A lot has changed over the past month as the tennis world prepares for the final leg of the Grand Slam: the US Open. First, the Tokyo Olympics have come and gone. As controversial as these games were, one still watched in awe at the pure athleticism, competition, and sportsmanship that world-class athletes provide.
The tennis events saw the two favorites fall in disappointing fashion as hometown hero, Naomi Osaka was ousted in the third round by Czech native Marketa Vondrousova, in a loss that shocked the tennis world. The loss was further evidence that Osaka’s mental game is not where it needs to be right now, and casts doubt on her ability to perform at the US Open. Osaka remains the favorite to win at +500.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokavic also made an early exit at Tokyo, losing to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals. The loss marked the third straight summer game that Djokavic failed to take home a medal. Djokavic now turns to the US Open to try and complete only the third calendar Grand Slam in history, although his shaky play in Tokyo may not give bettors the most confidence.
Perhaps something that has maintained Djokavic as the odds on favorite at -150 is the withdrawals of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and last year’s winner Dominic Thiem, all due to injuries. The odds are not great, but this almost looks like a cakewalk for Djokavic should he show up with his A-game.
The favorites for both the men’s and women’s side have not changed over the past couple of months, despite both Osaka and Djokavic having disappointing Olympic experiences. On the men’s side, it’s difficult to bet against Djokavic even though his -150 odds are less than ideal. On the women’s side, Osaka’s recent slide has made things a little more interesting. She remains the favorite at +500, but right on her heels is Australian Ashleigh Barty at +550.
Personally, I still don’t like Osaka’s odds despite being a big fan of hers. I think Barty poses a better opportunity to win even though she has historically struggled on the hardcourt. I am actually growing on Serena Williams at +1000, because I think she can still overpower her competition if she chooses to.
Outright Tournament Winners are obviously more fun since it gives you a direct rooting interest as well as a higher payout. Consider hedging these with bets like one-on-one player matchups and over/under the numbers of sets in a match, and even prop betting has made its way into tennis. Like with most sports, One-on-One player matchups can either be bet on the moneyline to see who is the outright winner or with a handicap of the number of sets the favorite will win by.
In terms of the best players in the US Open this year, the men’s side is definitely losing some of its star power. For years, Nadal and Federer did battle on the courts, but the two Hall of Famers are certainly starting to feel the brunt of their injuries. Years of tennis are causing their bodies to break down, and both legends will be sidelined until the 2022 season.
Defending champion Dominic Thiem was going to be one of my bets outside of Djokavic, but with Thiem being sidelined I’ve had to pivot off of him. I don’t hate last year’s finalist Alexander Zverev at +700, but in my eyes this is Djokavic’s tournament to lose and I just do not feel strongly about betting any other player on the men’s side. Djokavic’s Olympic loss aside, the world number one has been unstoppable this year taking all three legs of the Grand Slam so far.
The women’s side remains a toss-up. I talked about how I would fade Osaka and go with Barty if you want to bet on one of the favorites. I still think Polish youngster Iga Swiatek is underpriced at +1200, so if I was going to take one longshot after Serena Williams, it would be her. Earlier this summer I noted Simona Halep would be a good longshot as well, however, Halep’s withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics due to a calf injury has me off of the Romanian star.
The oddsmakers seem to agree as her odds have slipped from +1100 to +1600 over the past few weeks. Barty is coming off her impressive victory at Wimbledon and will be looking for her second straight Grand Slam tournament win, and a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics for the mixed doubles event. Swiatek is certainly a long shot at this point but has made it to the fourth round twice and quarterfinals once in the three earlier Grand Slam tournaments this year. Most notably, Swiatek took home the 2020 French Open as a 19-year old.