Djokovic reveals he won't play
Up until the last hour, and according to media reports, Novak Djokovic could well have been in a similar position to the one he found himself in at the Australian Open - being unable to participate due to the Covid vaccination rules of the country which he needs to travel to.
But just after 3pm (UK time) on Thursday Djokovic released a Tweet on his official Twitter account confirming that he will not be able to travel to New York and therefore won't be taking part at this year's US Open.
Novak's lack of game time was another concern
Whether Djokovic deserved to be market favourite prior to his withdrawal is another interesting debate. He's played just three outdoor hard court matches this year, and hasn't played a competitive match since winning Wimbledon at the start of July. In that tournament, he won despite not really dominating, only winning two matches via straight sets and needing five sets to get past Jannik Sinner in the quarter-final.
However, Djokovic was trading at 2.727/4 before his Tweet, but it's now Daniil Medvedev who is trading as favourite at 3.55/2.
Please note, however, that Djokovic remains in the market at the time of writing (15:30) and will only be removed once Betfair receives official confirmation that he won't play, likely meaning that Medvedev will shorten further.
Medvedev hasn't quite hit the heights that I thought he would this year - particularly given the regular absences of Djokovic and also Rafa Nadal - but the Russian is still running at 108% combined service/return points won on hard court. Not quite elite numbers, but pretty strong.
Djokovic's absence from the top four in the world rankings (effectively five given Alexander Zverev's injury) made predicting pre-tournament value even trickier. He could have ended up in the same quarter as any of the leading contenders (Medvedev, Nadal, Alcaraz) while Nick Kyrgios is another dangerous floater in the draw as well.
Nadal price looks pretty risky
As for Nadal, he's played one solitary match since withdrawing ahead of his Wimbledon quarter-final against Nick Kyrgios around six weeks ago - that was in Cincinnati last week, where he was beaten in three sets by the shock winner of the event, Borna Coric. The 5.69/2 market line on Nadal looks pretty risky based on this evidence, plus the further consideration made below...
There is potential for one quarter to be absolutely stacked with top level talent, and another bracket to be very weak indeed - so keep an eye out for that as the draw evolves tonight.
I'll be returning over the weekend to discuss the draw in detail and to finalise any outright selections, before the daily previews start on Monday in advance of the first day's action in New York.