The US Open is upon us. Qualifying for the fourth and final slam of the 2017 season is underway and both the Men’s and Women’s sides offer a ton of valuable positions in the futures market. Well known names have pulled out or are playing injured, up-and-comers look ready to pop and upsets will be commonplace at Flushing Meadows over the next fortnight. To some degree this slam is going to be a battle of attrition, last man and woman standing win… Welcome to New York!
Men’s Singles Draw
The current prices available for the Men’s Singles Draw are noted below; these are from 5Dimes but are fairly representative of the market median prices available pre-draw.
Roger Federer +175: The favorite at a ludicrous price of +175 is 19-time slam champion, 37-yr old Roger Federer. We previously covered the goat in our Wimbledon Preview and as hoped, Roger put on a spectacular performance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club this year. The level to which he was able to perform is unlikely to be match in the USO and at this price there is no reason to run to the window to back Fed. Roger (who last won the US Open in 2008) enters the USO with the third seed and should receive a cherry draw, however he sustained a potentially problematic back injury in the Rogers Cup Final that limited his effectiveness and subsequently kept him out of the Cincinnati Masters. It will be very important to keep an eye on his fitness level as his 2017 year has been equal parts amazing success and significant wear-and-tear on his body. If he has another slam title in him, we should be able to identify it based on his play early in week two and get some open parlays in place to equal or beat the current price.
Rafael Nadal 3/1 : The second favorite is the current World №1 and tourney 1-seed Rafael Nadal. Again, we previously covered the King of Clay in the French Open Preview and as expected that tourney was Rafael Nadal’s crowning achievement. He smoked the field in style, capping off the most spectacular clay season on record, however that run has taken its toll on the player and he has yet to reach the quarterfinals of a tournament since that success. It’s fair to wonder what, if anything, his knees have left in them and it’s fair to wonder what he has left to prove this season after completing La Decima and re-claiming the World №1 ranking. The current price of 3/1 to back Nadal is way too short, like with Federer he may very well have another slam in him this year and we’ll be on the lookout for it but there is no reason to run and back Rafa at this number. Based on his recent loses, Rafa will be vulnerable to the heavy hitting servers who can power him off the court and if he can show an ability to get past players who fall into this category he may be worth backing to make a run in the 2nd week here but there is very limited optimism of that happening in New York.
Been a long season, huh fellas?
So if the whole market is tilted toward the two favs who are over-priced (in my opinion) then there must be value on the players listed at 8/1 and higher that we can take advantage of. The questions is who?
Injured Reserve: If it feels like we are repeatedly coming back to injury and fitness speculation in the remaining breakdowns, you are not crazy. The current field on the Men’s side looks like the walking wounded. In addition to Fed and Nadal who are dealing with wear and tear issues, Murray, Kyrgios, Cilic, Raonic, del Potro and Isner have all recently missed time due to various degrees of acute injuries. In addition, 2016 winner Stan Wawrinka, 2016 finalist Novak Djokovic, and 2016 semifinalist Kei Nishikori have all withdrawn. So we know for sure the Final is going to look a bit different this year.
See you guys in 2018
Alexander Zverev 8/1: Outside of the amazing resurgence of Federer and Nadal this year, the story of the 2017 tennis season has been the emergence of AZ. The 20-yr old wunderkind realized his potential early this season winning some mid-level tourneys on indoor hard and clay before breaking into the elite club of Masters Champs in Rome back in May. He followed that up with his first Slam Quarterfinal at Wimbledon and perhaps even more impressive, a second Masters Title on the hard courts in Montreal at the Coupe Rogers, stomping the invincible Federer 6–3 6–4 in the Final. He now sits at No. 6 in the world and will likely finish the year in the top 3, a position he could feasibly maintain for the next decade plus. From the lukewarm take department… Sascha Zverev is the future of Men’s Tennis.
This looks intimidating, right?
So does that mean 8/1 is great value? Well he’s among the few healthy players and he is undoubtedly talented on the hard court but his success at the best-of-five level is limited (although with the new coaching of Juan Carlos Ferrero he may significantly improve in Slam performance, h/t @MatterTipTennis). A reasonable expectation is he takes another step in his progression, making his first semifinal before losing a tough five-setter to a grizzled vet. Of course he’s been defying the odds all season so a spectacular title run isn’t out of the question, just about as likely as the 8/1 price would imply.
Andy Murray 9.5/1: Expectations could not be lower for the past champ and former No. 1 in the world. Andy won his first slam title here in 2012 and there is zero doubt Murray would love another one to erase the nightmare that has been his 2017 campaign. It’s clear that the quest to become No. 1 had serious ramifications on Andy’s mental state at the start of the year; and now his body has followed, his hip finally breaking down in the QFs of Wimbledon when he was up 2 sets to 1 vs Sam Querrey and collapsed losing the final two sets 1–6 1–6.
British Commentators were literally saying Murray would still win “because of his heart!” as he looked like this…
We haven’t seen Andy swing the racquet (or use it as a cane) since then and in that time the tennis world has been anxiously waiting for word on his plans to play or sit out the USO. Even though he’s decided to play and his No. 2 seed will afford him a friendly draw, his chances of winning are significantly lower than what you get at the current consensus price of 9.5/1 which makes him a stay away until further notice. Get well soon Andy.
Nick Kyrgios 14/1: Despite the ridiculous serve and the unreal forehand, this guy is a meltdown waiting to happen with fatigue concerns in best-of-five tennis. Maybe worth backing to pull off an upset if he can make it deep into this tournament but very low likelihood he can keep a cool head and fit form for seven matches.
Grigor Dimitrov 16/1 : Very worthwhile player at a price that still has value; Dimitrov fresh off his first Masters title in Cincy is in great shape (both not hurt and physically fit). If he gets matched up against Federer, low confidence he pulls it out because Fed eats Grigor alive of his sorry 2nd serve, but otherwise Dimitrov has a great shot head-to-head against any other contender in New York. His level right now is as high as it has ever been…
Dominic Thiem 20/1 : This price makes no sense, should be closer to 50/1 the way Domi plays on hard courts and in the US. Like Domi a lot as a fan but his campaign this summer has been a complete disappointment and he needs to add a lot to his game to compete at tourneys like the Aussie and US Open in years to come.
Marin Cilic 20/1 : High risk, high reward here. The last time we saw Cilic he went full Baumer in the Wimby Final… He’s taken off his shoes and a sock, actually I think he’s crying. He skipped all the run-up tourneys in the US in the interim, including choosing not to defend his Cincy title, due to an “abductor injury” which is concerning, if true. There is a sneaking suspicion that he has overblown his injury in order to rest (and train with his team in Europe, if you catch my drift) in preparation to take this tournament by storm. Outside of Federer and Nadal, Cilic has played the most impressive best-of-five tennis this summer and he’s won the title here before which matters a lot. At the current prices, if I could only place one future bet on the US Open it would be on Cilic at 20/1.
Milos Raonic 25/1 : Another price that doesn’t make any sense. Milos has been fighting through a whole slew of injuries and the idea that he can win 7 best of five matches seems crazy. This summer has seen him lose to average Tour players like Sock and Mannarino making him a stay away from Round 3 on. (Update, Milos pulled out with a wrist injury).
Juan Martin del Potro 25/1 : Talented enough on his best day to win it all but seeming in the twilight of his career after completing his comeback last year with a silver medal in Rio and a Davis Cup title for Argentina. Will be a nice ML parlay leg type of play in the opening rounds but likely to wear down and lose early in week 2, draw dependent.
The price drops off significantly beyond these fellas, but there are a few head-scratching long shots that are worth backing…
Gael Monfils 100/1 : Monfils is the only semifinalist from 2016 in the field this year and is a jaw-dropping 100/1 to win right now which is ridiculous. If he makes it to R4 you are in shape for a hedge, QF or deeper and you can make something serious out of this. He is playing well right now as evidenced by his incredible comeback to beat Nishikori in Montreal (see below) and he’ll go toe-to-toe with the best in the game, especially given the extra day rest the players get between matches. The only potential drawback is his draw, currently the 19-seed means he’ll have a very tough road, but at this price it’s silly not to grab a taste.
Sam Querrey 150/1 : It has been a while since Sam had a nice run at the US Open, his best performance here was a Round 4 appearance in 2010. However, Sam Querrey is having himself a year. He’s won titles in Mexico twice (Acapulco over Nadal and Los Cabos just last month). He ousted Murray in Wimby on his way to his first slam semi and he’s played very well in best-of-five in recent years and 60 or 75 to 1 is a much more reasonable price making him a steal at 150/1.
Dick Gasquet 250/1 : Gasquet is a great player in the later stages of his career but he has found success at Flushing Meadows, making the Semi-finals in 2013. The most competitive match of the whole summer was Alex Zverev vs Gasquet in Montreal where the kid fought of two match points in superlative fashion (see below). If that match was an indicator of his level and AZ is currently 8/1 then Gasquet at 250/1 is a terrible number and a must grab.
David Ferrer 250/1 : If 2017 is anything it’s the year of the old guys and their is one more old guy who looks like he still has the juice on the tennis court right now, Senior David Ferrer. Two-time semi-finalist making his last ride this summer is going to make some noise, he’s great in best-of-five and really he’s a lot of fun to pull for so might as well back him at 250/1 and hope for a magical run.
Women’s preview will pop up here with a summary of future positions on Friday. Cheers and enjoy The US Open!