Sat, Aug 27, 9:53am by Bren O'Brien
Novak Djokovic‘s defence of his US Open title has been dealt a few favours by the draw but the bookmakers are divided over his chances, with a good spread of odds available on the Serbian world No.1 winning the title.
Djokovic is $2.25 with Sportsbet, but as short as $1.80 with William Hill to snaffle his third Grand Slam tournament of the year, with Wimbledon and Olympic champion Andy Murray $2.88 (Sportsbet) or $3 (William Hill) depending on where you shop.
Djokovic may have won six of the past nine Grand Slams tournaments, including four on the bounce before his surprise third-round loss at Wimbledon, but there are doubts about his form and fitness coming in to this tournament.
There is a sense that Djoker may be a bit flat after an extraordinary 18 months and there is no doubt that Murray has closed the gap between the two after a great two months from the Scot.
You’d expect the draw to fall well for Djokovic, that’s the whole point of a seeded draw, but things have probably turned out as well as he could have hoped.
He gets a very straight forward passage to the quarters, where his likely appointment will be with either Marin Cilic ($26) or Jo Wilfried Tsonga ($126). Cilic won here two years ago, defeating Roger Federer in the semis and Kei Nishikori in the final, but was thrashed by Djokovic in the semis here last year – winning just three games and the Serbian will fancy himself to beat his Croatian rival for a 15th time is as many matches.
WATCH: We preview the 2016 US Open
If it’s Tsonga in the quarters, Djokovic will be equally as confident having won 11 of their past 12 match-ups.
The seeds say Rafael Nadal ($23) is the man most likely to play Djokovic in the semis, but anyone who has seen the Spaniard of late will tell you his light of former days, especially on hard courts. With respect to Nadal, who at his pomp was arguably superior to both Federer and Djokovic, I’d be surprised to see him in the semis, with Milos Raonic ($23) a far more likely opponent. Djokovic is 7-0 against Raonic over his career.
Murray’s path through to an eighth Grand Slam final against Djokovic is much more fraught. Trouble could loom as soon as the fourth round, where Grigor Dmitrov is a possible opponent. Dmitrov has won three of his past six against Murray including their most recent clash in Miami this year.
Murray’s record against probable quarter-final opponent Nishikori is a lot better (7-1) and he beat him in the semis in Rio with some comfort, but Nishikori likes this tournament and is in good nick.
Likely semi-final opponent, Stan Wawrinka, who is $17 with William Hill but $26 with Sportsbet, is another one Murray has had some difficulty with. They are 9-7 overall in Murray’s favour, but Wawrinka has won three of their past four, including here at the quarter final stage in 2013.
If it’s not Wawrinka in the semis, it could be former champ Juan Martin Del Potro, currently third favourite for the tournament at $15 with William Hill and $21 with Sportsbet, the man who beat Djokovic in Rio and pushed Murray in the Olympic final.
Murray is in close to career-best form, and he may overcome all the obstacles we have listed, but Grand Slam tennis is about having something left for the final and the draw definitely suits Djokovic in that regard.
It’s worth noting that eight of the past ten US Open finals have served up battles between two of the big four, Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Nadal.
Suggested Bet: Djokovic at $2.25 with Sportsbet might prove the steal of the month. Save with a wager on Nishikori at $26 with William Hill.
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