US Open predictions and betting tips

andrew hendrie:

The 2020 US Open takes place in New York from 31 August-13 September 2020 but in this most unpredictable of tennis seasons, who will be crowned champion at Flushing Meadows?

US Open 2020 predictions

We knew it was going to be a US Open like no other, but we didn’t know that in addition to being played behind closed doors with players ensconced in a bio-security bubble, it was going to see the crowning of a new men’s Grand Slam champion.

With defending champion Rafael Nadal, five-time winner Roger Federer and 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka all not playing for different reasons, 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic was the overwhelming favourite – even more so when he was the only major winner left in the draw by the fourth round, with Andy Murray and Marin Cilic going out.

Now there are no Grand Slam champions left in the main draw, because Djokovic was defaulted on Sunday night because, at 5-6 in the first set of his match with Pablo Carreno Busta, he struck a ball out of play in frustration which hit a lineswoman in the throat.

This means that a new men’s Grand Slam champion is guaranteed, with Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem among the favourites to win their first major.

On the women’s side, six of the WTA’s top 10 including defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty did not enter the US Open. But as the tournament enters its second week, six-time champion Serena Williams and 2018 winner Naomi Osaka still head the favourites.

One thing is for certain: The 2020 US Open will stand out as one of the most unusual editions of the tournament to be played since its inception in 1881. But what can we predict about how the US Open might play out? We break down the men’s and women’s draws and predict the winners of each quarter, the singles finalists and the eventual US Open champions.

US Open Men’s Final: Alexander Zverev vs Dominic Thiem

For the first time in six years, a Grand Slam final features none of the Big Four. Last time it happened, Marin Cilic was crowned US Open champion after beating Kei Nishikori in a one-sided final. What will happen when Sascha Zverev (16/5 @ 888Sport) and Dominic Thiem (1/4 @ SkyBet) clash on Sunday?

It’s got to be said: It doesn’t look good for Zverev. First, there’s the experience factor. This is his first major final; it’s Thiem’s fourth. Twice the Austrian has finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open, and he came close against Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final this January; he’s primed to win one.

Zverev, not so much. There are certainly Grand Slams in the German’s future, or there should be. But the way that he has competed in both the quarterfinals and semifinals does not demonstrate a player who believes this is his time. Against Borna Coric, he played an abysmal, double-fault riddled first set, and might never have come back to win had his opponent not also been very nervous and struggling to seize opportunity. Against Pablo Carreno Busta, he was dreadful for two sets and never really raised his level above average.

In contrast, Thiem’s last few matches have shown us a player only getting better as the stakes get higher. He thumped Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur in straight sets, and his aggressive approach against Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals – a match which many picked Medvedev to win – rocked the Russian back on his heels.

Then there’s the head-to-head, which Thiem leads 7-2. Zverev’s wins came in Beijing in 2016, and in the Madrid Masters final in 2018; Thiem has won the last three, including beating Zverev in four sets in the Australian Open semifinals in January. In fact, two of their three best-of-five matches have seen Zverev take the first set before losing in four. Based on the way he started his matches against Coric and Carreno Busta, I don’t think even that is on the cards for Zverev on Sunday.

US Open Women’s Final: Naomi Osaka vs Victoria Azarenka

This could be a thrilling US Open final, featuring two women who have both been there before – 2018 champion Naomi Osaka and 2012-13 runner-up Victoria Azarenka.

Osaka (8/13 @ William Hill) has won both Grand Slam finals she has played in, beating Serena Williams at the US Open and Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open in 2019. She is now on a 10-match winning streak, with her only ‘loss’ since returning from shutdown the walkover she gave Azarenka in the Western & Southern Open final.

Against a series of in-form players – Anett Kontaveit, Shelby Rogers and Jennifer Brady in the semifinal, who played an incredible match and never stopped forcing Osaka to produce her best tennis – Osaka has been seemingly relaxed, positive, and able to dominate with her blend of big serve, explosive shotmaking and athleticism.

Azarenka (6/4 @ SkyBet) is playing her first Grand Slam final in seven years, and many thought that after the way the past few years have played out for her, she would never get back to one. The Belarusian, who has a career 20-16 record in WTA Tour-level finals (Osaka is 5-2) has suddenly turned the clock back in the past three weeks to her absolute best. Against Serena Williams in the semifinals, Azarenka showed how a player without overwhelming power to her name could dictate play against a more explosive hitter; hugging the baseline, taking the ball unbelievably early and redirecting it to the corners time after time with pin-point precision, running Serena ragged, stinging her down the lines, letting the initial firestorm of the American wash over her without damaging her self-belief.

There isn’t a great deal of data in the head-to-head to draw on in this one. Osaka leads the head-to-head 2-1, but their matches the last two years have been on clay, neither woman’s best surface, and Azarenka was not playing anything like she is right now. Ultimately, well-controlled power will always beat counterpunching; Osaka also shouldn’t fade physically like Williams did. I believe the Japanese-Haitian player will win and collect her second US Open title – but not without Azarenka making her work very hard for that win.

US Open 2020 tournament information

Name: US Open
Location: New York, USA
Venue: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Dates: 31 August-13 September 2020
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Hardcourt
Draw size: 128 singles
Most titles:
Men – Roger Federer, Jimmy Conners, Pete Sampras (5)
Women – Serena Williams, Chris Evert (6)
Reigning champions:
Men’s singles – Rafael Nadal
Women’s singles – Bianca Andreescu

U.S. Open player performance

Who are the best-performing male players at the U.S. Open?

PlayerTitlesFinals2019 resultWin-loss
Roger Federer5 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)2 (2009, 2015)QFs89-14
Rafael Nadal4 (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)1 (2011)Champion64-11
Novak Djokovic3 (2011, 2015, 2018)5 (2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016)R1672-11
Andy Murray1 (2012)1 (2008)Didn’t play45-12
Juan Martin del Potro1 (2009)1 (2018)Didn’t play35-9
Stan Wawrinka1 (2016)0QF44-13
Marin Cilic1 (2014)0R1636-10
Kei Nishikori01 (2014)R325-10
Kevin Anderson01 (2017)Didn’t play22-9
Daniil Medvedev01 (2019)Runner-up8-3

Who are the best-performing female players at the U.S. Open?

PlayerTitlesFinals2019 resultWin-loss
Serena Williams6 (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)4 (2001, 2011, 2018, 2019)Runner-up101-13
Kim Clijsters3 (2005, 2009, 2010)1 (2003)Didn’t play38-6
Venus Williams2 (2000, 2001)2 (1997, 2002)R279-18
Svetlana Kuznetsova1 (2004)1 (2007)Didn’t play35-15
Sam Stosur1 (2011)0R122-14
Angelique Kerber1 (2016)0R125-11
Sloane Stephens1 (2017)0R119-7
Naomi Osaka1 (2018)0R1614-3
Bianca Andreescu1 (2019)0Champion7-0