With the US Open just a few days away, there are plenty of talking points ahead of the final Grand Slam of 2021. Dan Weston returns to discuss the leading contenders for the men's title...
"Considering his Slam success so far this season and underlying numbers, Djokovic’s status as an odds-on favourite shouldn’t be a surprise."
Djokovic odds-on with top four a 90% chance of winning the title
Following the withdrawal of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal from the men's event, Novak Djokovic is the only remaining player of the traditional elite three remaining in the draw, with the Serb priced at odds-on to lift the trophy. He's 1.814/5 at the time of writing, with just three remaining players - Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas - priced below the 50.049/1 mark currently in the outright market.
Based on these market pricing, there's around a 90% implied chance that the tournament winner comes from this quartet, which should accurately illustrate how top-heavy the men's draw is with only a few players having a realistic chance of making the latter stages.
World number one with calendar Slam in sights
Therefore, in advance of tomorrow's draw, here's a rundown of the main contenders for the title, and a summary of the best of the rest:-
Novak Djokovic 1.814/5: The tournament favourite, and looking to win his fourth Grand Slam title of the season. Considering his Slam success so far this season and underlying numbers, Djokovic's status as an odds-on favourite shouldn't be a surprise.
The Serb has won over 90% of matches overall in 2021. At an all-surface combined service/return points won percentage just over the 112% mark, Djokovic is proving that he's still the elite player on tour and is undoubtedly the player to beat coming into the tournament, although he comes into the US Open off the back of two losses at the Olympics which denied him a medal in the tournament.
Medvedev and Zverev next in the outright market
Daniil Medvedev 6.6011/2: The Russian is marginally second favourite in front of Alexander Zverev, and his numbers dictate that those prices are fair enough. On hard court this year, he is similar to Djokovic at around the 112% mark for combined service/return points won and comes into the tournament in reasonable shape following a title in Toronto earlier this month. The pick of the remainder of the field and the fact he'll be drawn in a different half of the draw to Djokovic is also useful.
Alexander Zverev 7.006/1: Comes into the tournament with back-to-back tournament wins, having won the Olympics and Cincinnati. Zverev has beaten all of Djokovic, Tsitsipas and Rublev en route to those titles, which should fill him with confidence. However, he's only reached one Slam final in his career - a loss here last season via a final set tiebreak to Dominic Thiem - which is a poor return in this best of five set format. All-surface numbers this year are slightly behind Djokovic and Medvedev, showing the market has got their pricing about right.
Stefanos Tsitsipas 14.5: The outsider of the main contenders and unfortunately for him, justifiably so. Lacks the return data of both Djokovic and Medvedev on hard court, and the recent form level of Zverev having lost semi-finals in both the recent hard court Masters 1000 events, and suffering a shock third-round defeat to Ugo Humbert at the Tokyo Olympics. Will probably be hoping to be drawn in a different half to Djokovic.
The next two contenders in the outright market list look most likely to challenge out of the remaining field, and could potentially represent some value in the quarter winner market if they receive a favourable draw.
Berrettini's strong serve could see him cause problems
Matteo Berrettini 55.054/1: Has played a limited schedule after reaching the final of Wimbledon, skipping the Olympics and Toronto Masters before a third-round loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime in Cincinnati. However, Berrettini's strong serve (he's won 71% of service points this year) will stand him in good stead for the tournament and I don't see him as much of a downgrade on Tsitsipas. Definitely one to watch in advance of the draw.
Andrey Rublev 70.069/1: The Russian hasn't kicked on as much as some anticipated after his breakthrough season last year, but reached the final of the Cincinnati Masters last week (lost to Zverev, but beat Medvedev in the semi-final). Data-wise, he's slightly behind these other five contenders - particularly on serve - but retains upside and and looks to be the best of the remainder of the draw.
I'll be returning over the weekend to discuss the draw in more detail, and to finalise any outright selections ahead of the tournament starting on Monday.
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