2021 US Open betting preview: Can Novak Djokovic make tennis history?

The US Open, the ATP’s fourth major of the year, starts Monday in New York. Dominic Thiem, the 2020 champion, won’t be in the field to defend his title because of a lingering right wrist injury. Thiem was able to win his first major after world No. 1 Novak Djokovic struck a line judge with a ball and was disqualified, ending his potential run at another major title.

This is a special one for Djokovic. With his Wimbledon win, Djokovic tied Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most career Grand Slam titles at 20, and he now has the chance to top them. 

Djokovic also is in the hunt for a true Grand Slam after winning the three previous major tournaments this year. Rod Laver was the last man to do it in 1969. He's also the only man to do it twice in 1962 and 1969. Winning all four majors in the same year in this era of tennis would be unreal.

If Djokovic wins this US Open, his place in history as an all-time great will be secure.

Who are the US Open betting favorites?

Odds from BetMGM

  • Novak Djokovic -135

  • Daniil Medvedev +450

  • Alexander Zverev +550

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas +1100

  • Matteo Berrettini +3300

The surface

Surface is a big thing in tennis betting. However, it's not as important at the US Open. The speed of the court is a tad slower than the Australian Open, but another element is far more important: The effect of day and night matches.

Night-match conditions really come into play and can neutralize big servers and big hitters. This can be an advantage for good baseliners and returners. In day matches, warmer temperatures lead to more pop and more zip on the ball.

Which type of player will win the US Open? One with a strong return and defensive game. Night matches become more about fitness, mental strength and the ability to endure longer rallies.

Top half of the draw

Djokovic headlines the top half along with Zverev, the Olympic gold medal winner. Djokovic’s path to the final is a bit of an easy one as he’s unlikely to face his first real challenge until the quarterfinal in a possible matchup against Polish rising star Hubert Hurkacz (+8000).

What I love about “Hubi:” He won two hardcourt titles this year, most notably ATP Masters 1000 Miami Open. En route to his title, Hurkacz defeated quite a list of big names: No. 10 Denis Shapovalov, No. 34 Milos Raonic, Tsitsipas, No. 7 Andrey Rublev, and No. 16 Jannik Sinner. Hurkacz flashes glimpses of Federer by utilizing the slice as an offensive weapon. He does well to protect his serve, but his return needs development to become more lethal. That’s the next part of his game that Hurkacz needs to unlock to reach another level.

This potential matchup against Djokovic is intriguing.

The winner of Djokovic-Hurkacz will likely face Zverev, who has tendency to double fault. Or does he? It’s a known fact that the German has an inconsistent serve and it affects winning at times. Zverev had nine aces against Felix Auger Aliassime at Wimbledon, but he also had 20 double faults and lost the match in five sets, even though he led in games won and service points won.

But since then, Zverev has won back-to-back titles in the Olympics and at Cincinnati with a combined 16 double faults in 11 matches. If his serve is on, he’s a threat.

Bottom half of the draw

Medvedev, No. 2 in the world, headlines the bottom half along with American John Isner. Medvedev also has a pretty clear path to the final. What makes him so deadly? He’s a backboard. Medvedev is 6-foot-6 and returns everything. His game is about outlasting his opponent and wearing him down from the baseline. To beat him, you need variety in your game.

The issue with Medvedev: weather conditions. It’s warm and humid in New York, and we’ve seen Medvedev cramp in this type of weather.

Playing in these conditions contributed to losses at Miami, the Olympics, and at Cincinnati (though that came after running into a camera).

There are quality players on the bottom half — Rublev, Isner, and Tsitsipas — but if Medvedev can handle the heat, this side of the draw is his.

US Open prediction

The easy answer: We'll see an Australian Open rematch between Djokovic and Medvedev.

The realistic answer: There are a few players that have a legitimate shot at winning.

Here’s the thing about the Djoker: We haven’t seen him play since his semifinal loss to Zverev in the Olympics. Djokovic’s first US Open title was in 2011. In his career since, Djokovic has never skipped playing in at least one preparation, such as the Cincinnati Masters.

Plus, for months now he’s been hearing non-stop about "winning the Calendar Slam."

Is Djokovic in match form? Is he feeling added pressure?

Who will win the US Open?

One of these four players: Djokovic (-135), Medvedev (+450), Zverev (+550), or the long shot in Hurkacz (+800). It’s not the best answer, but it’s an honest answer.

In the early rounds, pay attention to Zverev’s serving, Medvedev’s fitness in the heat and humidity, and Djokovic’s form. You can still snag a futures bet up until the quarterfinals.

Betting option: consider a moneyline rollover for Djokovic. You’re likely to get better odds in the end.