When the US Open begins on Aug. 31, many top tennis stars won’t be participating. But both Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will be in attendance, and each will have their eyes on capturing yet another Grand Slam title.
Sportsbooks see both Djokovic and Williams as the favorites in their respective draws, though they face very different paths to victory.
Djokovic Won’t See Top Rivals in Flushing
Djokovic will enter the US Open as the man to beat, no matter who’s playing this year. The 17-time Grand Slam winner has claimed three titles in New York, the last of which came in 2018.
But Djokovic’s standing has only improved with his main rivals out of the draw. Roger Federer underwent surgery earlier this year and isn’t ready to return yet, while Rafael Nadal decided not to play the US Open due to COVID-19 concerns.
US Open Favorites
|Novak Djokovic: -125||Serena Williams: +600|
|Dominic Thiem: +500||Naomi Osaka: +600|
|Daniil Medvedev: +650||Karolina Pliskova: +1000|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas: +1000||Sofia Kenin: +1100|
|Alexander Zverev: +1700||Petra Kvitova: +1400|
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Those factors have only made Djokovic a more overwhelming pick to win the US Open. FanDuel Sportsbooks lists the Serbian star as a -125 pick to win the title, far ahead of second choice Dominic Thiem (+500).
Despite dealing with a neck issue, Djokovic won his first match at the Western & Southern Open 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 over Ricardas Berankis on Monday. That match was also played at Flushing Meadows as the tennis world sets up a bubble ahead of the US Open. Djokovic has compiled a 19-0 record so far in 2020.
“I’m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,” Djokovic said of his neck. “It’s been like that for the past three or four days.”
Other male stars have also impressed at the Western & Southern Open. Daniil Medvedev advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday, while Andy Murray upset Alexander Zverev to show he can still compete with elite opponents. FanDuel lists Medvedev as a +650 third choice to win the US Open, while Murray remains a relative long shot at +4500.
Williams, Osaka Headline Depleted Women’s Draw
At 38 years old, Serena Williams doesn’t enter every tournament as the clear favorite anymore, though she’s always in the mix. But with most of the top women’s players opting out of the US Open, Williams has gained a golden opportunity to win her 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie the Open Era record of Margaret Court.
Williams struggled in her first match in the Western & Southern Open before dominating the third-set tiebreak to beat Arantxa Rus 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 7-6 (7-0).
“I did hit a wall today in the second set, I was so hot,” Williams said after the match. “I think physically, I’m fit. Tennis is mental. You know, it’s all mental.”
Williams (+600) currently shares favorite status for the US Open with Naomi Osaka (+600), with Karolina Pliskova (+1000) and Sofia Kenin (+1100) close behind. But a slew of contenders are skipping the event, including world No. 1 Ash Barty, defending champion Bianca Andreescu, and perennial favorites Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina.
The latest player to withdraw was 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian 23-year-old cited a scheduling change for her decision.