The most open tennis major this century
Whilst headlines naturally centre around Novak Djokovic's withdrawal from this year's US Open after refusing a Covid vaccination, of equal note for punters is the non-attendance of Alexander Zverev, who has yet to fully recover from ankle surgery.
The two best players in the world according to my ratings, their absence adds to a continuing slump in the quality of the men's game and makes for the most open tennis major this century - one that is ripe with value betting opportunities.
To put the decline in context, were a peak-form Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal (5.39/2), Andy Murray (400.0399/1) or Roger Federer to time travel and compete against the best in this year's draw, they would start any match, against any player, at shorter than 1.201/5 favourite, even if playing their current-day self.
Now, to find the same 1.21/5-dominance, the best in this draw, Carlos Alvarez (7.06/1), would need to compete against the 42nd-best player in the world, Alexander Bublik (1000.0).
Medvedev is terrible value
Although Daniil Medvedev (3.814/5) stands a good chance of following up his victory in last year's US Open - where he only dropped one set in the entire tournament - the market is significantly over-valuing him.
By my book, he should be around the 5.04/1 mark. Seeded one, he's in the harder, top-half of the draw, with Nick Kyrgios (13.012/1) or Roberto Bautista Agut (300.0299/1) likely difficult fourth-round opponents.
His recent hard-court form looks shaky, too. Losses to Stefanos Tsitsipas (18.017/1) at Cincinnati, and Nick Kyrgios in the Canada Masters, suggest his form is below that which brought him the win here last year.
As are Alcaraz and Kyrgios
Medvedev is not alone in being overvalued by the market. Carlos Alcaraz, at only 19, certainly has the potential to win this - and many more - majors, but grabbing the first is never straightforward, and whether he can demonstrate the two-week consistency needed to survive a draw as similarly difficult as Medvedev's is questionable. He should be around double his current odds of 7.06/1.
As should Nick Kyrgios. My model makes him a 40.039/1 shot, which is probably unfair, as his rating is hurt by his inconsistency. On his day he could beat any player in this draw, and none of the top seeds will relish playing him, but nonetheless he's a pass at 13.012/1.
Several big-priced players could take this
The flattening of the ratings at the top of the men's game means a valid case can be made for several players, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, Taylor Fritz (30.029/1), Jannik Sinner (21.020/1) and Cameron Norrie (50.049/1).
Of those, Fritz is most interesting, with his defeat of Rafa Nadal in the final at Indian Wells in March reading particularly well. His odds are about right, though, and whilst I wouldn't put any one off supporting him as a top-half-of-the-draw option, I'll pass for now.
Nadal should be favourite
The big question in this market, however, is why Nadal is not favourite. He's only a whisker behind Alcaraz on my ratings, jumps well clear if only considering 2022 form, and has been gifted with a golden draw that should see him get to the quarter-finals comfortably. Oh, and he's won 22 majors, including four US Opens. On ratings alone, I make him a 2.68/5 shot.
The market nervousness around Nadal, of course, centres on his ailing body, specifically the abdominal tear that saw him withdraw from the Wimbledon semi-finals. Nadal is being cagey in interviews about his readiness, but given the paucity of talent in this field, and his record of winning majors when returning from injury, his odds of 5.39/2 look especially attractive.