A topsy-turvy year culminates in the final major tournament of the season, as a wide open field of champions heads to Flushing Meadows, New York next month for the 2013 U.S. Open.
A different player has won each slam this year, leaving tennis prognosticators unsure as to who is the favorite at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Based off odds from Las Vegas experts at Bovada, Scotsman Andy Murray and Serb Novak Djokovic are both 7-to-4 favorites, while candidate for Player of the Year Rafael Nadal is right behind them at 7-to-1.
There is no question that Spain’s Nadal has been the most dominant player this season, amassing an outstanding 43-3 record. No. 4 Nadal also clinched a record eighth French Open title, the most times any one player has won a slam.
But his quick exit at Wimbledon earlier this month, and his propensity to wither on any surface other than clay may hold Nadal back. That’s all without mentioning the 27-year-old’s shaky knee that might not hold up on the hard court for the duration of the tournament. It seems Nadal has avoided the hardcourt this season, playing only five matches but winning all of them.
No. 2 ranked Murray is fresh off his Wimbledon final victory over Djokovic, and also has the added advantage of defending his U.S. Open title from last year. Murray has posted almost as impressive a record as Nadal, going 34-5, including a 4-1 mark in tournament finals this year.
Djokovic started the year off as the Australian Open champ, but his success in the later slam rounds has left the 26-year-old top ranked player searching for answers.
Djokovic was the last player to win more than one slam in the same calendar year back in 2011, when he won the Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. He also boasts a solid 15-5 mark in tiebreakers and a 20-2 record on hard court this season.
One certainty is the aforementioned players haven’t forgotten about tour legend Roger Federer.
Admittedly out of his prime production years, Federer has gone 30-9 this season and appeared in two finals in 11 tournaments this season. The 31-year-old is also 1-5 against top 10 opponents, and his 4-7 record when falling behind after the first set might be a sign that his legs just aren’t there anymore.
Federer’s quick second exit at Wimbledon and his poor showing in his home country of Switzerland earlier this week might be a cause for concern as well.
Still, he’s won five titles in Flushing Meadows, far more than the rest of his competition. Federer last won it all in 2008, when he didn’t lose a set until the fourth round when Igor Andreev took him to five sets. Federer would go on to beat Djokovic in the semis and Murray in the final.
When: The tournament will run from Monday Aug. 26 to Sept. 9
Predicton: Murray and Djokovic should coast through the field, and will likely meet in the finals. Nadal should get to the quarters before falling late, and the same goes for Federer. Look for Djokovic to claim his second slam of the year.