As the only one of the “Big 3” to play in the US Open bubble, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic (seen here practicing ahead of the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Australia in January) has it all to gain. Photo by Stephanie Myles (OpenCourt.ca)
- Next week’s Western & Southern Open is the first ATP Tour event since the shutdown. It also is the only event before the US Open and played on the same courts
- The Under-25 crew have won just six of the last 45 Masters 1000 tournaments. But this time, they only have one “Big 3” to get past
- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is always the favorite. But we’ll highlight others capable of winning the title
Whenever a big men’s tournament arrives, The “Big 3” of the ATP Tour are always the favorites. Still. It’s rarely worth looking past them if you’re seeking high-probability picks.
But for this year’s Western & Southern Open, there’s only a “Big One”.
Novak Djokovic said he only decided less than a week ago that he would travel to the US to play the Western & Southern Open and the US Open.
It’s hard to fathom why he would have any qualms.
Not only has he already had COVID-19, testing positive after his ill-fated exhibition tournament in Croatia in June, Djokovic also is chasing history. And he won’t have to get through the other members of the Big 3 to do it even if he’d be the favorite regardless.
Western & Southern Open Men’s Singles Odds
|Novak Djokovic (USA)||-106|
|Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+600|
|Daniil Medvedev (RUS)||+900|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+900|
|Alexander Zverev (GER)||+1500|
|Roberto Bautista-Agut (ESP)||+2500|
|Andrey Rublev (RUS)||+2500|
|Matteo Berrettini (ITA)||+4000|
|Milos Raonic (CAN)||+4000|
|Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||+4000|
|David Goffin (BEL)||+5000|
|Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)||+6600|
|Marin Cilic (CRO)||+6600|
|Karen Khachanov (RUS)||+6600|
|Diego Schwartzman (ARG)||+6600|
|Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)||+7500|
|Kyle Edmund (GBR)||+7500|
|Hubert Hurkacz (POL)||+7500|
|John Isner (USA)||+7500|
|Andy Murray (GBR)||+8000|
Odds from Aug. 21
A year ago, Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in the Cincinnati semifinals.
If the Serbian star meets the young Russian again this year, it will also be in the semifinals as Medvedev, the No. 3 seed, ended up in his half of the draw once again.
The Russian has a friendly section of the draw: a first-round bye, the winner of two qualifiers, and then either Taylor Fritz or No. 13 seed Cristian Garin, a Chilean whose best results have come on clay.
Goffin Section Steeped in Talent
Djokovic’s first challenge in his quarter could come from young Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime in the third round.
His Western & Southern Open quarterfinal opponent – whoever it turns out to be – is likely to be worn out by then.
From No. 7 seed David Goffin to Djokovic’s stylistic twin Borna Coric, to the mercurial Benoit Paire, to the speedy Aussie de Minaur, to the big-serving Jan-Lennard Struff, to Auger-Aliassime’s countryman Denis Shapovalov right to 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, there isn’t a lightweight in the bunch.
And to think that Goffin is the one who reached the final a year ago.
2020 UEFA Champions League Odds Tracker
Bottom Half Full of Young Guns and Big Servers
Of the four top seeds in the bottom of half the draw, No. 2 Dominic Thiem is the oldest. And he’s only 26.
No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas is 21, No. 5 Alexander Zverev is 22, and No. 6 Matteo Berrettini of Italy is 23.
The biggest servers in the game are also in the bottom half: No. 16 John Isner, and unseeded Reilly Opelka and Milos Raonic. (Notably, the three above-mentioned young guns also have huge serves).
We’ll know soon enough if the new surface at the National Tennis Center – changed from Decoturf to Laykold this year – will give them an edge.
The young guns on the ATP Tour have found winning Masters 1000 tournaments (never mind Grand Slams) an uphill battle. Only six of the 45 Masters 1000 tournaments between 2014-19 (this is the first in 2020) were won by players younger than 25.
The notion that they won’t have to get through at least two of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to hoist the trophy takes a lot of anticipatory stress off the table.
Potential Early-Round Upsets
If the first round of qualifying is any indication, seeded and/or higher-ranked players will be extremely vulnerable at this first ATP Tour event since the shutdown back in early March.
First Round Upset Picks
|Marin Cilic over  Denis Shapovalov||1st|
|[WC] Andy Murray over [WC] Frances Tiafoe||1st|
|Ugo Humbert over  Grigor Dimitrov||1st|
|[PR] Kevin Anderson over Kyle Edmund||1st|
|Sam Querrey over Milos Raonic||1st|
Western & Southern Open Quarterfinals & Champion Predictions
-  Novak Djokovic vs. Alex de Minaur
-  Daniil Medvedev vs.  Roberto Bautista-Agut
-  Matteo Berrettini vs.  Stefanos Tsitsipas
-  Andrey Rublev vs.  Dominic Thiem
Champion – safe bet: Novak Djokovic (-106)
Champion – longshot bet: Andrey Rublev (+2500)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.