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Tennis underdogs and favourites of US Open

photo: Leonard Zhukovsky /

The US Open is one of the great tests of a tennis player’s ability both physically and mentally. Players who have already endured a long season of hard court, grass, and clay matches have to find it in themselves to push through one last hard court major. And with the big three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer comprising the list of tournament favorites, the underdogs in the tournament have to overcome historic talents. In spite of the hot weather and grueling obstacles in their way, these US Open underdogs may be poised to upset the big three and get themselves a major title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas has had an interesting 2019 season. He came out on fire during the early hard court and clay campaigns, but stumbled on the grass courts. He fell victim to one of the notable upsets of Wimbledon, dropping a first round five setter to Thomas Fabbiano before his tournament could get off the ground.

As a result of that upset, Tsitsipas is priced at 26.00 odds to win the US Open, which will be played on a hard court surface that he is much more comfortable with. He will be somewhat undervalued shortly after his loss to Fabbiano, with his odds likely to shorten if he can perform well during the American hard court swing that put his name on the map in 2018.

The question surrounding Tsitsipas will be how he handles the first major bit of adversity in his career. He outperformed expectations last season, making Wimbledon the first time he failed to live up to his top billing. Alexander Zverev has struggled in a similar position this year, and Tsitsipas will have to avoid falling into the trap. Fortunately, he has shown the ability to be resilient in the past, which should help him avoid further pitfalls.

Milos Raonic

Hard court season always has a player or two who can serve their way through a tournament, and Milos Raonic looks like the big server who is poised to make a run at a Grand Slam this year. Raonic has a strong grass season despite blowing a two set lead to Guido Pella at Wimbledon, and should be able to keep rolling despite that shocker against the Argentine who has had back to back deep runs at the All England Club.

Raonic will need to play well in the tournaments leading up to the US Open, where the hard courts are faster than they are in New York. Doing this will boost his ranking and potentially provide a more favorable draw heading into the year’s final major. With his home country’s Canadian Open on the way, expect Raonic to do just that.

For now, though, STS has Raonic at 34.00 to lift the trophy at Arthur Ashe Stadium when the US Open is completed. But expect those odds to get shorter if Raonic can delight the home crowd in Canada and follow it up with a respectable showing in Cincinnati.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori made his name as an elite player on the ATP Tour by grinding his way through a US Open. This tournament fits his style as a player very well, and could very well be won by a player like him if the big three of the sport aren’t able to cash in yet another major. And, for the first time in a long time, Nishikori appears to be healthy and ready for what has become one of his favorite tournaments to take part in.

What makes the US Open so Nishikori friendly is the fact that he is a grinder whose physical fitness doesn’t let him down when he is healthy. That becomes a necessity at the US Open, where the sweltering heat can turn even the toughest players into shells of their former selves. That shouldn’t be a problem for the number one Japanese player, who has shown no issues turning up the heat on opponents in conjunction with the temperature in Queens.

Heading into the summer hard court swing, Nishikori’s odds to win the US Open sit at 26.00. He is a decent value at that price given his track record of success at the tournament, assuming he can remain healthy enough to push through the tournament once again.

Stan Wawrinka

When it comes to hard court tennis, Stan Wawrinka isn’t a player you normally associate with success. But Wawrinka and grass court wins weren’t synonymous either before he picked up some wins at Wimbledon this year. Fighting back from years of injury woes, the Stanimal looks healthy and worth a serious glance as someone who can get back on top of the Grand Slam mountain.

Most of Wawrinka’s success has come on clay in his career, hence his odds of 34.00 to win the tourney after the completion of Wimbledon. But his ability to adapt his game for other surfaces could be what makes him a solid value play for the US Open.

Also working in Wawrinka’s favor is the fact that the courts in New York are some of the slower hard court surfaces on tour. That helps clay specialists like Wawrinka keep points going for longer, with his ability to move players from side to side being a major advantage. It may not be enough to win the tournament, but at his odds it is worth looking into.

Matteo Berrettini

One of the young, up and coming players on tour right now, Matteo Berrettini is looking poised to have a breakthrough at a major. The big serving Italian has been strong on all surfaces this year to earn a career high ranking inside the top 20, and he will be a seeded player at the US Open for the first time ever as a result.

What makes Berrettini dangerous is his ability to play long points in addition to bludgeoning players with his serve. His ability to exchange ground strokes with the defensive wizard Diego Schwartzman at Wimbledon was a thing of beauty, and makes his not yet being listed to win the US Open seem like a great bargain once odds are available for him.

Inexperience could come into play, as Berrettini won’t be used to being the favorite in Grand Slam matches quite yet. But if he can keep his nerves to a minimum, the Italian could put his name into the history books.

Denis Shapovalov

The odds for Denis Shapovalov to win the US Open are long, at odds of 34.00. But he is another player who has rallied to string wins together here in the past, making him a viable option to claim the tournament now that he is more experienced. The same summer as his deep run in 2017, El Shapo defeated Rafael Nadal in Canada, proving that he could beat anyone.

Since then, Shapovalov has been passed by fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime among other young players. But few of those young players have had the major success that Shapovalov has had, justifying a go on the Canadian as one of the most attractive long shots in the tournament. If he can recapture the magic he experienced here two years ago, he would pay his backers out handsomely and reignite the intrigue surrounding him in the process.

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