Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have a better chance to win the U.S. Open tennis championship than the other 126 players in the men’s draw combined, according to oddsmakers.
With the withdrawal of 2010 champion and 2011 runner-up Rafael Nadal, there’s a 55 percent chance Federer or Djokovic will be holding the winner’s trophy after the final point at the two-week tournament at the National Tennis Center in New York, said RJ Bell, the founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com.
The tournament begins today; Federer will face unseeded Donald Young of the U.S. in his first match.
Djokovic, of Serbia, is the defending champion and enters the season’s final major tournament as the favorite with 3-2 odds at the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. Federer, a Swiss right-hander who won five straight U.S. Open titles from 2004 to 2008 and is the No. 1 men’s seed, is the 9-4 second choice after winning Wimbledon.
Of tennis’s past 30 majors, 29 have been won by Federer, Djokovic or Nadal, with Juan Martin del Potro’s victory at the 2009 U.S. Open the lone exception.
After Nadal, of Spain, pulled out of the tournament last week because of injuries, del Potro of Argentina has the fourth best odds to win at 8-1, while Olympic champion Andy Murray of Britain is the third choice at 7-2. No other player in the men’s draw has odds of better than 25-1.
“I feel like the tournament is about three deep to win it, maybe four, that’s about it,” Brad Gilbert, who won 20 tournaments as a pro before becoming an ESPN tennis analyst, said on a media conference call. “That’s just kind of the way it is in the men’s. It’s obviously a little bit different this year with Nadal not in it.”
While Djokovic, 25, is the defending champion, 31-year-old Federer comes in with the most momentum.
After both players lost to Murray at the Olympics on the grass courts in London, Federer rolled past Djokovic in the final of last week’s hardcourt Masters series event in Cincinnati. Federer didn’t lose a set in the tournament.
“There is no doubt about it, beating Novak in a final makes it extra special,” said Federer, who last month at Wimbledon captured his record-extending 17th major title. “Even though I reached almost all goals already this year by securing a medal, winning Wimbledon, and getting back to world No. 1, it’s important for me to push forward.”
Serena Williams of the U.S. may be seeded only fourth in the women’s draw, yet the three-time U.S. Open champion is the 1-1 favorite among Las Vegas oddsmakers. Top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Maria Sharapova of Russia have 7-1 odds, followed by Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at 10-1.