Who Will Win The US Open 2013?
Will Andy Murray win another US Open? Will Serena Williams dominate again? Today the Sultan returns with his detailed betting and trading guide for the 2013 US Open.
August 26th sees the start of the final tennis Grand Slam of the year, the US Open. Held at Flushing Meadows, New York since 1881, the last 5 years have seen 5 different winners: Federer, Del Potro, Nadal, Djokovic and current champion Andy Murray. Before then, Roger Federer dominated, winning every title from 2004-2008.
Serena Williams is reigning women's champion and has won the event 4 times, stretching right back to 1999. Since then, sister Venus has won twice, and recently retired Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters 2 and 3 times respectively. Svetlana Kuznetsova won 9 years ago, Maria Sharapova 7 years ago and Sam Stosur was a surprise winner in 2011. So in both the men's and women's draws, we will see plenty of former champions - 11 altogether, when you include 2001 champion Leyton Hewitt.
US Open Hard Courts
The US Open began life on grass but these days is an outdoor hard court, made of Deco Turf, which is a quick surface with a medium bounce. It's not quite as speedy as grass and the ball sits up more, making it easier to defend and return. The best way to see which players perform well on this surface, is to check out results in the tournaments leading up to the US Open.
The 5 weeks before Flushing Meadows are labelled the "US Open Series". 11 tournaments (men and women) make up this series, which is also a challenge event, where the players earn points which are tallied up with the top 3 earning substantial monetary bonuses. All these tournaments are played on Deco Turf, so variation in speed is negligible, giving a great indication of how someone might perform at Flushing Meadows.
Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams currently lead the US Open Series Challenge rankings, with another week remaining. The top players will normally all rest the week before the US Open but there are still some big names due to play Winston Salem, with Tomas Berdych top seed and 13 of the top 20 women are in the draw for New Haven. So it's definitely worth keeping tabs on these events to get an idea of which players might strike up a bit of form going into Flushing Meadows and also which ones might play the final and perhaps end up a little fatigued for a good run next week.
Deco Turf and the Match Odds Market
With the quick Deco Turf surface, it means that breaks will be at a premium in many of the men's matches - one will very often be enough to win a set. Certainly, if there are two big servers against each other, you can expect tie-breaks and close sets. If it's lots of swings you are looking for, you will be better off trading women's matches. But always remember, the biggest swings are found in men's matches - there are just usually fewer of them.
This means you need to be wary of getting on the wrong end of one (be vigilant when your player is serving) but also provides great opportunities to win a lot of ticks by entering the market at low risk moments. This means either by laying very low odds, going against the server or opposing a player who goes a break up. If you want to use the serve to your advantage, it is less riskier to enter the market when the server is behind in the game and this will also gain you a far better return if the server holds. As always, the key is determining who the better servers are and who the better returners are, plus who plays best on Deco Turf.
A few days of qualifying matches will have taken place before round 1. A great tactic is to look to back players who have come through qualifying at the start of their first round tie. All qualifiers will have played 3 matches, so will be used to conditions, balls etc and most importantly, will be feeling confident. It's common to see qualifiers start matches well, even against much higher ranked opponents, even if they still go on to lose.
Best of 5 Sets
In Grand Slam tennis, men's matches are best of 5 sets. This means they can be approached in a slightly different way. The key here is to be patient. It is very rare at this level, for 5 set matches to be straight trains to 1.01. 3-0 is not a scoreline you should see often, So if you bide your time, great opportunities can crop up to lay players with two set leads. There will be come backs from this position and you only need a couple of breaks or a set to make good money.
An important thing to remember is that if a match goes to a deciding 5th set (or 3rd set for the women) there is a tie-break once the score reaches 6-6. This is the only Slam that has introduced this; at the other 3, they continue indefinitely until a player has a two game margin.
The US Open has seen a lot of rain delays in recent years, which have prompted the organisers to move the final to Monday. If the weather trends continue for this year, expect some long delays, as there are no roofs or court covers.
A tactic that can often reap rewards when play resumes, is to lay the current leader or player who is playing better. It's fairly common for the player who was ahead or the player who was playing the best before the rain, to completely lose all the momentum they had on return. The player who was behind or losing momentum, will have time to speak to their coach, sort their head out and start over again with much more confidence. Players often take rather dubious medical time-outs when they are struggling, in order to re-set their mind and slow down the opponents momentum and it works time and time again. So this enforced, long break is a great opportunity for traders to also take advantage.
Could We Have A New Men's Champion For 2013?
You would have to say almost categorically no. Djokovic, Nadal and Murray will be the lead contenders for the crown and the only man I can see possibly upsetting them is another former champion - Juan Martin Del Potro. Federer continues to drop down the rankings (now 5th) and with all the talk of him failing to break in a new racquet, losing to Nadal again and having his poorest ever season, it's hard to see how he can possibly win.
After Wimbledon, I would not have given Nadal a prayer either. Up till then, he had not played any tennis on a fast court in 2013. You can point to the fact he won Indian Wells but it is the slowest hard court on the tour and suits his game. But seeing him win Montreal (defeating Djokovic in the semi final) and Cincinnati back to back, I'd put him right back in the mix. If he can keep this level up, he should be favourite right now. I have never seen Nadal play as aggressively as he did in Canada and the long time off since his early Wimbledon exit has clearly done him the world of good.
Djokovic on the other hand, is heading the opposite way. Since he beat Nadal in Monte Carlo back in April, he has not won a tournament and only made one final. He just cannot seem to find the form from the first half of the season and isn't turning around matches the way he was before. I don't see him as a value back for the US Open at all. As for Murray, he hasn't played much since Wimbledon (looking rusty in both his US Open Series losses) but you'd have to think he'll bring his A-game as holder of the title. I would not be as worried about backing him, as I would Federer or Djokovic. But it's Del Potro where the value perhaps lies. He won through a very tricky draw in Washington recently and has already beaten Murray and Djokovic this year. I think this could be his best chance yet to regain his only Grand Slam crown.
Outsiders To Watch In The Men's Draw
When looking at outsiders who might run deep, I immediately think of John Isner. He is currently second in the US Open Series Challenge and leads the American charge (albeit a weak one!) this year.
Ryan Harrison is the young American to watch out for. He's had very tough draws in recent US Opens and has suffered as such. But I always feel it's just a matter of time before he has a long run at his home slam and this could be the year, judging on recent form.
Over the border, Canada currently have two young prospects in hot form, in Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. Both reached the semi's in Montreal, with Raonic going on to lose to Nadal in the final. Both have huge serves and love these courts.
Other outsiders to watch out for are Australian Marinko Matosevic and South Africa's Kevin Anderson. Both have the obligatory big serve but have also improved immeasurably on their groundstrokes in recent times and will provide a stiff challenge to anyone outside the top 5. Both currently sit inside the top 10 of the US Open Series Challenge, as does Dimitry Tursunov who is in a rich vein of form right now too.
Odds To Win Men's US Open 2013
|J M del Potro||10.00||11.00||9.00||11.00||9.00|
Odds as at 20th August 2013.
Who Will Challenge Serena Williams?
With the women, I think there is a better chance of a new champion being crowned. Whilst Serena Williams will always be a clear favourite with the form she is in, she does continue to have at least one off-day in almost every tournament she enters, where she just cannot seem to focus and gets frustrated with herself. If she comes up against the wrong opponent (like she did when she lost the final to Stosur in 2011) she can be beaten. An incredible stat for this year, is that Williams has won every tournament she has entered and played in (8 titles, her best ever year) except for 4; Doha and Cincinnati last week (where she lost in the final to Azarenka both times) and 2 of the 3 Grand Slams (where she failed to make the semi final in Australia or Wimbledon). So it would appear that she is perhaps susceptible in Grand Slams and definitely susceptible to the Belarussian world number 2.
However, the form of other players that could challenge her is not great. Sharapova has been dumped out early in her last two tournaments (also dumping Jimmy Connors as coach after one match!) and has played only once since Wimbledon. Kvitova's disappointing year continues. Li Na's form is patchy. Radwanska withdrew from Cincinnati for personal reasons and her record against the top 3 remains atrocious. Marion Bartoli has retired.
One player who is looking very good during the US Open Series, is 2011 champion Sam Stosur. She's suddenly come alive, defeating Azarenka to win Carlsbad and looks a real danger. I personally don't see her winning but I'm sure she'll go far.
Cincinnati winner Victoria Azarenka is probably going to be the top challenger to Williams and at 5.80 on Betfair, I would take her for outright winner. I still expect Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na to be real threats though and at around 30, are worth a dabble.
Outsiders To Watch In The Women's Draw
It could be a year where we get a surprise semi finalist and there are a few women who could fit the bill. The American presence will be the strongest for many years and I feel there's a great chance at least one of their impressive youngsters will run deep. Sloane Stephens leads the charge but I really like the look of the gutsy Jamie Hampton.
For 18 year old Madison Keys, this could be a real breakthrough tournament too. Other non-American youngsters who are performing well right now include Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Toronto finalist Sorana Cirstea. Cirstea is in the form of her life and currently sits in the top 5 of the US Open Series Challenge. I also think Monica Puig could be one to watch, especially as she's likely to have good crowd support in New York, being Puerto Rican. Jelena Jankovic is having a renaissance on hard courts and along with in form Dominika Cibulkova, currently sits in the top 10 of the US Open Series Challenge.
As always, it's worth waiting for the draw to take place before backing anyone with a view to trade, although a favourable draw for any of the above will move their prices considerably (draw is made on Thursday August 22nd).
Odds To Win Women's US Open 2013
Odds as at 20th August 2013.
Looking for more US Open betting tips? Be sure to check our US Open Betting Tips Board throughout the tournament.
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And read more of his great work on his blog Centre Court Trading