record at Flushing Meadows, reaching the quarter-final twice. He looks capable of a quarter-finals appearance based on this draw, and although he hasn’t always been a crowd favourite in Flushing Meadows compared to some, the crowd will only help. His first-round opponent in Brandon Nakashima is a genuine threat, however, instead of taking the money line in that one, I don’t mind the 4th quarter winner market, with an option to lay off if he were to make it to the money match and end up facing Medvedev.

Diego Schwartzman: Solid without being spectacular on the hardcourt of late. He will need other players to play poorly here to make a deep run. Happy to sit him out pre-tournament and keep an eye on his tennis.

Grigor Dimitrov: Grigor hasn’t been the same since being severely impacted by COVID-19 last year. He was already trending downward; however, he hasn’t looked confident on court lately, and I don’t see him featuring in the outrights come the end of the fortnight.

Daniel Evans: The form we saw from Evans to start the year looks to have completely deserted him. It will be interesting to see how he fares with decent crowds back in the stands, however, cannot entertain for an outright.

Marin Cilic: Former winner here, however an entire Hudson River worth of water has gone under the bridge since then. Too close to Medvedev in the draw, although I would be intrigued to see that match-up unfold.

Daniil Medvedev: One of the bigger question marks in this entire draw. Medvedev loves to play on the absolute limit – it is part of what has made him so successful as a player over the course of the last couple of years. The downside? Something minor and relatively insignificant has the potential to completely derail his mindset and overall confidence. Whilst it was running into a camera against Rublev in Cincinnati, we also saw it when he dropped serve against Djokovic to start the Australian Open final. After a disappointing Roland Garros and Wimbledon, it will be interesting to see how he looks in the early rounds here. Unless Djokovic finds a way to get eliminated, I foresee his price to be steady in the early stages and it will give me time to form an opinion. Now I am not backing, but I am also not actively opposing.

Unseeded players of note: The main names that stand out are Dominik Koepfer, Marcus Giron, Brandon Nakashima, however like the other quarters, it is hard to see any of them becoming a US Open semi-finalist. They will be tricky opposition in the early rounds for some big names though.


This whole preview is a couple of thousand words revolving around the question: can Novak get the job done?

On form, I don’t see anyone troubling Djokovic in the first four rounds based on their current form, and the nature of best of 5 set tennis. The biggest threats in the quarter are Hurkacz and Berrettini, and they must face each other before a potential meeting with Djokovic in the quarter-final. I will start with a selection on Djokovic here to win the tournament, as I don’t foresee as many early issues for him as I do some of the other big names.

Prior to seeing them on the court, I think the potential 4th round meeting between Zverev and Sinner knocks the value of both competitors. Further to that, I think the presence of Carreno Busta, Opelka, Khachanov, and Shapovalov in the same eighth leads to me sitting that section out pre-tournament. If one of those four gets knocked out early and it opens an aspect of the draw, I will look to jump into this section late in the first week.

Now to the bottom half, who all avoid Djokovic at least until the final were they to meet. I am wary of Rublev’s tricky early draw, so there isn’t as much appeal in his price. I can say the same for Tsitsipas as well, so I will make small trading selections at large prices on Frances Tiafoe and Cameron Norrie. After the early rounds, I may look to get involved in either Rublev or Tsitsipas were they to look solid, however, I cannot entertain them at their current quotes.

To the bottom quarter, and I will start here with a play on John Isner to win the quarter and look to lay off that were he to meet Medvedev in the QF. I will be keeping a close eye on Medvedev. He has shown he can struggle a bit at times when it comes to humidity (cramped vs Dellien the year he made the final and has waddled his way through many a match in recent years), and he will need to start strong for me to consider him as well.

This may be one of the more active fortnights in terms of coming in and out of the outright market, so be sure to keep an eye on the Betfair Hub for updates!

Betting Strategy

BACK – 2.5 units Djokovic to win outright (recorded at $1.85)

BACK – 0.4 units Isner to win 4th quarter (recorded at $13)

BACK – 0.2 units Norrie to win outright (recorded at $900)

BACK – 0.15 units Tiafoe to win outright (recorded at $1000)

Some of the situations I will be considering:

  • If Tiafoe finds trouble in Rd 1 or 2, to back Rublev in the outright.
  • If Sinner finds trouble in Rd 1-3, to back Zverev in the outright.
  • If Zverev finds trouble in Rd 1-3, to back Sinner in the outright.
  • If Berrettini finds trouble in Rd 1-3, consider a trading stake on Hurkacz.
  • If Tsitsipas is in trouble in Rd 1 vs Murray, consider adding some further stake to Norrie.
  • If Rublev is in trouble in Rd 1-3, consider a trading spot on Auger-Aliassime.
  • If Medvedev finds trouble in week 1, consider an outright trading spot on John Isner.
  • Monitor the progress of Carreno-Busta/Opelka/Khachanov/Shapovalov and consider potential trading options if the closest seed finds early trouble (most focus on taking a price on Shapovalov in the outright if Khachanov finds early trouble).

Quarter 1

Ashleigh Barty: I don’t think there are any questions around the state of the world’s number 1 position in the WTA anymore. Barty has taken a complete stranglehold on the position, and after skipping the US Open last year will be looking to put in a decent performance here. I don’t mind the draw of the Australian either for a couple of reasons. She sits in the opposite half to Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, and the biggest three threats in my opinion on form in her quarter in Belinda Bencic, Iga Swiatek, and Jessica Pegula, with all three slated to meet each other prior to a potential quarter-final with Barty. Barring injury or a redlining performance from Kudermetova, she should be in the second week at a minimum.

Veronika Kudermetova: Another player that falls into the category of being solid without being spectacular. I think she is a little too close to Barty to be any value, and her lead-in form is a little too up and down for strong consideration.

Karolina Muchova: Reached a career-high ranking in May of this year, breaking into the Top 20. Muchova showed what she can produce in Melbourne, where she made the semi-final of the Australian Open, defeating Pliskova, Mertens, and Barty along the way. The injury question mark is a concern here, and a first-round match with Sara Sorribes Tormo will be a great test first up. One to monitor.

Jennifer Brady: Her two best tournaments in the last 12 months have been the US Open (semi-final, lost to Osaka in 3 sets), and the Australian Open (final, lost to Osaka). She holds a 6-8 record since the Australian Open final, and injury has impacted most of her year. It is hard to entertain her given the physical question marks.

Belinda Bencic: The 9-match win streak which spanned Tokyo and Cincinnati came to an end at the hands of Jil Teichmann. Fresh of the biggest win of her career in claiming gold at the Olympics, confidence should be high for Bencic. She hasn’t played a Top 10 player during that stretch, so there is a question mark over how this form stacks up (best win vs Krejcikova, who was also playing doubles in the extreme heat in Tokyo). First significant test is likely in round 3 with Pegula.

Jessica Pegula: An intriguing piece to the puzzle that is this eighth of the draw. Her losses coming into this are against Giorgi (in form) and Pliskova (after being up handily on the scoreboard in each set). She is an interesting match-up, and for mine presents as one of the threats to Barty in this top half. I do feel as though nerves would play a heavy role in her performances deep into week 2, however, I would consider a moneyline rollover of Pegula up until the quarter-finals as a different approach to the quarter-winner market.

Anett Kontaveit: Too up and down for my liking. Her two best weeks this year have come in the week before grand slams when many of the top names are resting. 13 of her 24 wins have come in the week before the Australian Open (Grampians Trophy), Wimbledon (Eastbourne), and the US Open (Cleveland). Hard to consider when most of her best comes without the big names around.

Iga Swiatek: Both recent losses have come to solid opposition in Badosa and Jabeur. I’d have rather seen Swiatek find herself in a different part of the draw to Barty, however looking at her current price I am not sure there is any significant value in her current outright price. Likely to take her game handicap or total game under in round one by the looks.

Unseeded players of note: The main names here that I am keen to observe (but not bet) include Clara Tauson, Shelby Rogers, Sorana Cirstea, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Jil Teichmann. I am fascinated to see how Tauson measures up were she to meet Barty in round 2.

Quarter 2

Karolina Pliskova: I won’t be too keen to get involved in Pliskova pre-tournament, and part of that is due to her first-round price being way too far under the odds for my liking. It is hard to make a really strong case for Pliskova on the outrights given some of her recent performances in finals in 2021. It will be interesting to see how she fares with a tricky early draw.

Petra Martic: Whilst she is an honest opponent, it feels as though these conditions will require her opposition to be a touch ‘off’ for the Croatian to make a deep run here.

Paula Badosa: The Spaniard has reached a career-high this week, after a string of solid performances. Whilst she hasn’t found herself losing early in tournaments, she also hasn’t found herself still alive in the final four for a while. I won’t be taking her current outright price; however, I will be watching her early to see how she has recovered from her injury suffered in Cincinnati.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Granted a Visa into the United States at the last minute. Whilst she had put together a very solid year, including her finals appearance at Roland Garros, I think her price is a little too short for her recent hardcourt form.

Petra Kvitova: One of the hardest players to gauge in the WTA. Backed her in some capacity in each of the last two grand slams, and injured herself at the press conference at Roland Garros, and lost in the first round of Wimbledon. With my concerns around her ability in heat and humidity, I want to watch the first round or two play out first.

Maria Sakkari: Sakkari mentioned at the beginning of the year her desire to be more aggressive this year, and that is evident. With that increase in aggression comes some inconsistency, as we have seen recently. At this stage of her career, I am more inclined to get involved in specific matches with Sakkari, as her performance in the quarter-final at Roland Garros showed that her nerves (and understandably so) can get the better of her late in these larger tournaments. Tough first-round opponent as well in Kostyuk.

Jelena Ostapenko: Too up and down to consider in the outrights now for mine.

Bianca Andreescu: Took a small play at her in the outright market a couple of weeks ago on the thinking she would be able to string together a solid patch of tennis somewhere in the lead-up to the US Open. She looked solid in Montreal prior to injury and struggled against Muchova in Cincinnati. Benefits from the day off between matches, however outside of winning the title here a couple of years ago and a decent draw, it is now hard to back her.

Unseeded players of note: Players who are going to be tough opposition for seeds in potential early matchups are Liudmila Samsonova, Marta Kostyuk, Ajla Tomljanovic, Amanda Anisimova.

Quarter 3

Elina Svitolina: Svitolina comes into this with some solid form since Wimbledon, with a bronze medal in Tokyo and a title in Chicago. Whilst I don’t have tournaments the week before a slam carrying much weight, the last month has been a step in the right direction for Svitolina. Whilst I won’t be jumping into the pre-tournament price on Svitolina, I will be wary that she is an upset or two away from her draw here really opening up. I will be watching closely for a trading spot.

Daria Kasatkina: As has been the case for most of her career, Kasatkina has found herself overpowered in recent weeks by players capable of playing within themselves and defeating her with high IQ tennis. I don’t think this is the best draw in terms of matchups for Kasatkina, with Pironkova first up and Vondrousova likely second up. Happy to look elsewhere for now.

Elena Rybakina: When the going gets tough, can Rybakina get going at grand slam level? Rybakina is another player who has some question marks around the ability to finish off on the bigger stages of these tournaments. If Halep loses in the first couple of rounds, I will find her path more appealing.

Simona Halep: The game of Simona Halep is so heavily based on her ability to find some rhythm on court, something injury has prevented in 2021. She won’t have any time to find her rhythm in round 1 either with Giorgi across the net. Happy to watch on for now.

Angelique Kerber: The German presents as one of the more interesting pieces of this entire draw. Whilst she does have a slight danger game early, she does feel like the type of player who can trouble the likes of Osaka off not a lot of tennis. Found form and confidence on the grass, and that translated to a solid week of tennis in Cincinnati. You know what she can produce at the top level, and that helps to make her price appealing.

Coco Gauff: Should enjoy being back at Flushing Meadows with the support of the crowd. I’d have liked to have seen her display a touch more form in the lead-up to justify her current price.

Yulia Putintseva: Another player who hasn’t shown enough recently on hardcourt for consideration in the outrights.

Naomi Osaka: I need to treat Osaka quite differently here to how I have treated her prices in the past. She currently falls in the awkward sweet spot of looking horrendously under the odds in the first round against Bouzkova, but at the same time knowing her ability to really build into the fortnight, she does look to be an appealing outright price. I have the biggest threat in this section for now being Angie Kerber, which will impact my outright selections. More on that in the summary below.

Unseeded players of note: There are a few interesting names here, including Marketa Vondrousova, Camila Giorgi, Dayana Yastremska, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Leylah Fernandez, Marie Bouzkova. Vondrousova is the most appealing and is part of the reason I am unable to confidently make a play on Svitolina at her current price (well, one of the reasons). Giorgi vs Halep and Yastremska vs Kerber will play key roles in shaping this quarter.

Quarter 4

Barbora Krejcikova: The biggest beneficiary of Sofia Kenin withdrawing from the tournament. Krejcikova has been one of the stories of the year, and her ranking would be higher were it not for points remaining on rankings for longer due to COVID. Whilst there may be other players in this section that have a higher ceiling were they to redline their level, it is the ability to find a level that is close to her best for incredibly long periods that helps her stand out above some of the other names. Australian Astra Sharma will be an interesting test first up; however, I would suggest it would be disappointing for Krejcikova were she not playing singles in the second week. Two of the three biggest threats here in the quarter are Azarenka and Muguruza, who play each other before potentially meeting the Czech, and there are several names capable of upsetting Sabalenka prior to the quarter-finals. Value.

Ekaterina Alexandrova: Hasn’t made a deep run in an outdoor hardcourt tournament for a very long time. Too erratic to consider strongly in the outrights.

Victoria Azarenka: A bit like Simona Halep, Vika has struggled to find any rhythm on the court this year. She benefits from the day off between matches, and obviously enjoyed the conditions here last year, however it is hard to have her on such little tennis recently.

Garbine Muguruza: If you can catch her on a good week, then well played. Instead of guessing what level she is going to produce early, I would rather watch and wait. If she looks good early and does meet Krejcikova in the fourth round, I will likely keep her safe at worst. Watch closely.

Elise Mertens: Hasn’t shown enough recently to entertain, although does show up as a player that could be capable of knocking off her close friend Sabalenka. Prefer to monitor match to match.

Ons Jabeur: Another in a similar bracket to the likes of Sakkari and Rybakina. Her best is great, but can she maintain it late in the tournament? Jabeur has struggled to finish off several matches recently, and when her first serve percentage sits around 50% so often, it feels as though someone will take advantage along the way.

Danielle Collins: Cannot entertain when she comes into this match with a leg injury. Monitor early.

Aryna Sabalenka: Whilst she was able to guarantee a position in the other half to Ash Barty, she still finds herself in the same half as Osaka. I think her current price looks about right to be honest, with a relatively tough draw and the question marks around her composure late in grand slams. Happy to watch early.

Unseeded players of note: Whilst I don’t see them in the outright picture, players to be aware of early in the draw are Johanna Konta, Irina Begu, Donna Vekic, Rebecca Peterson, Alize Cornet, Carla Suarez Navarro and Kaja Juvan.


What a fascinating draw we have for the coming fortnight. There are a few big names with some interesting first-round matchups, meaning I may hold fire in a couple of spots.

I am happy to take staking here on Ash Barty for at least the purpose of covering other stakes across the outrights. Her draw is friendly to start, and she should be able to make her way through the early rounds with relative ease on current form. The other name that has value here, more so in the quarter-winner market than the outright market, is Jessica Pegula.

The second quarter is a bit of a funny one. As I said earlier, I cannot take the pre-tournament price on Petra Kvitova, but I will be keeping a close eye on her progress to potentially add. I already have the pre-tournament outright on Andreescu at a poor price, so won’t be adding anything into this quarter just yet.

The third quarter presents value for Angelique Kerber in my opinion, but more so in the quarter winner to the outrights at present. That will be my only play in the quarter, for now, however, I am likely to add Naomi Osaka as an outright if she looks strong in round 1. With Osaka playing day 1, there shouldn’t be a huge drop in price on her if she wins a match she is $1.15 to win, so I would rather oppose her in that match as I have questions about her level currently, and then invest in the outright market if she can answer those questions.

The fourth-quarter leads me to value for Barbora Krejcikova given the draw. With some tougher opposition earlier in the tournament for Sabalenka, and Azarenka and Muguruza projected to meet before the Czech gets near them, I am happy to start off this quarter with a selection of her, then look to add in the first week.

Betting Strategy

BACK – 0.6 units Barty to win outright (recorded at $5)

BACK – 0.5 units Krejcikova to win outright (recorded at $21)

BACK – 0.6 units Kerber to win 3rd Quarter (recorded at $9.40)

BACK – 0.3 units Pegula to win 1st Quarter (recorded at $11)

Monitoring for round 1:

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