US Open 2014: Odds for Top Contenders at the Start of Week 2
What a week it has been in New York City.
The tennis courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have been littered with upstarts and legends over the last seven days, and along the way we've seen so many underdogs triumph and even more champions stand their ground.
Most of the underdog victories have come on the women's side of the draw, where six of the top eight seeds have already fallen. Besides No. 4 David Ferrer, who fell to Gilles Simon on Sunday, all of the men's top contenders are still standing.
Before the second week starts, let's revisit the favorites for the men's and women's singles titles. You might be surprised at some of the names on the list.
Odds to Win: 25-1
Outside of the top four women on this list it was hard to pick who had the next best shot at winning this Slam. However, after her comprehensive back-to-back wins over Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic (both in the top 10), the nod goes to the Swiss Belinda Bencic.
Bencic is only 17 years old, making her the youngest player to make it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open since Martina Hingis. Not only does Bencic share a nationality with Hingis, but Hingis' mother is Bencic's coach.
As reported by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, Hingis has a lot of belief in Bencic's game:
Hingis, who is competing in the women’s doubles event here, said that although she saw similarities between her game and Bencic’s, there were differences as well.
'The technique, my mom puts a lot of attention to that,' she said Saturday. 'So the game, I mean, she’s got a great backhand as well. But also she’s stronger, so she can work with other weapons than I had. I mean, maybe I was more maybe a little better mover, but when she hits a shot it can be a winner. Like she’s hitting a lot more winners than did I. So it’s different a little bit.'
With upsets being the name of the game in the women's draw during the first week, don't keep your eye off this prodigal underdog as the tournament goes on.
Odds to Win: 15-1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the only man on this list who hasn't won a Slam, and he has an incredibly tough draw with Andy Murray in the fourth round and then possibly Novak Djokovic in the quarters.
However, after his great run in Toronto this summer—where he took out Murray, Djokovic and Roger Federer to win the title—Tsonga has to be in the conversation here at the U.S. Open until he's out of the tournament. He has the ability to take out all of the top guys if he has a good day.
Tsonga has marched through his first three rounds without much drama—a rare thing for the Frenchman—and it's time to see if the 29-year-old has finally matured enough to win his first Slam. He certainly has a shot.
Odds to Win: 12-1
This has been a breakthrough year for Genie Bouchard. She just needs a major title to cap it off.
The 20-year-old made it to the semis at the Australian Open and French Open, and then the final at Wimbledon where she was crushed by Petra Kvitova. After a rough summer, Bouchard has battled away through feisty opponents and less-than-stellar play at this U.S. Open and is back into the second week of a major.
After the year she's had, she's no longer considered inexperienced. Now she's just expected to win. With so many top players already home, Bouchard could become the only first-time major winner on the WTA this year.
Odds to Win: 12-1
Could Stan be the Man again in New York City? Well, after his play during the first week of the tournament, it's certainly not out of the question.
He got through two tough matches against Jiri Vesely and Thomaz Bellucci to open up his week, and then he received a walkover in the third round when Blaz Kavcic withdrew. He'll face Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.
Oddly enough, at the Australian Open this year, he also had a walkover in the third round and played against Robredo in the fourth round. He walked away the champion that fortnight, and he has a chance to do it again this week.
Odds to Win: 8-1
The way Victoria Azarenka had played this summer in her injury comeback, it would have been silly to consider her one of the top contenders heading into this U.S. Open. After all, she was 3-5 since the Australian Open and her ranking had fallen down to No. 17.
But the two-time Australian Open champion has fought her way through the first week of the U.S. Open and has looked more and more like herself in each match. Since dropping the first set of her first-round match against Masaki Doi, she's won her last five sets in a row pretty easily.
Azarenka has made it to the final in Flushing the last two years in a row, and suddenly she's looking dangerous again. If she keeps getting stronger each round, this trophy could be hers.
Odds to Win: 8-1
It hasn't been pretty and it hasn't been straight-forward, but 2012 champion Andy Murray is still alive after three rounds of play at the U.S. Open. He's smiling, too—after all, he enjoys doing things the hard way.
That's a good thing because Murray has a very tough draw ahead of him, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round and potentially Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals However, he's proven during the first week that he can win despite full-body cramps, opponents on hot streaks and even his own mental lapses.
We've been waiting to see the Murray who won two majors return to the big stage this year. This might just be the time.
Odds to Win: 5-1
For two years Caroline Wozniacki was the No. 1-ranked player in the women's game. However, she never could get over that hump on the big stage and win her first major.
Now at this year's U.S. Open, she is playing some of the best tennis of her career and is a contender once again. She's had a great U.S. Open Series, and her victory over Maria Sharapova in the fourth round was one of the biggest of her career.
Chris Chase of USA Today's For The Win summed up why this U.S. Open could be a breakthrough one for Wozniacki:
The win gets Wozniacki to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in her past 11 appearances. She’ll be favored against No. 13 Sara Errani and should be the favorite against any potential semifinal opponent too, as the only higher seed in her half of the draw is No. 9 Jelena Jankovic. Suddenly, Caroline Wozniacki is the favorite to make it back to her second U.S. Open final.
If she gets that far, Wozniacki is one of the few players left in the draw who could have a legitimate chance to upset Serena Williams when Serena isn’t beating herself. Wozniacki pushed Williams to three sets in each of their two hard-court matches this summer and both times came within a few points of swinging momentum in the third set. To even suggest that Wozniacki could hang with Williams in a Grand Slam final would have been unimaginable as recently as five months ago.
Odds to Win: 5-2
Everyone seemed to think Wimbledon was Roger Federer's last best chance to win a Grand Slam, but he's a serious contender here in New York too, particularly after his good play during the first week.
Federer has only dropped one set so far during this tournament—the first set of his third-round match against Marcel Granollers. The five-time U.S. Open champion went on to win the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
With Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the other half of the draw, Federer's path back to the final is looking mighty smooth. He's 5-1 in U.S. Open finals in his career.
Odds to Win: 8-11
It's been much publicized that Serena Williams hasn't won a major this year—in fact, until this year's U.S. Open, she hadn't even made it to the fourth round. But at this point, it would be a huge upset if she didn't get that monkey off her back this week.
With Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova and other top players out of the draw, this is now looking more and more like Serena's march to Slam No. 18.
"I can't believe I'm in the second week. It's like a dream come true for me at this point," she joked with the press after her third-round victory over Varvara Lepchenko, per USOpen.org.
A dream for her is a nightmare for the rest of the field.
Odds to Win: 6/5
Novak Djokovic was the favorite headed into this U.S. Open, and absolutely nothing that has happened in the first week in New York has even threatened to change that.
After a summer of looking shaky on the U.S. hard courts, Djokovic has looked nothing less than sublime in his first three matches at the Open. He hasn't dropped a set through Sunday and no opponent has won more than four games in one set against him.
With Rafael Nadal out, this is definitely Djokovic's tournament to lose.
He talked to the press about how he's peaking at the right time after his third-round win over Sam Querrey, via ASAP Sports:
But the upside of me losing early in Cincinnati is that I had more time to prepare for US Open, last Grand Slam of the year. Over the years I played some of my best tennis on these courts. four finals and one title is quite impressive record. I feel very comfortable playing on Arthur Ashe stadium. The New York give me a lot of energy. It's a pleasure to perform, to play in front of them
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