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Michael Taylor 26th Aug 2009 - 14:57

Great value Verdasco the outsider to watch

If the US Open goes by the form book then Andy Murray and Roger Federer can look forward to a repeat of last year's final; if it doesn't go exactly to plan though then Fernando Verdasco could be the man to profit.

Verdasco, a surprise semi-finalist at this year's Australian Open, hinted in his Melbourne run that whenever there's a hard court slam then he is definitely worth consideration.

He ended Andy Murray's dream in a five set thriller before narrowly losing out to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in another epic - not bad for a man who was known as a clay court specialist prior to that tournament.

He's not without a few demons, most notably his failure to register a single career win over Federer or Nadal, but, at 66/1, I am more than willing to punt on someone as fundamentally sound as Verdasco - each way at least.

However, the harsh truth could easily be that Federer is once again too hard to beat at Flushing Meadows; after all he hasn't lost at the US Open since 2003.

The Swiss Master, a short 11/8 favourite for Open success, is a formidable opponent at the worst of times but when he enters a tournament looking to claim a third slam of the year then he's won most matches before even making a serve.

Such was his psychological domination last year that Murray, a man who's generally played well against Feds, was completely obliterated in the anti-climactic final.

Whether he is quite as good as last year, or whether other players such as Murray and Juan Martin del Potro have improved, it still remains a given that Federer is the man beat.

As for Britain's great hope Murray, well I've almost given up on him claiming a slam in his career.

It seems every time I back him, predict he's going to win or purely root for him he ends up losing out to people he should have little problem with.

Verdasco in the Australian, Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, who knows who it will be in New York.

On paper Murray looks a good, solid bet at 5/2 given his record on hard courts this year.

He's won two Masters 1000 titles (Montreal and Miami), five hard titles in total and boasts a superb season record of 37 wins and four losses on hard courts.

I'd love the Scot to win, I'm just slightly reluctant to back him against Federer, and perhaps even Nadal.

Nadal in fact could prove to be something of a dark horse after a year wrecked by injury.

Rafa, now number three in the world, may still be missing a hard court slam title from his collection but he does have much to prove after the worst year of his career.

His recent exit from the Cincinnati Masters at the hands of Novak Djokovic gave thousands of punters a kick in the teeth but chances are Nadal will have come out better for the experience.

The former world number one is a massive 5/1 and, as everybody knows, if he's fit and healthy then he is more than able to make that price look a steal.

But as we've seen with Robin Soderling making the French Open final and Andy Roddick achieving the same at Wimbledon, nothing in grand slam tennis is a given.

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