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P.J. Murray 28th Aug 2011 - 21:00

Men and Womens US Open Preview

With the rather turbulent weather hitting New York it's quite easy to throw puns around such as a storm is brewing etc but the US Open creates its own furore as the last Grand Slam event of the year.

Can Djokovic, who has only lost twice all year, claim another Grand Slam win or will Rafael Nadal move closer to his number one spot with a tournament win. The next two weeks will tell a lot. The Women's tournament is a whole lot less predictable. Serena Williams took an 11 month break and came back with a bang, winning back-to-back titles. Without Kim Clijsters there is no defending champion at Flushing Medows.

The Men

Novak Djokovic (5/4) comes into this tournament as the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion and the five time victor over Nadal this year (all finals). He looks unstoppable, but last year he came to within a hairs breath of being eliminated from the opening round. He also came back from the brink against Roger Federer, he saved two match points in the semi-final before losing to Nadal in the final. His last loss against the Spaniard for a year.  You Can back the Serb at the massively short price of ¼ to win his quarter.

Rafael Nadal (4/1) is looking to hold on to his only title left after the Serb seemed to just replace him on almost every stage, apart from the French Open. However his Summer hard court season has been quite shaky, he was eliminated in the opening round of the ATP Montreal and only made the quarter-finals in Cincinnati. He looks to be a tempting price of 5/2 to be eliminated in the semi-final. He could meet the Scot, Andy Murray (5/1) in the second last match.

Murray is also suffering from Djokovicitis having capitulated against the Serb in the Australian Open final. He did manage to be only one of two player to beat Novak, but when it comes to the Slams he just doesn't seem to have the right stuff, but this has been tipped as his best chance to win a Major. Murray is the perennial Jekyll and Hyde figure, he can go from the sublime to the frustrating as evidenced by his second round loss to Kevin Anderson in Montreal before going on to win in Cincinnati.

Roger Federer has dropped down in many people's estimation in terms of a pecking order, but the Swiss maestro can never be fully ruled out. However if he is to make the final he will have to face a potentially tricky quarter-final tie against the likes of Verdaso, Tsonga or Fish and looking at the draw he might be worth backing to be eliminated at the final eight at 7/2.

The Women

Serena Williams (11/8) is the pre-tournament favourite and the three time winner is looking to equal Martina Navaratilova's record of four wins. Williams exited early from Wimbledon, but has since got a lot of game time under her belt and should be ready to go. Her first test, should all go to plan, will be a third round match with Victoria Azarenka. She could be a good bet at 1/2 to win her quarter and with Azarenka her only real threat this should be certainly looked at. However, it must be remembered that this is a woman who threatened a lineswoman after correctly calling a double fault, the chances of her emotions bellowing over are very high.

Maria Sharapova (11/2) has had a faltering year to say the least. She was deemed to be back to her best after some shoulder surgery but she was dumped out of Wimbledon in the third rounds by a rising Czech star in the form of Petra Kvitova and then lost in the quarter-finals in LA against Williams. Her tag as second favourite in Flushing Meadows is one that is not entirely justified, and considering she is on course to meet Kvitova once again you might be better avoiding her.

Kvitova (8/1) as mentioned previously is a rising star on the WTA tour. The Wimbledon champion is bidding for the second Grand Slam of her short career. She is on course to meet Sharapova, but if you don't fancy her for the outright then I would strongly advise the 3/1 to win her quarter.


The Outsiders

Tomas Berdych (40/1) has been improving of late and has made the quarter and semi-final of his last two tournaments. The Czech native has a decent shot at a quarter-final run should be keep his form going. He will have a chance to avenge his Montreal defeat against Janko Tipsarevic in round three and should be progress he could meet Gael Monfils in round four.

Na Li (16/1) has failed to really sparkle since her French Open win, but the Chinese player will want to shrug off the tag that she is just a 'One Slam Wonder'. She won at Roland Garros on what isn't really her preffered surface and is a battler, so an early exit or two of the right players could open up a path for her to the semi-final and then who knows. She is certainly once to be watched.


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