If you fancy Andy Murray to win the US Open – and we’ll come to what I think in a moment – then there is no other place to go to place your bets than Paddy Power, who are offering new account holders increased terms on the Scot winning his first grand slam title. For existing account holders he is 7-2 and that, too, is not a bad price, when we go through the field.
Roger Federer, galvanised and rejuvenated after his Wimbledon triumph, is a big threat of course, but it is Novak Djokovic who is favourite at 5-4 with Paddy Power and I think that’s about right. The Serb got the luck when Murray was drawn in the other half with Federer and it is hard to see anything other than him making it all the way to the final.
Let’s examine the facts. Djokovic is not as dominant as he was in 2011 and he has lost his No 1 ranking and his Wimbledon crown to Federer. But on hard courts he remains the most consistent player in the world, having won the past three hard court grand slams – here last year and the last two Australian Opens. He bounced back from his defeats at Wimbledon and the Olympics by taking the title in Toronto and made the final in Cincinnati only to lose out to Federer. He has David Ferrer in his half but I’d be amazed if he doesn’t make it to the final. Over five sets on hard courts, with his phenomenal will-power, he is the man to beat.
Who comes through from the other half will depend in part on what you think winning the Olympics has done for Andy Murray’s self-belief. The Scot must be walking on air still after winning gold and the manner in which he did it, beating Federer in three straight sets will have shown him that he can produce when the pressure is on. He looks fit, strong and ready to break his grand slam duck and though he might have to beat both Federer and Djokovic to do it, he feels ready to do just that.
Federer, in some ways, is the enigma. The Swiss was brilliant at Wimbledon as he turned the final around after being outplayed for a set and a bit by Murray. On grass, he remains the best player in the world and you can’t argue with his ranking or his performance in winning in Cincinnati.
But I still think that over five sets, especially on hard courts and with his 31st birthday now behind him, it’s asking an awful lot for him to beat probably both Murray and Djokovic to win the title. Of course, he might not have to, and his early draw is pretty straightforward so he should be able to conserve energy. If he wins, it would not be a surprise but I think Murray and Djokovic have better chances this time. That should be the final and if anyone else muscles in on it, I’d be a little shocked.
This, though, is Murray’s tournament to win. His confidence has never been better and he loves the courts, the atmosphere and everything about the place. With Ivan Lendl working well as his coach and with that Olympic win in the bag, he may even cut loose and start playing his best tennis from the start. At 7-2, (6-1 for new account holders) he is the value of the three.