The final grand slam of the calendar year, the US Open, brings to the iconic Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, NY, the best of the best for a two week tournament that begins today (Monday, August 25).
For each tennis tournament, the field is broken up into four quarters. To determine who gets placed in which quarter, seeding from one to 30 is assigned. The top four seeds are said to control their own quarters and this tournament, those men are (1) Novak Djokovic (pictured), (2) Roger Federer, (3) Stanislas Wawrinka and (4) David Ferrer.
When looking at each man’s individual quarter, one thing that stands out is of course the absence of the defending champion, Rafael Nadal. Currently the second best player in the world, Nadal is missing this tournament due to an injury he sustained earlier this year. Nadal’s absence made way for Federer to get the No. 2 seed and with it, a pretty straight forward road to his 18th grand slam championship.
If the seeds play out to form which is a strong possibility, Federer will face Ferrer, an opponent he is 16-0 against, in the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, Federer’s most likely opponent is Grigor Dimitrov who has never made it out of the first round in the US Open. On top of that, Federer has a very favorable record of 63-6 against the men he would face in order to reach the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, his would-be championship competitor has the toughest draw of the top four seeds. Djokovic’s draw includes the hard serving John Isner and Sam Querrey, who will be under the microscope on their home courts and some talented youngsters with upset potential written all over them. On top of that, Djokovic’s quarterfinal match is likely against Jo Wilifried Tsonga, who is coming off a US Open Series win and Andy Murray, the winner of this tournament in 2012. Djokovic has a record of 25-14 against the pair and has lost his last two grand slam meetings with Murray.
Federer may not have reached a US Open Final in the past five years (largely due to Nadal) but he is coming into the major looking fresh and in top form. He is fresh and in top form once again. So make no mistake, even if he doesn’t win his sixth US Open title, he will play in that championship game.
Predicting the Winner of the Djokovic-Federer Final
Tennis rarely goes to form as there is always an upset that makes their way through to the quarters or maybe even semifinals of the draw. One example was Federer’s countryman, Stanislas Wawrinka’s improbable journey to the 2014 Australian Open title, another was Juan Martin del Potro’s 2009 US Open win.
Since Roger Federer won his first major in 2003, tennis has seen a period of dominance by three men. Nadal, Federer or Djokovic have won 36 of the last 39 major championships.
So it is for good reason that the odds (2/1) favor a Djokovic/Federer final. Second highest odds (6/1) belong to a Murray/Federer final. Looking at the numbers, you’ve got a little more to gain if you take the Murray/Federer or Wawrinka/Federer (12/1) final as your bet but that doesn’t mean it’s the smartest bet. Like it or not, men’s tennis is dominated by three men right now and with one injured, the other two are likely to meet in the final.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to look at where the real value bet is going to come and that’s picking the champion. Again, you could choose to risk the odds and go for a big potential payout on the off chance that John Isner (100/1) breaks the American majorless drought, but you’d be wasting your money. Isner isn’t getting close to that title and neither is Ferrer (50/1) or Tomas Berdych (33/1) or anyone not named Federer or Djokovic.
The head to head between these two men has just about evened out with the slightest of edges going to Federer, who leads 18-17. That said, Djokovic, the world No. 1, has won 11 of their last 16 matchups. This includes the finals of the most recent major, the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Federer has a slight edge of 13-12 in their career matches on hard courts.
Djokovic hasn’t done anything much on the courts since his Wimbledon title. In fact, he has even looked outmatched at times against opponents he has dominated in the past. But that championship was only a month and half removed. Couple that with the fact that he has made the last four consecutive US Open Finals and that the hard courts have always been his bread and butter (34 of his 67 titles have come on that surface) and it makes it really hard to bet against the world No. 1.
But then there’s Federer and if ever there was a chance for him to win another major before going off into the twilight of tennis greatness, it would be this one. His chief rival Nadal is absent and he has been able to beat Djokovic on this surface before. He has the better draw and he is coming off a recent win at the Cincinnati Open. He has the respect of his competitors and his game seems to have returned to where it was five years ago. It is more than possible for him to beat Djokovic.
That said, this is honestly a toss-up. Either guy is going to be a bet worth placing. If I had to pick a winner though and albeit by the slightest of margins, my money is on Djokovic. His consistency in majors has been reminiscent of Federer from his glory days. On top of that, Djokovic is younger which may not seem like much, but if the Wimbledon finals earlier this year are any indication, it does matter. Federer ran out of steam at Wimbledon after a long two week tournament, Djokovic did not.
- The draw should help Federer to reach the finals with relative ease and as little exertion as possible. But in the end, my betting pick is to take Djokovic to be the one in ownership of the title at those best odds of +150 (6/4) with 5Dimes.