U.S. Open betting preview: Federer leads Nadal atop men’s odds for tournament

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The price on Roger Federer is rising even as his high-profile peers keep dropping out of the U.S. Open.

Federer, who took last week off to rest a stiff back in hope of giving himself a shot at going 3-for-3 in Grand Slams in 2017, is listed at +175 to be the men’s outright winner on the odds to win the U.S. Open at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal is second favorite at +300, followed by highly touted 20-year-old Alexander Zverev (+450). There seems to be a “but” with each of the top three, since the two legends are operating below peak capability while Zverev has yet to make a Grand Slam quarter-final.

Federer has won both Grand Slams he’s entered in 2017 (the Australian Open in January and Wimbledon in July) but has certainly not been immune to the wear and tear that has forced other top players such as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka to either withdraw from the U.S. Open or shut down for the rest of the season. That might be why the odds on Federer have actually moved up from +125 in recent days.

Federer’s quarter of the draw also has opponents such as the volatile Nick Kyrgios (+1600), Juan Martin del Potro (+2500) and Sam Querrey lurking (+12500).

Nadal is not in top form. The Spaniard is the top seed thanks to his overall body of work this calendar year, but recently had a streak of three tournaments in a row where he departed prior to the semifinals. The biggest threat in his quarter of the draw is Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov (+1600).

It is plausible that a breakthrough from Zverev might top out at being a semifinalist, which would be a major stepping-stone. His quarter of the draw was to include Murray, but former champion Cilic has fallen heir to that spot. Cilic, who won this tournament in 2014, is the sole former Grand Slam champion in the bottom half of the men’s draw.

Women’s tennis has more of anyone-on-any-day vibe with Serena Williams taking time off to have a child. Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza (+600 on the US Open odds), Petra Kvitova (+1400), Venus Williams (+1400) and Caroline Wozniacki (+1600) are all in the same quarter of the draw and  the toll of getting to the semifinal could leave the survivor too taxed for the final two matches.

Muguruza certainly has the championship pedigree and it’s justifiable taking her if one believes the tournament will play out in a very chalky way at sports betting sites.

Karolina Pliskova (+700) appears to have an easier ride through her quarter of the draw and is one of the most consistent players on the WTA Tour. There is also a strong case for Johanna Konta (+800) of Great Britain, who’s been to the Round of 16 at Flushing Meadow for two consecutive years.

With Simona Halep (+900), there’s always the question of whether her defensive style can hold up against stronger players or it’s merely enough to get her into the semifinal and finals.

Not unlike Zverev, promising Elina Svitolina (+1000) might need to make it into a Grand Slam quarter-final before a major title is truly attainable.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)

Goffin ousts Federer in ATP Finals semis

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LONDON — David Goffin ended Roger Federer’s bid for a seventh ATP Finals title by stunning the favorite 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Belgian claimed the biggest win of his career and qualified for the final on Sunday, when he will face Grigor Dimitrov or Jack Sock. They play later Saturday.

Federer looked to be heading toward his 11th final at the elite season-ending tournament when he cruised through the first set, but Goffin took advantage of a drop in his play to level.

Despite having lost all six of his previous encounters with Federer, Goffin was able to execute better in the deciding set, breaking in the third game and producing a nerveless display of serving to seal victory.