Novak Djokovic is the bookmakers' pick to successfully defend his crown at the 2019 U.S. Open, which gets under way at Flushing Meadows in New York on Monday.
The path looks clear for Djokovic, 32, to defend the trophy for the first time in his career—a potential fourth U.S. Open crown overall—despite veterans Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer still presenting stiff competition.
Naomi Osaka doesn't look as certain to retain the women's top prize. She is behind favourite and five-time tournament-winner Serena Williams—who will take on Maria Sharapova in a first-round headliner—and 2015 semi-finalist Simona Halep in the odds.
Top seed Osaka, 21, faces Russian Anna Blinkova in her opener and has been drawn a potential third-round matchup opposite American starlet Cori Gauff, 15.
Williams hasn't won a major since the 2017 Australian Open, but she enters as 4-1 favourite to end that drought in New York.
Visit the official U.S. Open website to see the full schedule.
2019 U.S. Open Odds Leaders
Novak Djokovic: 11-10
Rafael Nadal: 11-4
Roger Federer: 6-1
Daniil Medvedev: 11-1
Alexander Zverev: 20-1
Stefanos Tsitsipas: 20-1
Dominic Thiem: 20-1
Stanislas Wawrinka: 30-1
Serena Williams: 4-1
Simona Halep: 7-1
Naomi Osaka: 9-1
Ashleigh Barty: 9-1
Karolina Pliskova: 12-1
Madison Keys: 12-1
Sloane Stephens: 16-1
Angelique Kerber: 16-1
Key Player Predictions
Djokovic will be on the hunt for his third major of the year before heading to the ATP Finals in November.
The world No. 1 has reached more U.S. Open finals than in any other Grand Slam with nine appearances, winning in three of those (2011, '15, '18).
He beat Nadal, 33, in the Australian Open final in January and edged Roger Federer, 38, to win Wimbledon for a fifth time.
Interestingly, Djokovic could run into Daniil Medvedev—who recently beat him en route to the Cincinnati Masters crown—in the quarter-finals, via Tennis TV:
Nole has a knack of transforming into his most clinical self in Grand Slams, and his title wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year stand as evidence of that.
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem and sixth seed Alexander Zverev don't yet look the finished product in major tournaments, with the elite clinging on to what could be their last days of dominion.
Tennis analyst Enrico Maria Riva pointed out the disparity in Grand Slam titles between Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and the rest of the field:
That said, Djokovic and second seed Nadal again look like encouraging picks to meet in the final. The Spaniard won here as recently as 2017, but that was in the midst of Nole's out-of-form period, and the Serb now presents a much stronger threat.
The excitement is palpable in the women's bracket ahead of the first clash between Williams and Sharapova in more than three-and-a-half years, per tennis writer Jose Morgado:
Sharapova, 32, is yet to make it past the round of 16 in any of the six tournaments she's participated in this year, per the official WTA website.
Williams was forced to withdraw before the two were set to clash at the 2018 French Open due to injury. Technically, Sharapova is on a streak of 18 consecutive losses to the six-time U.S. Open winner, with the former having last beat her rival at the 2004 WTA Championships.
The favourite could cruise through the first few rounds, but 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova, No. 2 Ashleigh Barty and third seed Karolina Pliskova are each potentially on her schedule before the final.
A return to Flushing Meadows is also sure to dredge up memories of last year's controversial final defeat to Osaka, when Williams broke her racket and had an argument with the umpire, via ABC News:
Osaka built on her maiden major win at last year's U.S. Open by clinching another in Melbourne, Australia, in January, but she's since failed to get past the third round in two Grand Slams.
Her first-round exit at Wimbledon was a particular disappointment, and the world No. 1 hasn't displayed the kind of title-winning form necessary to suggest she'll keep the crown in New York.