Andy Schooler spoke to some of the leading bookmakers as they prepare for the final tennis Grand Slam of the season at Flushing Meadows
Last Updated: 22/08/12 2:58pm
The US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the season, gets under way on Monday in New York.
As punters prepare to place their bets, we sought out the thoughts of some leading bookmakers to get the inside track on how they expect things to unfold.
Andy Schooler asked them the pertinent questions and here's what they had to say...
Who's your pick for men's singles and why?
Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: The time for Andy Murray to lift a major has finally arrived. His outstanding performance in winning gold at the Olympics can give him the extra confidence and self-belief to get over that final hurdle.
David Stevens, Coral: With Rafa Nadal missing the season's last Major, the big four have become the big three, and although Juan Martin Del Potro has winning form at Flushing Meadow, the top three in the betting are once again Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray - and for good reason. Djokovic has been unable to replicate his 2011 dominance this season, and although Federer was superb at Wimbledon, this could be Murray's moment at last.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: It is difficult to see anyone outside the top three seeds really challenging for the title. While many may fancy former champion, Del Potro to cause an upset, he is yet to prove that he can beat the top players since his comeback. Roger Federer's resurgence in form over the past couple of months has won him a lot of support, and it is easy to forget that he had match points against Djokovic in the US Open last year. However, the Serb has beaten Federer in consecutive years at the US Open, and although he is not playing his best tennis right now, I fancy Djokovic to make it back-to-back titles at Flushing Meadows.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: It's very difficult to look beyond the front three. With Nadal missing through injury the shape of the draw takes on a greater significance as it is possible for Murray and Del Potro to land in the same half as either of the top two seeds. Murray to win but wait until the draw is made as prices will change markedly. At present (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga and (Milos) Raonic are our worst results as customers look for bigger prices.
After his Olympic win, is this Andy Murray's best-ever chance of Grand Slam glory?
Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Yes, as previously stated, Murray should be as confident in his ability as he has ever been. He also has a solid record on the hardcourts of New York and the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal is also a plus for Murray, as the Spaniard has beaten him in their last four Grand Slam meetings.
David Stevens, Coral: Yes, as stated above, he is my pick. Reaching his first Wimbledon final was a huge step for him, with the home pressure on his back, and although he was unable to turn his first-set dominance into victory that day, it should be remembered he was facing the greatest player ever to pick up a racket (in my opinion). He then proved he can beat the best in a first-to-three sets final when winning Olympic gold, and that can be the catalyst for his breakthrough Major success.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: The gold medal, and particularly the manner in which he won it, will have given Murray a great deal of confidence. After finally winning a set in a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, he pulled off the biggest victory of his career in the Olympic final, demolishing a tired Roger Federer in straight sets. However, he will likely still have to beat both Federer and Djokovic to win the title. His belief will be sky-high after a glorious summer and this is undoubtedly his best chance so far to win a maiden Grand Slam title.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: No, his best ever chance will be in the future once Federer has gone and Nadal's knees finally give in, but Olympic gold will have given him greater self belief.
Can anyone deny the 'big three'? If so, who?
Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: It looks very unlikely. Juan Martin Del Potro is threatening to make a challenge to the very best once again but still seems to be troubled by some injury niggles when it really matters. I would look no further than the top three in the market who look a class or two above the rest.
David Stevens, Coral: Unlikely. The 2009 winner Del Potro is fourth in the betting, but I've not seen enough this season to suggest a repeat win for the Argentinian, and it's then 33/1 bar those four, which tells its own story.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: I really cannot see anyone denying the 'big three'. There are plenty of players that could trouble them, or even beat one of them, but to win the title, they will probably have to beat at least two of them, and I simply do not see that happening. Del Potro is the one that will be mentioned most in this regard, but, the 2009 US Open apart, he has an awful record against the top players and I would view him in the same category as the likes of Tsonga and (Tomas) Berdych - players that could beat one of the big names, but who are unlikely to win the title in the final reckoning.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: Del Potro has the best credentials having already tasted victory in New York. As stated above, the draw is vital this year and he could have to beat all Federer, Djokovic and Murray. He was value at around 33/1 pre-Wimbledon but not now.
How about the women's singles? Is Serena nailed on?
Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Serena has been in sensational form since the end of March and will take all the beating in New York. However, she now stands at around even money to win the title and I would be looking to oppose her at such short odds. She has only won the US Open once since 2002 and still has the occasional off-day which was highlighted perfectly by last year's shock defeat in the final to Sam Stosur and her off-colour performance in losing to Angelique Kerber in Cincinnati last week.
David Stevens, Coral: Terrific at Wimbledon, awesome at the Olympics, it's hard to get away from the feeling that if Serena wants to win her home Grand Slam event, she will. Any odds-against looks a solid enough betting proposition.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: I do not think that Serena is nailed on at all. She will always produce a dodgy performance at some stage in a Grand Slam - the question is whether her opponent can take advantage. We saw it in the Australian Open against (Ekaterina) Makarova, and in the French Open against (Virginie) Razzano. At Wimbledon, she struggled past both Zheng (Jie) and (Yaroslava) Shvedova, neither of whom could take advantage. Indeed, everybody had her nailed on last year, before she imploded in the final against Stosur. She is rightly the favourite, but I would say she was far from nailed on.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: Forget the no-show v Kerber in Cincinnati and she has been unbeatable this summer. She has played at a different level from her nearest challengers. The draw will be fascinating in as much to see who avoids Serena. She is not nailed on as she can throw in the odd no brainer, as against Razzano at the French.
Any decent outsiders for the women's draw worth backing?Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Li Na is not an outsider as such but with odds of near 20/1 still available, she looks worth a tasty dabble after making back-to-back finals in Montreal and Cincinnati. She is purely a confidence player and should be backed whie in such a hot vein of form. Anastasia Pavyluchenkova also looks interesting at bigger than 100/1. She has been training with Darren Cahill in the past few weeks and has put up improved showings since then. She is a former two time Grand Slam quarter-finalist and there are clear signs that she might just be returning to very competitive form. Her first serve is still a bit of a weakness with the very best but she has the potential to go deep.
David Stevens, Coral: The women's game appears to lack any great strength in depth, so it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see three-time US champion Kim Clijsters progressing towards the latter stages at what will be her final tournament.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: There are two outsiders that I particularly fancy here - Li Na at 20/1 and Angelique Kerber at 28/1. Li Na reached two Grand Slam finals last year, and has finally begun to find her form again this year, winning in Cincinnati and reaching the final in Montreal. She knows what it takes to win a Slam, and when she is on form, she is a difficult opponent. Coming into last year's US Open, Kerber was ranked number 107. A semi-final run there followed by a highly successful 2012 season so far has seen her rise to number six. She proved what she can do last week, beating both Serena and (Petra) Kvitova before succumbing to Li Na in a high-quality final.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: With many of the bookmakers having offered prices on the Open since the start of the year there has been plenty of time for customers to bet form players. Kerber at 100/1 for example was available in May. Serena was still available at 5/2 as she was destroying the field at the Olympics. I think the winner of the ladies' will come from Serena, Azarenka, Li or Kerber.
From all the available markets, give us your best bet for the tournament as a whole.
Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: I'm going to go for Andy Murray to win the US Open. He can kick on from Olympic success and grab his maiden Slam.
David Stevens, Coral: Sabine Lisicki to be top German player in the women's draw.
Ian Dorward, Stan James: I really like the look of Angelique Kerber as the top German. Her nearest rivals are Lisicki and (Julia) Goerges, both of which I would have concerns over. The only top-30 player that Lisicki has beaten on a hardcourt this year is an ageing (Svetlana) Kuznetsova, with a poor defeat to (Carla) Suarez Navarro most recently. Goerges has also struggled on hardcourts this year, with defeats to Tamira Paszek and Pavlyuchenkova in recent weeks. Given that I expect Kerber to be pushing deep into the second week, the 5/4 available looks to be an excellent bet.
Leon Blanche, Boylesports: Difficult to give anything before the draw but Li Na has shown plenty under her new coach to suggest she can go deep in this event.