US Open Men’s Preview: Tsitsipas is the Outsider to Watch10 min read
It’s not long at all until the first round of the men’s US Open gets underway.
The usual suspects head the betting, but there are also a few outsiders who may represent better value.
Novak Djokovic –
Previous best US Open performance: Winner – 2011, 2015
The Wimbledon champion cemented his place at the head of the market with victory over Roger Federer in the recent Cincinnati final. The two-time winner in New York played well, no doubt, in that match but he had his struggles earlier in the tournament, needing three sets in four of his six encounters. He also lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto. Back to something close to his best but a tricky draw includes a possible rematch with Federer in the last eight, so possibly a bit short.
Rafael Nadal –
Previous best: Winner – 2010, 2013, 2017
Won convincingly in Toronto and then withdrew from Cincinnati – fatigue the only reason. He subsequently became something of the forgotten man as Djokovic’s odds shortened. The Spaniard won here 12 months ago with some ease, although the draw favoured him – he didn’t face a single top-20-ranked player en route to the title. The draw has again been kind – he’ll certainly be pleased to see Djokovic in the opposite half – and it looks like sitting out Cincy has played into punters’ hands. Arguably should be favourite.
Roger Federer –
Previous best: Winner – 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
He may have won three of the last seven Grand Slam titles but it’s now a full 10 years since Federer triumphed at Flushing Meadows. Given the pretty quick nature of the courts, that’s somewhat surprising, as was the manner of his defeat to Djokovic in Cincinnati recently when he really struggled on return. Maybe that was just an off-day and the Swiss’ aggressive tactics can still reap rewards here. However, having Djokovic in his quarter doesn’t help and there’s a tricky section of the draw to negotiate even before that meeting. There appear to be better bets out there.
Alex Zverev –
Previous best: R2 – 2016, 2017
Here are your Top 4 men's seeds for the 2018 US Open men's singles draw!
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— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 21, 2018
Three times a winner at Masters level, the 21-year-old has been a huge disappointment in the Slams with 13 attempts so far bringing just one quarter-final appearance and one other in the last 16. Only at this year’s French Open did he finally beat a top-50-ranked player at a Slam. It’s an awful record for a player of his ability – and the German knows it. He’s subsequently hired Ivan Lendl as coach, the man who helped turn Andy Murray into a Grand Slam champion. Lendl may well repeat the trick but it’s probably too early in that relationship for it to happen here.
Juan Martin Del Potro –
Previous best: Winner – 2009
When Del Potro won here in 2009 he seemingly had the world on his racquet. His career soon nose-dived due to wrist injuries that required numerous surgeries but 2018 has been the year of his great comeback. The Argentine won his first-ever Masters title by beating Federer in Indian Wells and he arrives here having just hit a career-high ranking of three. A big serve and bludgeoning forehand make Del Potro a genuine title threat – if his body holds up. He did pull out of Toronto earlier this month with more wrist issues.
Marin Cilic –
Previous best: Winner – 2014
The Croat won here four years ago when he used his first-strike tennis to huge effect, dismantling Federer and Kei Nishikori in the last two rounds. He’s since become a much more consistent player, reaching last year’s Wimbledon final and this year’s Australian Open decider. He’s also won Queen’s this season. Capable of taking down anyone on his day, the big-hitting Croat has, however, struggled to beat the ‘Big Four’ with any sort of regularity.
Andy Murray –
Previous best: Winner – 2012
It is just over a year since Murray was ranked world number one but he arrives in New York 378th in the ATP list and with no-one really knowing if his dodgy hip can handle five sets of tennis. He’s played only seven matches in almost 14 months now, none in the best-of-five format, and it would surely take some sort of miracle for him to win here. He has at least drawn a player ranked below him, James Duckworth, in round one but whether the 2012 champion can do much at all is open to serious question.
Milos Raonic –
Previous best: R4 – 2012, 2013, 2014
With his huge serve, the Canadian can be a handful for anyone on his day but those days have been few and far between of late. Certainly this season he has been short of the form which took him to the 2016 Wimbledon final. A spate of injuries, not to mention disappointing return stats, have undermined Raonic’s hopes but recent performances will give him hope – he made the Wimbledon quarter-finals and in Cincinnati gave Djokovic a real battle.
Stan Wawrinka –
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) August 26, 2018
Previous best: Winner – 2016
Returned from a six-month injury lay-off at the start of this season but struggled terribly for a long period. However, a return to the DecoTurf hardcourts of North America has co-incided with a return to form. He tested Nadal in Toronto and Federer in Cincinnati to suggest he could yet challenge again for a title he won in 2016. The bookie traders certainly reacted, cutting the Swiss considerably. However, at 33 and with few long matches to draw upon in the past year, there have to be doubts about Wawrinka’s ability to come through a tough five-setter in New York.
Kevin Anderson –
Previous best: Runner-up – 2017
Last year’s beaten finalist has since reached the Wimbledon final too. His chances in SW19 last month were reduced by his epic semi-final clash with John Isner and it was no surprise to see him swept aside by Djokovic. Still, Anderson has become a very consistent player on the ATP World Tour, his big serve being a real weapon. A repeat of his final run should not be ruled out but with Nadal in his quarter it looks unlikely.
If looking for an outsider, you could do a lot worse than back 50/1 shot Stefanos Tsitsipas, the young Greek who has rocketed up the rankings this season. Starting just inside the world’s top 100, his run to the final in Toronto took him into the top 20. A big first serve wins him plenty of free points, but there is much more to Tsitsipas’ ever-developing game. This could be his big breakthrough at Grand Slam level.
British number one Kyle Edmund may be 100/1 but almost certainly has more chance of winning the trophy than the much shorter Andy Murray. OK, his form coming in hasn’t been great but his big serve and forehand combination is well suited to the hardcourts, as he showed when reaching the semis of the Australian Open at the start of the year. He’s performed well here in the past and has shown in the past he can trouble Nadal – the pair could meet in the fourth round.
Rafael Nadal to win the title at
Stefanos Tsitsipas at