2018 US Open favourite Novak Djokovic will have to beat Roger Federer early if he is to win this year’s tournament, while defending champions Rafael Nadal appears to have a kind draw.
Federer has also been drawn in the same section as Nick Kyrgios and it is no surprise he has slipped to third favourite in the US Open’s men’s betting as his route to the final is tough.
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The second quarter is also stacked with talent, although former champion Andy Murray has played down his chances of going all the way as he continues his recovery from injury.
Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov are all in this section too, which helps to explain why none of those men appear to be particularly fancied by the bookmakers.
Nadal looks to have the best draw of the big hitters and the Spaniard has a great chance of going on to win the title for the second year in a row. He might just provide the best value in the draw, but which other players are worth considering?
We will discuss all that and much more in today’s in-depth 2018 US Open preview. Let’s start with a look at the outright odds from the best tennis bookmakers and then continue our discussion below.
2018 US Open Odds
|Juan Martin del Potro||14/1||14/1|
Few Tests Await in Nadal’s Quarter
It would be a huge shock if Nadal did not reach at least the quarter-finals as the top seed appears to have landed in the most straightforward section of the US Open men’s draw.
Nadal opens up his title defence against another Spanish veteran in the form of David Ferrer, who has never really produced his best tennis on American hard courts, while neither Lukas Lacko or Vasek Pospisil would be expected to trouble the champion in the second round.
Karen Khachanov would be more of a challenge in the third round, but Nadal would also be expected to come through that match. The other big seeds in the quarter are Kevin Anderson and Dominic Thiem and the South African should not be underestimated.
Anderson reached the final last year, losing to Nadal of course, but he will have to come through a third-round clash against either Denis Shapovalov or Sam Querrey if he is to earn the chance to earn revenge over the Spaniard.
Thiem is in poor form and the Austrian has rarely showed enough quality at major tournaments to suggest he is worth backing at even 66/1. Anderson is more of a temptation at the same price with some bookmakers, but Nadal at 3/1 is the obvious selection from the first quarter.
Del Potro to Emerge from Stacked Section?
The semi-finalist who will surely play Nadal to win the top half of the draw will have had to come through a very difficult series of matches, with Del Potro perhaps the best pick here.
The world number three has had more problems with his wrist in the build-up to the tournament but he has more than enough wins on his record to suggest he can handle the pain in New York.
Del Potro might have to beat Murray in the third round but it is asking a lot for the Scot to even get that far as he tests how far he can push his body on the route to a full recovery. Murray could face Fernando Verdasco in the second round and the wily Spaniard would be sure to give the former US Open champion a serious workout.
Dimitrov (66/1) and Wawrinka (40/1) meet in the first round in a repeat of their draw at Wimbledon, where it was the Bulgarian who came out on top.
Tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati have suggested Wawrinka is the man in the better form, though he would be pushed hard by Milos Raonic in the third round. Big-serving American John Isner, probably the main home hope in the draw, could then await in the fourth round as well.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (50/1) and Borna Coric (150/1) are two of the best young players on the tour and they have a chance of a decent run at the US Open, with the duo on track to meet each other for the right to likely play either Del Potro or Murray for a place in the quarter-finals.
At 16/1 it is clear the bookmakers believe Del Potro is the man to beat in this section, with the third seed hoping for a repeat of his victory in Flushing Meadows all the way back in 2009.
Zverev Given Best Chance to Break Through
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev could hardly have hoped for a more favourable series of matches but the young German’s troubles at Grand Slam events still count against him.
Priced up around the 11/1 mark by the majority of the bookmakers, Zverev’s draw really means he ought to be reaching the quarter-finals without being stretched too much. Zverev got to the last eight at the French Open but ran out of steam as a result of being taken into too many five-set matches and he will want to avoid a repeat of those exertions here.
A qualifier offers Zverev something of a gimme to open up with and either Jiri Vesely or Corentin Moutet will be awaiting in the second round, neither of whom should offer too tough a test. Filip Krajinovic is his scheduled opponent in the third round, while the draw suggests Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman will come through their sections to face Zverev for a place in the quarters.
But it is a player in the bottom half of this quarter who is of the most interest in the betting, as Marin Cilic can be backed at a very tempting price of 20/1 to win the US Open title.
Marius Copil is a talent who should give Cilic a decent workout in the first round, with the Croatian given some awkward obstacles in his route to the quarter-finals, with the likes of Pablo Cuevas Adrian Mannarino and David Goffin potentially in his way.
Seeded seventh, Cilic ought to reach the quarters and his experience could well count for a lot should he play Zverev for a place in the last four.
Federer and Djokovic on Collision Course
The bottom quarter probably holds the most interest, at least for casual fans, as Federer should play Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Of course both men have to make sure they get that far first, with Benoit Paire having the talent to give the veteran Swiss a difficult match in the second round.
Kyrgios certainly has the ability to make a splash in an event such as the US Open but the Australian continues to struggle to manage his temper and Federer should beat him easily.
Nothing too dramatic awaits Djokovic prior to Federer, with the draw pitting either Pablo Carreno Busta or Lucas Pouille against him in the fourth round, as long as they progress as expected.
It is all set for Federer to face Djokovic in a blockbuster encounter in the quarter-finals, with the bookmakers expecting the Serbian to be the man who comes out on top.
A price of just 5/2 to claim the US Open crown for the first time since 2015 reflects the fact that Djokovic is extremely hard to beat when he is fully fit and firing.
Federer’s last US Open title came back in 2008, when he completed the last of a series of five successive victories in the competition. He has only been to the final twice since then, so even at 6/1 that record could just put fans off from backing the all-time great.
2018 US Open Men’s Best Bets
Djokovic’s status as the favourite is hard to argue with, but a price of 5/2 is short considering the fact he has landed in the same section of the draw as Federer.
He should come through his half of the draw though and the bookmakers are fairly sure he will take on Nadal a week on Sunday for the trophy.
Given he has a more comfortable draw, Nadal at 3/1 may prove slightly better value than Djokovic but those odds are still short, even for the defending champion.
Those seeking longer odds have a few different options to consider but the best of the lot looks to be Cilic, who is a very dangerous player at a price of 20/1.
And anyone who wants to take a real gamble could take on Coric each way at 150/1. Many believe he is a future multiple major winner and his draw offers a chance to go deep here.