After a first-round exit at the Olympic Games and a surprise third-round loss at Wimbledon, one has to wonder the status of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic heading into the U.S. Open?
The Serbian has been the dominant force in tennis for most of the last two years, winning three of the four major titles in 2015 and completing a “Novak Slam” by winning his four straight major title at Roland Garros in June. However, since then Djokovic has shown vulnerabilities that will affect his online tennis betting odds at the U.S. Open.
After winning his second straight Olympic singles gold medal in Rio – a first in tennis history – Andy Murray is seen as Djokovic’s main rival in New York. Murray is also primed with the confidence of winning a second Wimbledon title in July.
Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics and eventually earning the silver medal, seems back in the form that lead him to the 2009 U.S. Open title. However, he is ranked No. 141 in the world and did not gain direct entry into the U.S. Open. He will need a wild card entry from the tournament or be forced to win three qualifying matches the week before the main draw. Exhaustion – physical and mental from his Rio efforts – could also affect him in New York.
Monica Puig was the sensation of the women’s Olympic tennis competition becoming the longest shot winner of the gold medal in women’s singles with a rank of No. 34. She posted stunning upsets of No. 4 Garbine Muguruza and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova en route to the final where she hit an incredible 54 winners to upset world No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match. Puig will likely not be emotionally ready to contend for a major title in New York, but Muguruza, Kvitova and Kerber will be favored to go deep in the draw. Serena Williams, the world No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medal winner, was a shock upset victim in the third round in Rio by the hands of Elina Svitolina from Ukraine. She seemed stricken with a should problem that affected her famous powerful serve – as well as being under the weather – and, if healthy – will be motivated to win another U.S. Open title where she would eclipse Steffi Graf’s Open Era record with 23 major singles titles.
Two Wimbledon titles. Two Olympic Gold Medals. How about two U.S. Opens for Andy Murray?
The Scotsman won his second Olympic Gold Medal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil beating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the gold medal match to become the first singles player in Olympic history to win two gold medals – and repeat as champion. The Olympic gold medal for Murray comes on the heels of him winning his second Wimbledon singles title in July.
He now heads to New York as a betting favorite for the U.S. Open, the site of his first major singles title in 2012.
Murray has won his last 18 singles matches – not losing since the French Open final to Novak Djokovic and since he rehired former coach Ivan Lendl, himself a three-time U.S. Open champion. It is his longest winning streak of his professional career.
After being the dominant force in men’s tennis for much of the last three years, Djokovic has shown chinks in his game after a surprising third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and an opening-round loss to del Potro at the Olympics. However, redemption is a motivator for the Serbian as he looks to win in New York for a third time.
The U.S. Open women’s singles event may also be a battle for the No. 1 ranking with Serena Williams seeking to hold off the challenge of world No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams had trouble with her health and her shoulder in her upset loss to Elina Svitolina in the third round at the Olympics that could hamper her in New York. Despite her upset loss to upstart Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match in Rio, Kerber could counter-punch her win to a second major singles title of the year after her win over Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the French Open champion, may also contend in New York, but has struggled since achieving her new status in the tennis world order in Paris.
With the Olympics proving to be a physical and emotional drain for many athletes who competed, a dark horse could also emerge in either the men’s or women’s field and win a first major singles title. New top 10 stars Dominic Thiem of Austria and Milos Raonic of Canada, the Wimbledon finalist, may be fresh enough to make a mark at Flushing Meadows. Romania’s Simona Halep, who also skipped Rio, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, a first-round loser at the Olympics, may also be ready to break through in New York. Madison Keys of the United States, who finished a painful fourth in Rio, is moving fast up the rankings and may be fueled by her disappointment in not winning a medal in Rio into Grand Slam success in New York.
The Olympics have tried, rather unsuccessfully, to compete with the Grand Slams, this despite the fact that Tennis is an original Olympic Sport. While everyone loves Olympic gold medals, Trophy silverware has always been far more prestigious. As such it is hardly surprising that the best tennis players are not particularly enthused by the idea of playing in the Olympics, with online tennis betting odds firmly in the favor of the annual quartet of majors.
Players like Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Feliciano Lopez have already announced that they won’t be flying to Rio for the Olympics. Maria Sharapova (Five-time Grand Slam winner) has suggested that she would go if her two-year-long drug ban wasn’t in place.
While the London games managed to maintain an aura of the Grand Slams, probably because they were staged on Wimbledon Courts, the Game in Rio couldn’t possibly muster such prestige.
The controversy surrounding the Zika virus outbreak gives a lot of athletes the excuse the need to bail from the Olympics. Though, Sam Querrey chose to go the honest route, admitting that he didn’t think sports like Golf and Tennis should be Olympic Sports in the first place.
Martina Navratilova said something similar when she opted out of Seoul, though John McEnroe admitted later on that he regretted bailing on the Seoul Olympics.
The only thing most top-tier players can see right now is the U.S Open at the Flushing Meadows, fast approaching at the end of August. For those most renowned Tennis players, the Rio games have nothing to offer, no better than all-star games, especially when you consider the potential for injury.
Of course, not everyone is so jaded about the sport, with the likes of Andre Agassi (who won gold in 1996) having been stirred by the spectacle of the biggest show on earth. Olympics fans might also have the opportunity to see Rafael Nadal represent Spain in Rio, though others might mourn over Roger Federer’s decision to withdraw.
But Federer needs to time to recover from a surgical procedure, so his decision doesn’t exactly say anything about his opinion on the Olympics. Andy Murray, on the other hand, has seen success at the Olympics and he will seek to maintain the momentum he built four years ago.
Murray believes that Tennis is definitely an Olympic sport and he has admitted to cherishing every moment he spent on the court during the London Games.
For Djokovic, the idea of not going to the Olympics is ridiculous, the Tennis superstar determining to redeem his previous Olympics failures in Rio. Despite the lack of interest amongst elite players from a number of countries, the United States is putting their best foot forward, sending a team of 12 to the Olympics led by the Williams sisters.
The Sisters have tasted success at the Olympics before and they would like to win every medal possible for their nation this time round. There are several other major players who have refused to allow Zika Virus fears to keep them away from Rio, the likes of Eugene Bouchard, Angelique Kerber, and Petra Kvitova determining to afford the Olympic games the respect they deserve.
by Kevin Craig
Sam Querrey was able to fend off a roaring comeback effort from Novak Djokovic on Saturday at Wimbledon, pulling off a massive upset in the third round.
The American won the match, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5), to reach his first fourth round at a major since 2010.
“It’s incredible, especially here at Wimbledon, the biggest tournament in the world. I’m so ecstatic right now, so happy,” said Querrey.
Querrey, the No. 41 player in the world, raced out to a two-set lead on Friday thanks to a top-notch performance and a bit of indifference from Djokovic, who had won 30 consecutive matches at the majors.
In the early goings, Querrey looked to be up to the task of playing the current holder of all four major titles as he used his serve and big ground strokes to dictate play. That style of play earned him the first set win in a tiebreak as he proved to the crowd, and more importantly himself, that he could win this match.
Querrey, who hit 31 aces in the match, carried that momentum over into the second set, going up an early break on Djokovic, who, at that point, looked like he had no interest in being on the court. In what seemed like just a few minutes, the American had taken the set 6-1 as his level of play never dropped, and found himself just one set away from the biggest win of his career.
It was at that point that the rain came and play had to be stopped for the day. This was not a new situation for the No. 1 player in the world though, as Djokovic found himself down two sets to Kevin Anderson in the fourth round of last year’s Wimbledon before coming back to win the match and eventually the title, so many believed he would be able to pull off a similar feat again.
That looked to be the case early on Saturday as the match resumed and the 12-time major champion quickly found himself up 4-0 in the third set. Alas, the rain had come again and stopped play. After a brief break, the two came back on court and Querrey looked to have risen slightly closer to the level of play he had on Friday, getting a break back and forcing Djokovic to feel some pressure before he was able to force a fourth set.
“I was ready for that,” said Querrey of Djokovic’s quick start on Saturday. “You knew he was mentally tough and that he was going to come back.”
That strong close to the third set allowed Querrey to carry some momentum into the fourth, where he put on a fight for the ages. The 6’6” American was able to fight off 11 of 12 break points he faced throughout the set, thanks, in part, to the 15 aces that he hit in the fourth set alone.
That one break point that Querrey didn’t save, though came at 4-4 all, giving Djokovic an opportunity to serve to force a fifth set. The Serb played a few loose points in that game, though, giving Querrey a look at two break points to get back on serve. The American was able to convert on the second one before holding for a 6-5 lead, putting himself just one game away from the win.
“I played the break points really well. I was able to come up with a big serve when I needed it,” said Querrey.
He would have to wait for that opportunity to win, though, as rain began to fall again, forcing the players off the court. After another break, the players returned to a raucous crowd waiting to see if the world No. 1 would fall.
When play resumed, Djokovic held at love to force a tiebreak, bringing the match to peak levels of intensity. The Serb was able to earn an early mini-break advantage thanks to a couple glaring mistakes from Querrey, but the roles quickly reversed as Djokovic became the one making errors.
Querrey, after winning a point on Djokovic’s serve, found himself up 6-4 with two match points.
Djokovic saved the first before a long rally ensued at 6-5, which ended with a ball flying wide off the racquet of Djokovic, another error, giving Querrey the massive win and a spot in the round of 16.
“Taking it one round at a time,” said Querrey when asked how far he thought he could go in the tournament. “Just be happy with this and look forward to the next round.”
Querrey will take on Nicolas Mahut in the fourth round as both will look to reach their first quarterfinal at a major.
With the third Grand Slam of the tennis season getting underway in South West London this week, Wimbledon and the upcoming US Open provide Novak Djokovic with the opportunity to become the first man in the history of the men’s game to win a calendar Grand Slam. The Serbian world number one has achieved success at the Australian Open and French Open so far in 2016, and will be looking to write himself into the record books with further victories this summer.
Djokovic is seeded one for Wimbledon, and as he hunts for his fourth title on the grass in London, the Serbian still believes that there is room for improvement in his game. This will certainly be ominous news for his closest rivals, with bookmakers Coral offering Djokovic as the favourite over the next two weeks with tennis betting odds of 8/11 Of course, we cannot talk about Wimbledon without mentioning home favourite and 2013 winner Andy Murray. With another day, another Murray story makes the headlines, and the Scot heads to Wimbledon having achieved the perfect preparation with another title at Queens, under his new coach for the second time, Ivan Lendl. Murray is the 5/2 second favourite with Coral, with Roger Federer and Milos Raonic at 11/1 and 12/1 respectively to upset the world’s current top two.
Meanwhile, August sees the return to action of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, with the world’s best players battling it out under the lights in New York. Djokovic will be looking to defend his title from last year, and with it possibly achieve the calendar Grand Slam. As a result, Coral offer Djokovic tennis betting odds of 10/11, with Murray once again the second favourite at 4/1. With Rafa Nadal missing Wimbledon due to injury, the Spaniard will be hoping to recover in time to take part in New York, where he is currently 16/1 with Coral to win his third US Open title.
Having failed to win a Grand Slam title since 2012, Federer will be looking to hit back in the best way possible at critics who have written off the 34-year-old over recent years. The Swiss maestro certainly loves the grass of Wimbledon, and it will take a brave man to bet against the seven-time champion reaching the latter stages once again this year.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic was able to complete the “Novak Slam” on Sunday as he defeated Andy Murray for his first French Open title after four runs to the final, and he now has won all four major titles consecutively.
The Serb was able to withstand an early onslaught from the Brit, who many believed to be the favorite in the match, and eventually won in four sets by a score of 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, giving Djokovic his 12th major title and making him the first player to simultaneously own all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969.
“It was flawless tennis. I really felt like I played on a high quality,” said Djokovic.
The Serb, so excited to win that one major title that had remained out of his grasp throughout his career, called it “a thrilling moment. One of the most beautiful I have had in my career.”
Djokovic, who had beaten Murray in 12 of their past 14 matches, attacked first, breaking at love to open up the match before Murray turned the tables. Two breaks in a row with a hold at love in between gave Murray a 3-1 lead, and he didn’t look back from there as not much went against serve from that moment on. Three holds later and Murray was two sets away from his third major title.
“Nerves kicked in. I needed a little bit of time to really find the right rhythm and start to play the way I intended,” said Djokovic.
The No. 1 player in the world wasn’t going to go down that easy, though, and the second set was all his as he was able to find that right rhythm. After saving a break point in the first game of the set, Djokovic completely dominated. Murray was broken in two of his three service games, and the one in which he was not broken he fought off a break point and was taken to deuce. The Serb also only lost three points total in his last three service games, completing the recipe of how to win a set 6-1.
The third set was more of the same as Djokovic broke Murray twice. There was more difficulty on serve in the set for the Serb as he lost at least two points in each of his service games, while being taken to deuce twice. In one of those deuce games, Djokovic staved off four break points, making the statement that he would not be missing out on another opportunity to win his first French Open.
With a break to open up the fourth set, Djokovic had all but finished off the No. 2 player in the world. After losing only one point on serve total in his next three service games and taking Murray to deuce twice, Djokovic earned a 0-40 lead at 4-2 and capitalized on his first opportunity to break and set up a chance to serve for the title.
The Brit was able to show some signs of life as he broke Djokovic and consolidated his serve to extend the match, but it just delayed the inevitable. In the next game, Djokovic was able to hold to close out the match, finally earning the right to call himself a French Open champion.
“In the last point, I don’t even remember what happened…it’s like my spirit left my body” said Djokovic.
With this title, the 29-year old has become just the eighth man in history to complete the career grand slam, solidifying his right to be in the conversation of the greatest tennis players of all time.
by Kevin Craig
Andy Murray dethroned the defending French Open champion Stan Wawrinka on Friday with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win.
Murray, who became the first player from Great Britain to reach the French Open in 79 years after Bunny Austin did so in 1937, played an almost perfect match as he reached his first French Open final and his 10th major final overall.
“I played one of my best matches here today,” said Murray in his post-match interview on court.
The No. 2 seed Murray, who had to battle from a two sets to love deficit in the first round against Radek Stepanek and a two sets to one deficit to a French wild card in the second round, has been able to gain confidence throughout his run to the final and return to the form that saw him win the title in Rome just before the French Open began.
That form from Murray was at peak levels on Friday against a player who reached his own peak levels of form in the French Open final in 2015 as Wawrinka put on a masterclass performance to snatch the title and the calendar grand slam from Novak Djokovic last year.
When Wawrinka, who was on a 12-match win streak at Roland Garros, held at love and forced Murray to take 11 minutes to hold his first service game, it looked like things may very well be in the favor of the Suisse in the early stages. This may not have been surprising at all to fans of Wawrinka as he had won his last three matches against Murray and had never lost a set to him on clay.
That feeling quickly changed though as Murray was able to save a break point before breaking Wawrinka in the next game, eventually leading 3-1.
The rest of the set was pretty straight forward until Murray served to close out the set as he was forced to fend off three break points before taking the one set lead.
It was all Murray in the second set as he broke Wawrinka at love for a 2-1 lead before breaking again two games later, eventually closing out the set 6-2, losing just three points on serve in the set that lasted only 27 minutes.
Murray continued to roll on serve in the third set, holding at love in his first three service games. The problem for the Brit was he was unable to convert the one break point he saw in the set, and Wawrinka was able to take advantage of the first poor service game Murray played since the beginning of the match, fighting back from 40-15 and winning four points in a row to break and win the set.
Wawrinka stealing the third set just delayed the inevitable as Murray’s roll went right over that minor speed bump as he was able to break in the first game of the fourth set. Murray had zero trouble on serve in the fourth set, losing just four points in four games, including a hold at love to close out the match and clinch his spot in the final.
“Stan has been unbelievable the last two years. I’ve played one of my best matches today…I’m just really proud. I never expected to reach the final here…Hopefully I can put up a good match in the final,” said Murray.
Murray’s impressive fitness level and ability to hit effective groundstrokes from anywhere on the court were on full display, as he looks like he can pose a very dangerous threat to Djokovic in this year’s final.
The second Grand Slam of the year has started – and there‘s a big buzz about the victor-to-be already. Will we continue to see the same legendary players snatching their consecutive titles, or could we hope for a bit of fresh air in terms of a new star? Let‘s take a look at who‘s the most likely to win French Open.
A Debut Title for Djokovic?
While it may sound hardly likely that any title could be a first for a player like this, all tennis fans know that the only Grand Slam that Djokovic is yet to win is Roland Garros. He managed to go to the finals thrice – and was defeated by Rafael Nadal in 2012 and 2014 and by Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Could this finally be his year?
According to the UK-licensed bookie TonyBet, it absolutely can: the odds for his outright win are 1.80, which is way ahead of anyone else. It’s only fair, too, as the world’s #1 has double the points that #2 Murray managed to collect, and he’s been in incredible form for a ridiculously long time.
Djokovic started off his season with a sixth Australian Open title, and while he did have a blip in his performance when he lost to Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo, it seems to have gone away. He won Madrid Masters against Murray and even though the Scot managed to then stop him in Rome finals, the Serb remains a powerful contender.
Could Rafael Nadal Make a Phoenix Comeback?
If Djokovic seems to have disproportional amounts of trouble at French Open, Nadal is the exact opposite. He’s got nine titles, of which four and then five were consecutive, although Rafa did struggle last year and only went through to the QF. If there’s a Grand Slam he can rule though, it’s this one: can we expect the old Nadal back?
The TonyBet bookies think that he’s got a fair shot at this as they’ve given him the odds of 4.75 at winning his tenth Roland Garros. The world’s #5 has been having struggles with his form since 2014 when he suffered an injury, and his first Grand Slam of 2016 ended in the first round.
However, since then he’s managed to win Monte Carlo and Barcelona, although he did lose to Murray in Madrid Master’s SF and to Djokovic in Rome’s QF. Nadal seems to have gained at least some of his form back, and the upcoming tournament will really be a good show of that. And who knows – maybe he’ll finally win another Grand Slam title!
Andy Murray to Keep Climbing?
The Scottish player had a pretty good season last year – even though he didn’t bring home any Grand Slam titles, his form was pretty good and he managed to push Britain’s national team to the first Davis Cup trophy in 79 years. Could Murray go on to win his first French Open?
Even though the furthest that world’s #2 has managed to go in this tournament before is semi-finals, TonyBet bookies seem to have a reasonable amount of faith in him. The odds for Murray winning Roland Garros are at 4.90 which is just a smidge behind what Nadal got. Obviously, Djokovic remains a force to be reckoned with, but even he can fall.
The Serb has already been a big hurdle for Murray this year, beating him at the finals of Australian Open and Madrid Masters. However, the Scot managed to win against Djokovic at Rome finals, which is definitely a very good sign – although it remains clear that this is one of the scariest opponents he could face.
Still, we never know what surprises may strike us. A dark horse win is always a possibility, and we have seen that plenty of times in the past. While Djokovic, for example, absolutely dominates the ATP ratings, that doesn‘t mean he‘ll get every title. In any case, there‘s a lot to look forward to in the French Open, so make sure to not miss it!
Milos Raonic Serving Woes Leads To One-Sided Loss To Novak Djokovic – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig
by Kevin Craig
- Ana Ivanovic was given the 2nd quickest loss of her career as Karolina Pliskova beat her 6-2, 6-0 in the third round of Indian Wells in 49 minutes.
- In the men’s singles final in Indian Wells, Milos Raonic managed to win only three of 30 points on his second serve, leading to a 6-2, 6-0 defeat.
- Andy Murray was beaten by a left-handed player other than Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2011 as Federico Delbonis beat him in the third round in Indian Wells.
- At one point in the John Isner-Kei Nishikori fourth round match at Indian Wells, Nishikori’s average first serve speed was 108 miles per hour, while Isner’s average second serve speed was 115 miles per hour.
- On a negative note for Isner, each of his last three losses have been decided by third set tiebreaks. In each match, Isner held match point and did not face a break point.
- Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Nenad Zimonjic were able to saved eight match points in the semifinal win over the Bryan brothers in Indian Wells.
- 16-year old Denis Shapovalov of Canada became the first player born in 1999 to win a match on the challenger level. This comes after Felix Auger Aliassime, also of Canada, became the first player born in 2000 to win a match on the challenger level last year. Shapovalov would also go on to become the first 16-year old to make a challenger semifinal since Stefan Kozlov made the semifinals at the Sacramento Challenger in 2014 as a 16-year old.
by Kevin Craig
- At No. 149 in the world, Bjorn Fratangelo became the lowest ranked player to take a set off of Novak Djokovic since No. 174 Nicolas Almagro, who was returning from injury at the time, won the second set in their meeting in Rome in May of 2015. The last time Djokovic lost a first set to a player outside of the Top 100 was when he dropped the first set to No. 158 Lleyton Hewitt in the 2012 Olympics.
- 18 year old Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe did battle in the first round in Indian Wells with Tiafoe wining in three sets. It was the first all-teen matchup in Indian Wells since Marin Cilic defeated Kei Nishikori in 2008.
- With Borna Coric and Alex Zverev reaching the third round in Indian Wells, it marks the first time since 2007 that multiple teenagers made the third round of the event. Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Evgeny Korolev were the players who did so.
- For the first time since 2010 in Indian Wells, no German woman reached the third round of the event.
- The No. 1 doubles seed in Indian Wells lost in the first round for the first time since 1998 as Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau lost to Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski, 10-6 in a match tiebreak.
- The final of the Jonkoping challenger lasted two hours and 44 minutes, making it the longest final on the challenger circuit in 2016. Andrey Golubev took home the title by beating Karen Khachanov, 6-7(9), 7-6(5), 7-6(4), saving four match points along the way. The four match points saved was the most in a challenger final since Tim Smyczek saved four in the Tiburon Challenger in 2015.
- The challenger event in Santiago saw a 19-year age difference in the first round as 38 year old Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo took on 19 year old Christian Garin. Ramirez Hidalgo came out with the victory in three sets.
- Facundo Bagnis became the first player to successfully defend a challenger title in 2016, winning the title in Santiago for the second straight year, also making it three titles in four tries in the Chilean capital.