US Open 2012: Eight players who could cause a Flushing Meadows upset

Can any of Sean's picks stop Nole?

With only three weeks to go before the beginning of the US Open (August 27), Sean Calvert discusses some promising betting angles and selects eight players who could be worth an interest...

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 48.047/1
Probably the most likely player to upset the top four seeds and always a popular bet for big price backers, as he’s made a slam final in the past and has wins over all of the top players.

August sees the beginning of the build-up to the final tennis grand slam of the year, the US Open.

When the Olympics is done and dusted, the top players will head for North America and the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati before the big one in New York at the end of the month.

Many of the lower ranked players, plus the likes of possible contenders Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas and Sam Querrey are already there, having missed out on London 2012 and they've had a head start on the American hard courts, but history suggests that they won't make it past the quarter-finals.

The US Open, like the majority of the other slams lately, has been dominated by the top seeds and the only hint of a surprise winner in the men's singles in recent memory was Juan Martin Del Potro's 2009 triumph.

Pete Sampras's 2002 victory when seeded number 17 could be classed a something of a surprise, but he was a four-time champion already and made the finals the previous two years, so I'm not sure that really counts.

Unseeded Mark Philippoussis made the final in 1998 as did Greg Rusedksi the year previously also as an unseeded player, but of late it's been totally dominated by the top three or four seeds and of course only 16 players were seeded in Greg's day.

The betting for this year's men's singles reflects that, with Del Potro's current price of 32.031/1 being the closest to the top four. As I was fortunate enough to have backed him to win it in 2009 I recall his price being around 18.017/1 before the off that year.

Of course, Rafa Nadal's participation is not guaranteed this time around because of injury, which would open up one half of the draw considerably, so it could be worth loading up your portfolios now in case Rafa doesn't make it.

Apart from the obvious top stars the following players are the ones rated most likely to emulate Philippoussis and Rusedksi and are available at very tempting prices, but do they have a chance of breaking the historic precedent?

Milos Raonic 85.084/1
The big Canadian missed the hard court swing last year due to injury and has only played one match in the main draw in New York. He's at his most effective on indoor hard and has been disappointing so far outdoors, but he's still quite inexperienced at 21-years-old and I'd be wanting a bigger price.

Tommy Haas 220.00219/1
Back up to number 36 in the world and rising, the 34-year-old former world number two is enjoying a late renaissance in his career, but age is surely against him and he's never been past the last eight in New York.

Tomas Berdych 75.074/1
Perhaps the most frustrating player to follow on the men's tour, Berdych has the ability, but mentally he doesn't have the mindset of a grand slam champion. A former finalist at Wimbledon, the Czech is very capable of opening the pathway for others with a big win, but he's not consistent enough to claim the title and this is not his best slam, having never bettered the last 16.

Juan Martin Del Potro 32.031/1
The nagging suspicion that his best days are behind him is what comes to mind with Delpo, but he's still only 23-years-old, so it's a little too soon to write him off. Plagued by injuries since that 2009 triumph, his body seems intent on letting him down and he hasn't been able to reproduce the brutal hitting that we saw here three years ago since. The Argentine has won just one hard court title since his US Open and has a 10-31 record against top-10 opponents since.

John Isner 75.074/1
The big serving machine is one of America's only hopes and it's a slim one. Had a really good spring, beating both Federer and Djokovic and made the finals of Indian Wells, but he's surely destined to be little more than a spoiler at slams, as it takes him too long to win his matches, which leaves no energy for the latter rounds. Reached just one major quarter final so far in his career.

Mardy Fish 340.00339/1
Hopefully on the road to recovery after a wretched year with his health and for me America's best hope of reaching the last eight. Very effective on American hard courts and a former quarter finalist in New York. Time might be running out now at 30-years-old, but a good hard court swing would see him in with a shot of reaching the business end of the tournament again at a huge price.

David Ferrer 90.089/1
A former US Open semi finalist and like Fish, a player who has made the best of his ability. The world number five will, as ever, be tough to beat, but it would be an amazing achievement if Ferrer made the US Open final at this stage of his career considering he's only won four titles on outdoor hard his whole career (and three of those were Auckland's ATP 250 event).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 48.047/1
Probably the most likely player to upset the top four seeds and always a popular bet for big price backers, as he's made a slam final in the past and has wins over all of the top players. Beaten comfortably by Federer in last year's quarter finals and another who you feel isn't consistent enough in majors and needs others to get rid of at least one or two of the top four to stand a chance.

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