STARNBERG, August 1, 2018
The actuaries behind the science of odds-setting are able to look at sports in a different way than fans and pundits. There is a sense of detachment in their work, a propensity towards the numbers ahead of any emotional factors.
When looking at the odds for the upcoming US Open an assumption is made that Novak Djokovic has been made favourite simply because he captured the Wimbledon title last month. However, bookmakers had, in fact, pencilled the US Open in as the most likely venue for Djokovic getting back to the top of his game for a while now. Several outlets had him as favourite to win at Flushing Meadows for a few months now.
At the time of writing – and these things can change, so click here for the updated odds from 888sport – Djokovic is priced at 11/4 to win the US Open. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are close behind at 7/2. There was, of course, some downward shit in Djokovic’s odds after Wimbledon, but not by a huge amount. The bookmakers will not be ruling out a challenge from Nadal, Federer or someone like Alexander Zverev (9/1).
Djokovic return to the top good for tennis
Regardless of the odds, a seemingly fully fit Djokovic is back at the top end of tennis and most of us would agree that it is a good thing for the sport as a whole. The 13-time Grand Slam winner brings something special to the tour and there is an audible buzz around the place when he takes to the court, especially against Federer or Nadal.
Most of the focus will, of course, go on the victory over Kevin Anderson and, indeed, the win in the epic semi-final win over Nadal. But it is the manner of Djokovic’s recovery – don’t forget he was on Centre Court against Nadal less than 24 hours before the final gut underway – that will lead us to believe the Serb is back to his best.
Tennis loves a subplot, so there has been a lot of chatter about Djokovic aiming to match Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, putting the Serb as joint-third on the all-time winners’ list. It’s not clear whether that record will be forefront of his mind. Indeed, he’ll probably be more concerned about staying injury free over the coming weeks.
Murray also on the comeback trail
Of course, Djokovic is not the only player who is taking steps upon the comeback trail. At the time of writing, Andy Murray is preparing to make another comeback, this time at the Washington Open. In fairness, Murray has suggested he is being smart about his hip injury and subsequent surgery, saying pulling out of last month’s Wimbledon was down to simply not ripe to play five set tennis matches.
Flushing Meadows may come around a bit too soon for Murray. Although, his undoubted quality is reflected in the 10/1 odds he has been given by 888sport to win his second title there. But it will be nice to watch him make his way back to fitness. Indeed, seeing him go up against Djokovic as they hunt down the world number one spot again could be something special. Perhaps even one last push to the top among tennis’ fabled Big 4 will be on the cards over the next year?