Wolf’s Best

Novak Djokovic @ $2.20

Like him or hate him, he just wins. I wasn’t that impressed with Djokovic’s form at Wimbledon, but saved match points in the Final against the GOAT in Federer to take the Championship. Has made the Final at Flushing Meadows in 7 of the last 8 years and the Semi Final stage in his last 11 appearances, and is easily the best hard court player in the game by a fair margin. Has won four of the last five Grand Slam titles, and looking at his draw you can pencil in five of the last six. The ultimate challenge, and the match everyone will be looking forward to will coming in the Quarter Finals when he faces in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev who just beat him in Cincinnati. Don’t tell me ‘Djoker’ hasn’t earmarked that match in the calendar already.

Next Best

Dominic Thiem @ $29

The clay-courter has a sneaky good record at the US Open. He would be over the moon with being the fourth seed, knowing he can avoid the big 3 until the Semi Finals, giving the Austrian an extremely friendly draw. If he can win his quarter, he’ll likely see Rafael Nadal in the Semi Final. The Austrian is well acquainted to seeing the Spaniard on the other side of the net, playing 13 times across their career including one of the best games of 2018 in the US Open Quarter Final where Nadal got through in a fifth set tie-break. Thiem’s got a 15-5 record at Flushing Meadows, and although he was ill and forced to withdraw from Cincinnati it could be a blessing in disguise. He’s had a demanding schedule across the year, and was probably due for a much needed break. Could face either Bautista-Agut or Kyrgios in the Quarters, and I think he’ll be too good for both of them. Knowing how Nadal’s body has the tendency to break down in the back end of the year especially on the hard courts, I think he’s a huge chance to upset the Spaniard in the Semis and reach his first US Open Final.

Rafael Nadal @ $4

Wasn’t so lucky to draw Federer in his half at Wimbledon, but will be thrilled to see Federer, Djokovic and Medvedev all in the top half. Will face US Open giant killer John Millman in the first round, who caused a huge upset last year beating Federer. Unfortunately I can’t see Millman doing the same thing this year against Nadal. I expect the Spaniard to cruise to the Quarters, where he’ll probably face Russian Karen Khachanov. The Russian troubled Nadal in the US Open last year, but I can’t see it happening again. Expect Nadal to reach either the Semis or Final, but certainly don’t take the $4 for him to win. As discussed in the Thiem preview, his body tends to breakdown in the backend of the season, especially on the hard courts, and even if he gets past Thiem he’s not touching Djokovic.

Roger Federer @ $8

Has not won the US Open since 2008, and has not won his quarter at Flushing Meadows in four of his last six appearances. His loss to Andrey Rublev in the lead-up was played down, but after a grueling Wimbledon campaign it’s quite possible that the 38-year-old may have run out of petrol tickets. He also played the clay season this year for the first time in a while, so it will be interesting to see how the Swiss legend plays here. In his favour is an extremely easy first week, with his first real test likely to come at the Quarter Final stage against Kei Nishikori. Unless Djokovic unexpectedly stumbles before the Semi Final stage, I can’t see Federer reaching the Final.

Value Bet

Roberto Bautista-Agut @ $67

The fact this bloke is the =13th favourite is laughable, especially when Alexander Zverev is at $34! RBA is in the easiest quarter of the draw, playing the best tennis on his career. At 31, he’s finally cracked the top ten for the first time in his career. Was sensational at Wimbledon, and his first two sets against Djokovic in the Semi Final were huge. Has enough hard court tennis under his belt in the lead-up, with his first real test likely to come in the fourth round against Nick Kyrgios, if the Australian can find his happy place in the first three rounds. He’ll avoid the big three until the Semi Finals if he can get that deep, where he’ll face Nadal. Look, he probably won’t win the US Open but the $10 to win his quarter is outstanding value.

Kei Nishikori @ $67

Has reached the Semi Final stage in three of his last four appearances at Flushing Meadows, including the Final in 2014. Has been unwell in the lead-up, but clearly enjoys the US Open surface based on recent performances. Will have some tough matches along the way, likely facing Australian Alex De Minaur in the third round, and Milos Raonic in the fourth – but I’m backing him in to win both of these games, especially with an injury cloud over Raonic. Should see Federer in the Quarter Final, where he will likely start at $3.50. Knowing how consistent the Japanese is, you may as well look at taking the $10 to win his quarter before he does go into $3.50 against Federer.

Draw

Quarter Finals

Djokovic def Medvedev
Federer def Nishikori
Thiem def Bautista-Agut
Nadal def Khachanov

Semi Finals

Djokovic def Federer
Thiem def Nadal

Final

Djokovic def Thiem

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