2017 Men’s US Open Preview
The final major of the 2017 ATP season has an odd air of desperation to the proceedings. It has become less about the matches; who’s playing well, who can challenge, and it is “who is left standing”??
Andy Murray because the fifth Top Eleven player to withdraw from the field yesterday. The difference between Murray and previously withdrawn Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic, and Nishikori are the TIMING. Murray was already seeded second and drawn into the bracket. His withdrawal leaves a giant hole in the bottom half of the bracket and makes the fact Nadal and Federer were drawn into the same half even more aggravating. It sets the scene for a dismally anti-climactic US Open Final.
That is, of course, assuming we even get the semi final both hardcore tennis fans and casual observers (and television execs) are longing for… Injuries, fatigue, and uncertainty abound as the Men’s US Open commences with more ambiguity and stranger odds than any men’s major in the last decade and a half.
Here’s a look at the current outright odds to win the 2017 US Open
2017 MENS OUTRIGHT ODDS:
- Roger Federer +175
- Rafael Nadal +300
- Alexander Zverev +500
- Grigor Dimitrov +1600
- Dominic Thiem +2500
- Nick Krygios +1800
- Marin Cilic +1600
- Jo Wilfried Tsonga +3300
- Juan Martin Del Potro +2800
- John Isner +5000
- Tomas Berdych +6600
- Sam Querrey +10000
- Jack Sock +10000
- Denis Shapolvolv +20000
Federer and Nadal are the obvious favorites, but with Djokovic, Murray, and Wawrinka out of the mix, there is an interesting name that has entered the “near favorite” mix, Alexander Zverev. Zverev took down Federer two weeks ago in the Rogers Cup Final in Montreal – an eye-opening moment for the 20-year old German’s ascension into legitimate top tier tennis contender, and placing him a clear notch above Thiem, Dimitrov, and others for the title of “Next.” However, a day later Federer pulled out of Cincinnati to rest, a move Zverev considered as well, before deciding to plow forward only to be dismissed early by Francis Tiafoe in a thriller.
We’ve seen more than few occasions of Zverev and Thiem knocking off a big name, Big Four, guy in a smaller tournament only to have the status quo return for the Majors – can Zverev breakthrough for real in New York City?
With the obvious fatigue and age factors for Federer and Nadal, there is some amazing value luring on the board; value made exponentially more lucrative by the fact that Federer and Nadal are drawn into the same half of the bracket. The bottom half is just replete with value… but on whom??
Let’s take a look at the 2017 US Open Men’s Draw:
Seeded Players: (1) Rafael Nadal, (7) Grigor Dimitrov, (9) David Goffin, (15) Tomas Berdych, (18) Gael Monfils, (22) Fabio Fognini, (26) Richard Gasquet, (27) Pablo Cuevas
Favorite: Rafa Nadal, and it isn’t even close. It’s really difficult to see anyone other than Grigor Dimitrov give Rafa much trouble in his quartile. Berdych is a quality veteran who has already made a deep Major run in 2017, but is 4-19 against Rafa, winning just once (2015 Aussie Open) in his last 18 matches dating back to 2007.
The only real potential trouble spot is 26-year old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov has moved all the way #9 in the ATP rankings and has played very well against Rafa in their last two head to head matches. He beat him last year in easy two-set fashion on the hard courts at Bejing and took him to five sets this season at the Australian Open. Dimitrov has won three tournaments this season and is 34-14 entering the US Open. Vegas likes him as well, installing him as the fourth-lowest odds on the board at +1600. There is some great value in Grigor, given both his draw and Nadal’s recent history in New York. Nadal hasn’t advanced past the fourth round in NYC since his 2013 win, and in his career has made just two US Open Finals – easily his worst Major Tournament mark.
It’s a bit of a daring play, but I’ll take Grigor to deprive us of the dream matchup in the semis. Sentimentality doesn’t cash winning wagers! I WANT to be wrong, but the value he is with Dimitrov at +1600.
Seeded Players: (3) Roger Federer, (6) Dominic Thiem, (11) Roberto Bautista-Agut, (14) Nick Krygios, (24) Juan Martin Del Potro, (30) Adrian Mannarino, (31) Feliciano Lopez
Favorite: Roger Federer, and again, not even close. There are a few dangerous young guns here; the emergent Dominic Thiem and the enigmatic Nick Krygios, fresh off his Finals appearance in Cincinnati, but this quartile should belong to the GOAT. Prior to withdrawing from Cincinnati, Roger had lost only three times this season, including in his last match, the Finals loss to Zverev in Montreal. He has won both Majors he entered – including failing to drop a single set at Wimbledon. Assuming he is healthy – and there is no reason to assume the withdrawal from the Western & Southern was anything aside from his contention – much needed rest – Federer is the play in the second quarter of the bracket.
Not that it will be easy. Both Thiem and Krygios have the game to win the entire US Open, and their odds reflect it. Krygios once again has odds that outpace his modest seeding. It has been that way for years – he has the talent, but mental questions are always appropriate for the volatile player. He enters the Open as the fifth or sixth slimmest odds, depending on the book, at around +1800. That is slimmer than the player I would personally be more willing to back, Dominic Thiem. Thiem has already made a Major Semifinal this season (French Open, where he blistered Novak Djokovic in straights in the Quarters) and is ranked eighth in the world.
Thiem is 2-1 lifetime against Federer, though both of his 2016 wins came on different surfaces. Federer smoked him 6-1, 6-4 on the hard courts in Brisbane in an Aussie Open tune-up. I like Thiem’s game, but I’ll take the GOAT in the second quarter of the draw.
Likewise, the third-round potential matchup against Kyrgios won’t be easy. Federer beat the 22-year old Aussie earlier this season, but it was a magnificent three-set thriller (Best of Three tournament) with all three sets coming down to close tie-breakers in alternating fashion. We have clear evidence that the young gun has the game, but under the (likely) late-night Arthur Ashe lights, I’ll take the veteran poise and shot making of Roger.
There are more sneaky values in this quarter than any other, and if Thiem, Krygios, and even Del Potro were in the bottom half of the draw, I’d like their long value even more. Right now, if healthy, the 36-year old Federer is clearly the best player on the Tour – and I’m going to take him at his word that he is healthy.
Seeded Players: (4) Alexander Zverev, (10) John Isner, (13) Jack Sock, (17) Sam Querrey, (19) Gilles Muller, (23) Mischa Zverev, (25) Karen Khachanov, (28) Kevin Anderson
Favorite: Alexander Zverev, BUT, If an American player is ever going to make another run on home soil, this is the year, and this is the quarter of the bracket to make it happen. Three of the top four players in this quarter of the bracket are American – really difficult to achieve given how FEW homegrown players are getting respectable draws in 2017 ATP tennis – but does that mean one can actually break through?
John Isner is the lowest seeded American and the second-favorite in this bracket, but his +5000 adds are there for a reason. Isner has advanced past the fourth round a Major only once in his long career (he is 32 years old), the 2011 Quarters at the US Open. He is a consistent first and second round winner, however. He hasn’t lost prior to the third round at the US Open since 2008. He is 22-10 lifetime, for a 69% winning percentage, his best mark of any Major. Here’s the problem for Isner, despite easily the best draw he has EVER looked at heading into a Major: he uses his height to his advantage, becoming one of the greatest servers, and fastest servers, in the history of the ATP Tour, but that same 6’10’’ height deprives him of the speed necessary to match up with smaller players with power on hard courts. I’m rooting for the veteran American, but think he is primed for an upset.
Sam Querrey magically overachieved at Wimbledon, advancing all the way to the Semifinals, but I think the top half of the bracket sets up well for the “other” Zverev in the quarter, Mischa. The brother ten year senior of his up-and-coming little brother has a real chance to meet his little brother in the Quarters.
On the bottom half, Jack Sock has been excellent on hard courts the last two years, but Alexander Zverev is a tough matchup. Prior to his fatigue-assisted loss in Cincinnati to Francis Tiafoe, he defeated a healthy Roger Federer on hard courts in the Rogers Cup to win his second career Masters Tournament. At #7, he is the highest ranked German player since 2004 and is poised to rise even higher with a nice draw and a clean look at a Major Final.
I’d love to see Jack Sock finally reach some of his early promise, but I think his journey ends with a Fourth Round loss to Zverev.
Seeded Players: (5) Marin Cilic, (8) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (12) Pablo Carreno Busta, (16) Lucas Pouille, (20) Alberto Ramos-Vinolas, (21) David Ferrer, (29) Diego Schwartzman, (32) Robin Haase
I mean, seriously, this is probably the worst quarter of a draw at a Men’s Major in decades. The late withdrawal of Murray leaves a battered and recently injured Marin Cilic as the if-healthy obvious favorite. But there is an “IF” attached to Cilic for sure. So then who? Tsonga, who is well past his prime? Carreno Busta? The ageless wonder David Ferrer?
If you want a sleeper here, I’ll go with Frenchman Lucas Pouille. The 23-year old has some serious game and has made two quarterfinal appearances in his young career, including last year’s US Open. He is a major punt play at +10000 but has some great value as a hedge opportunity as he navigates a sloppy bottom quarter. If he can make the Semis, you can hedge your way home a happy and profitable bettor…
Is it too boring to go chalk? I won’t say there is obvious financial value in the Federer outright, but from a purely “who is going to win the US Open” tennis pick, I’ve got no choice but to go with the GOAT tackling a staggering twentieth Major Championship. I’m not big on the value in Nadal. He hasn’t fared well late in the season throughout his entire career, and being on the same half of the draw as Federer limits his value even further. Federer has already handled Nadal on hard courts early this season, I think he’ll do the same (if needed). On that note, I like the value of Grigor Dimitrov in the top quarter of the bracket and a nice hedge play at +1800.
I’ll pick a Federer vs. Alexander Zverev final as a most likely outcome. If you can get Zverev at anything from +500 or better, it’s a nice play for a guy who is red-hot, good on hard courts and has a clean look at the Final. For a value wager, I’ll take Thiem as a potential value hedge over the more highly touted Kyrgios, though both are boom/bust, as they face Federer (likely) early, but if they can eliminate Roger, they became near-favorites to win the entire tournament.
For a punt play, the aforementioned Pouille has some sneaky value in a chaotic wide-open bracket, and Jack Sock has been good on hard courts lately and has a reasonably favorable draw.
When it is all said and done, two weeks from today, we could very well be looking at one more amazing chapter in the storybook career of the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, as Roger Federer caps off one of the greatest seasons of his legendary career with a third Major.