2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, and the man he beat in last year’s final, Novak Djokovic, are among a host of leading contenders missing the tournament due to injury. Andy Murray is set to feature after working hard to overcome the hip problem that has kept him sidelined since Wimbledon, but after a long layoff and inconsistent season it is not surprising to see him rated at around the 8/1 mark. The Scot is definitely worth keeping an eye on, though, and if he looks fit and in-form in the first couple of rounds he will start to fancy his chances with so many of the top players out of action.
The stage is set for another showdown between legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have turned back time to dominate 2017. It is Nadal who has reclaimed the No.1 ranking, but his results have predictably dipped since the end of the clay-court season and it is not surprising that Federer is the favourite. Champion at Wimbledon for the eighth time in his career last month, Federer is playing with a freedom and confidence that makes him look almost unbeatable at times.
However, he was defeated in the final of the Montreal Masters recently by Alexander Zverev, the German youngster who is beginning to fulfil his potential even sooner than many envisaged. He has a complete game which is perfectly suited for hard courts, an appetite for the big occasion and a decent price of 8/1. He is likely to have to beat Nadal or Federer to make the final, but still looks worth backing Each Way.
Sports.net’s top tip:
The women’s draw once again looks extremely open in the absence of the pregnant Serena Williams, although Garbine Muguruza finally seems to have found some consistency after winning the Wimbledon title and the way she powered to victory in Cincinnati was an ominous sign for her rivals in New York. If she can keep the momentum going, she will be very difficult to stop.
Simona Halep’s humbling loss to Muguruza in Cincinnati showed that she perhaps lacks the firepower to win a Grand Slam on a hard court, while the same could also be true of in-form Caroline Wozniacki. Defending champion Angelique Kerber has had too poor a season to come into the tournament with any confidence, but Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and, to a lesser extent Britain’s Johanna Konta, will all be brimming with belief.
Maria Sharapova has been granted a wildcard following her return from a drugs ban but it would be a stunning feat for her to make her way through the draw unseeded. A better outside bet might be on Madison Keys, who beat Muguruza on the way to winning the recent Stanford Classic. She has a ferocious serve, will have terrific support from an American crowd and can be backed at 16/1.
Sports.net’s top tip:
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.