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Old faces in New York: Living legends to dominate US Open

31 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Old faces in New York: Living legends to dominate US Open

The sustained excellence of tennis' modern-day greats should be admired and enjoyed at Flushing Meadows

There will be no surprise men’s champion at this year’s US Open.

The winner of the tournament will be Novak Djokovic (11/10), Roger Federer (4/1) or Andy Murray (7/2).

They are comfortably the three best players in the world right now – in that order.

This hierarchy was reinforced in the two precursory Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, where Djokovic reached both finals and was beaten by Murray and Federer respectively.

Despite those losses, the Serbian remains the man most likely to triumph in New York.

It would be remiss to suggest otherwise.

The No. 1 seed has reached the final of his last 10 events – winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in the process – and has won at Flushing Meadows before, overcoming Rafael Nadal during his glorious 2011 season.

A runner-up two times since, Djokovic will believe he is overdue another triumph.

That would take him into double figures for Grand Slams and continue his ascent up the list of all-time greats of the game.

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But there are reasons as to why the 28-year-old has been unable to win this tournament multiple times.

The most obvious one is the combination of the schedule and unforgiving hard-court surface, which is widely acknowledged to be the most punishing of the season.

Djokovic chooses his calendar carefully in an attempt to stay fresh, but the strain of competing in endless high-pressure matches – his galling defeat to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open, namely – inevitably begins to be felt in the season’s final third.

The conditions on the East Coast, meanwhile, can often be blustery and autumnal.

While in no way uncomfortable, it is not unreasonable to say Djokovic doesn’t relish those conditions as much as, say, Murray.

Not many do.

The Scot is probably the most adept wind player in the sport, thriving on using his tactical mastery and imagination to navigate ever-changing conditions and hoodwink his opponent.

Murray is certainly performing well enough to win the third slam of his career.

The 28-year-old overcame his opening-round exit at the Citi Open last month to enjoy his best US Open build-up since 2009 by winning in Montreal – beating Djokovic for the first time in more than two years to secure his fourth ATP title of the year – and reaching the semis in Cincy.

Murray loves playing in the Big Apple and is ideally poised to repeat his achievement of three years ago when he finally won one of tennis’ most-prestigious prizes for the first time.

To do this, though, he is likely to have to find a way past the time-defying Federer, who he hasn’t beaten since the 2013 Australian Open – a run that is comprised of five matches and an aggregate set score of 12-1.

The Swiss master is in irresistible form and probably playing the best tennis of his career.

That is remarkable feat for a man who recently turned 34 and has absolutely nothing left to prove or achieve in the sport.

In defeating Djokovic in 95 minutes and winning his seventh title in Cincy, Federer regained at the first time of asking the No. 2 ranking he lost to Murray, thus ensuring any prospective meeting against the top seed at the US Open will not take place until the final.

The 17-time slam winner will aim to take advantage of the fast courts by playing extremely aggressively – especially when returning – and getting to the net as much as possible.

The challenge for Federer, then, is to maintain that high-risk tennis over the course of potentially seven best-of-five-set matches.

That is far from easy for a player of advancing years.

The notorious weather delays, meanwhile, increase the likelihood of having to negotiate back-to-back matches in close proximity – an unhelpful prospect for a player who showed clear signs of fatigue when losing to Djokovic in Wimbledon final two months ago.

It is not disrespectful to dismiss the chances of Marin Cilic retaining the title he won so surprisingly 12 months ago.

Cilic was deserving of his success, but that result was an anomaly.

This year’s champion will be one of Djokovic, Federer or Murray – with the latter two probably considering the former the man to beat.

The list of winners on the women’s side, meanwhile, can be narrowed down to one.

Serena Williams – the 21-time major winner and world No. 1 – is chasing her fifth consecutive major and first calendar-year Grand Slam.

Should Williams (5/6) achieve it – and there is no reason to suspect the 33-year-old won’t after claiming her second ‘Serena Slam’ at Wimbledon – she will overtake the legendary Chris Evert for the most US Open wins of the Open Era (nine).

The American is achieving a sustained level of greatness that is unlikely to ever be repeated.

And like Djokovic – the pair are 4/1 to both win at Flushing Meadows – the dominance of Williams should be admired and enjoyed.

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