ATP US Open Post-Draw Tips: Djokovic odds-on in top-heavy draw

Serbian Tennis Player Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is odds-on against the field...

Following Friday's draw, all 128 players in the men's singles know who they will face en route to the final next Sunday. However, the realistic question to ask is, can anyone beat Novak Djokovic?

"As absurd as it seems that one player is favourite over the field in a 128-man tournament, it's so difficult to dispute that the market is wrong."

Djokovic favourite over the field

We've seen this story before. Novak Djokovic comes into a Grand Slam with little or no preparation, or a shock loss in a warm-up event, and then runs through the field with no player able to truly test the world number one. Djokovic has won three Slams already this year and needs one more to overtake Federer and Nadal as the leading Slam winner of the traditional elite trio - which would make his case to be the greatest of all time pretty indisputable.

Because we've all seen this story before, and because Djokovic has won those three previous Slams this year, and because Djokovic is the best player on tour, he's odds-on to lift the trophy in two week's time. As absurd as it seems that one player is favourite over the field in a 128-man tournament, it's so difficult to dispute that the market is wrong. I'm sure there will be some layers of his 1.8910/11 current price, but I can't see that price moving upwards for a while yet.

A potential first three round line-up of Holger Rune, Jan-Lennard Struff and David Goffin won't hugely concern the world number one, although Rune has huge potential (probably more so on clay) and Goffin was previously in the top ten, but as early rounds go, it's not a disastrous draw.

Berrettini and Hurkacz in top quarter with Djokovic

In fact, the draw in the top quarter was more disastrous for the likes of Matteo Berrettini 65.064/1 and Hubert Hurkacz 100.0099/1, with both knowing that they'll have to go through Djokovic to make the semi-finals. They'd have definitely preferred to be in a different bracket.

Medvedev firmed up as second favourite

Following the draw, Medvedev has firmed up as the 5.79/2 second favourite, which makes sense. My numbers suggest he's still a reasonable way ahead of third favourite Alexander Zverev 8.07/1 despite Zverev's good recent results. Stefanos Tsitsipas 14.013/1 makes up the quartet who the market thinks have got a markedly greater implied chance than 2% to win the title.

The trio of Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas are evenly distributed through the quarters. As second seed, Medvedev is in the bottom quarter of the draw and cannot meet Djokovic until the final, and he potentially faces several former top 10 veterans in the early rounds, such as Richard Gasquet and Marin Cilic. I'd be surprised if either were able to shock the Russian.

In truth, it's not a surprise to see Medvedev firm up as second favourite with quarter four not really having any of the top 10 in the market in it - he will be delighted with his draw.

Zverev with tough middle and latter stages draw

That's perhaps less the case for Alexander Zverev, who in quarter two knows he has Djokovic lined up in the semi-final before, according to seeding anyway, Medvedev in the final. He also has some reasonably tricky early matches, potentially against Sam Querrey, Lucas Pouille and Alexander Bublik. Zverev will also need to get past the likes of Denis Shapovalov and Jannik Sinner, and Olympic runner-up Karen Khachanov in order to win his quarter, which looks a tougher prospect than he'd have hoped for. With several young players with high potential also in Q2, such as Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Korda, this bracket looks really competitive.

Quarter three also looks competitive

This is also the case for Q3, which sees Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Nick Kyrgios, Felix Auger-Aliassime, among others, fighting it out to make the latter stages. Bautista-Agut versus Kyrgios is a real highlight in round one, and while Tsitsipas looks justified in being bracket favourite, it's far from a given with a number of talented players and some big-servers who could cause some shocks in the bracket.

With the outright market so top-heavy, it does look difficult to have much confidence that the market has it wrong. There are a number of young players with high potential in the draw, including those mentioned but also Jenson Brooksby, but this year looks too early for them to do any real damage to the reputation of the big names. In a year's time, however, the situation could be much more different.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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