Men’s tennis has been a two-horse race since the decline of Roger Federer around the year 2012. The 2013 edition of the US Open featured Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and two hundred anonymous other dudes who everyone knew wasn’t going to win.
Fast-forward to this season and the injury to Rafael Nadal. This should give Novak Djokovic an easy walk to another major title. In comes Roger Federer and a sudden burst of confidence. Federer has been on the right side of the win card 15 out of 23 matches against top 10 players this year. That’s a stunning statistic that makes him extremely likely to meet Djokokvic in the final match.
Why are these two the only names in real contention? It helps that their tournament draw is relatively easy. The same can’t be said for other promising players, names that would be a part of the title conversation if they didn’t have such a terrifying draw – emerging star Milos Raonic would have to defeat world #11 Kei Nishikori in round four. That’s a tough draw for both players, and it limits the odds of winning it all for both as well.
Federer isn’t the only player that’s somehow found a new spark – Britain’s Andy Murray is in the spotlight again, seeded #8 and earning attention as a potential Cinderella. Then his draw came in, and hope began to fade. Murray would have to go through Djokovic in the quarterfinals to win the US Open – he’d also have a tough second-round match against another dark horse in the form of Radek Stepanek and somehow beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round four after that.
Are there any other players besides Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer that are in contention? Look at guys like David Goffin, winner of his last four tournaments in a row. Though he’s ranked low (ATP has him at number 50), his first two rounds’ opponents are cupcakes. David Goffin should still be playing into the second week at Flushing Meadows. Another name to consider – Bernard Tomic. If this under-seeded up-and-comers can upset Ferrer in the second round, he’ll be a shoe-in for week two as well.
If asked to select a winner between either Djokovic / Federer to win or the field, this year’s US Open would be as good a time as any to bet on the field. If Andy Murray didn’t have such a tough draw, facing Djokovic well before the finals, picking against Novak Djokovic or a newly-resurgent Roger Federer as the ultimate champ would be even easier. A couple of early upsets is all that’s needed to make the goings even tougher for Djokovic and Federer.
If asked to select an overall winner, recent history suggests Roger Federer is set to win it all at the 2014 Open. Federer is 18-17 against Novak Djokovic all-time, and since Rafael Nadal (Federer’s kryptonite) isn’t even in the continental US this time around, Federer has a real chance at the title for the first time in three years. A tougher field for Djokovic means Roger returns to his dominant form.