Tennis’ fourth and final major of the year is here. The tour heads to Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York, for the U.S. Open. The crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium is definitely in for a treat this year with at least a couple of names that missed last year’s tournament, including 22-time Grand Slam leader Rafael Nadal and Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who has been working his way back from injury. One player who won’t be in attendance is three-time U.S. Open champion and former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who will be missing his second major due to his vaccination status.
The ATP draw is a wild one, and it's anyone’s tournament. Here’s a look at BetMGM's current favorites to win men’s singles:
Daniil Medvedev +260
Rafael Nadal +400
Carlos Alcaraz +550
Nick Kyrgios +800
Stefanos Tsitsipas +1200
Breaking down the draw
Each quarter is a head-scratcher. In the first quarter, you have world No. 1 Medvedev, Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios, and Canadian Open Masters 1000 winner Pablo Carreno Busta. It’s a chalk play, but I like Medvedev to come through his quarter, which would be my best bet for the U.S. Open.
Here's my reasoning for backing Medvedev to win Quarter 1 (+140).
Taking a flier on Stefanos Tsitsipas
The Greek God headlines the second quarter of the men’s draw, which features Norway’s Casper Ruud and American Taylor Fritz. Tsitsipas doesn't have the best U.S. Open record, going 5-4 overall in his career. The furthest he’s advanced is losses in the Round of 32 against 19-year-old Alcaraz last year and Cincinnati Masters winners Borna Coric the year before. Could there be value in grabbing him to win? Yes.
He’s made changes in his game, and I like the changes he’s made. Not only has Tsitsipas been playing more focused, but he’s added more variety to his style of play, which is what led to his third win over Medvedev in 10 attempts last week in Cincinnati. He played a great match, implementing the slice, drop shot and lob. It really looks like Mark Philippoussis has been a great addition to his team. Unfortunately, Tsitsipas then had a straight-set loss to Coric, but that was a bad matchup immediately after a big mental win. If Tsitsipas continues with this newfound confidence and style of play, then he has a pretty friendly path to at least the quarterfinal.
A potential quarterfinal matchup against either Ruud or Fritz could be in the cards, followed by a potential semifinal match against Medvedev. This is the tricky part of his path, but the wager I like is Tsitsipas to reach the final (+600) as opposed to +1200 to win the tournament.
Third-quarter chaos, featuring Carlos Alcaraz
If you followed my previous advice, then you are holding a future ticket on Alcaraz to win the U.S. Open at 8-1.
It sure beats the current price of 5.5-1, but, unfortunately, Alcaraz does not have an easy path. The third quarter is anyone’s to take. Between Halle champion Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner (Alcaraz has lost his last two matchups to Sinner), and Coric, it’s a fun quarter to sweat as a fan — perhaps not as much as a bettor. The value play is backing Coric at 6-1 to win the third quarter.
There’s a chance for Carlitos to face Coric in the third round and in this part of the draw, Coric is definitely a threat. Not only has Coric been playing superb tennis of late, but his style as a counter puncher can annoy any opponent. The former world No. 12 can redirect power, which is his bread and butter. A counterpuncher uses your pace against you. Think of players like Djokovic and David Goffin. Players who aren’t counterpunchers are Nadal, Thiem, Stan Wawrinka, and Alcaraz, who generate their own pace. The counterpuncher is always a threat, and the stamina of these players is high, which bodes well for a medium-paced surface like the U.S. Open. Plus, Coric has reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open once in his career, losing to Alexander Zverev in 2020. There are no big servers in his quarter of the draw.
The path for Rafael Nadal to win his third major of the year
Nadal most definitely has a chance to win his fifth U.S. Open title to extend his record Grand Slam title total to 23. Rafa holds a 64-11 record at the U.S. Open and the last time he played the event was when he won in 2019. He has a friendly draw and likely won’t face a true challenge until a potential quarterfinal match against Cam Norrie, though Nadal holds a 4-0 record over him. It’s a friendly draw, but it is fair because he’s played just one hardcourt match post-Wimbledon, losing to Coric in Cincinnati, and he continues to battle injuries. Let’s not forget that Nadal withdrew from his semifinal match to Kyrgios at Wimbledon.
As a fan, I want Nadal to win. As a bettor, I want Nadal to win. If Nadal wins, we all would be deprived of a true Grand Slam in back-to-back years, with Djokovic failing to win the 2021 U.S. Open and Nadal withdrawing from Wimbledon this year.
Who will win the 2022 men’s U.S. Open?
The U.S. Open is tough to predict because the pool of players who can win really opens up with it being hardcourt and played later in the year. Eight months into the season, players' bodies are beaten and broken down. Injuries become a larger concern, fatigue plays a role, and weather conditions (heat and humidity) are a factor.
To me, Medvedev (+260) or Nadal (+400) will be winning the U.S. Open. Nadal has the most favorable draw of anyone, it’s just a matter of whether his body can hold up. He’ll likely play night matches, which helps his game because the pace will slow, and almost certainly the crowd will be on his side.
Medvedev has both the experience of winning a major, winning the U.S. Open last year, and the edge in a best-of-five with his return and baseline ability. This is a volatile tournament, and anyone else coming out on top wouldn’t be a shock, but the odds are correctly priced with Medvedev and Nadal at the top.