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.

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — American qualifier Alycia Parks is having quite the breakthrough tournament in Ostrava.

The 21-year-old Parks earned her first win against a top-10 ranked opponent by beating fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 at the Agel Open on Thursday to reach her first WTA Tour quarterfinal.

The 144th-ranked Parks ousted former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the opening round – her first win against a top-20 opponent – and showed off her power by hitting 59 winners against Sakkari, compared to just nine for her opponent.

“I came out here not expecting anything, just playing my game, and it got me through the match,” Parks said.

Parks will next face former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who advanced via walkover when Belinda Bencic withdrew with a left foot injury.

Caty McNally, another American qualifier who is playing doubles with Parks in Ostrava, also reached the last eight by beating wild-card entry Karolina Muchova 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. McNally is also into her first WTA quarterfinal and will face top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who advanced Wednesday.

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Add Botic van de Zandschulp to the long list of players to have been schooled by Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman to reach the quarterfinals of the Astana Open.

Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic, who is looking for a second straight indoor hardcourt title after winning in Tel Aviv last week.

“(In the) second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more,” Djokovic said. “Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will next face Karen Khachanov, who rallied to beat Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. If the 21-time Grand Slam champion gets past that one, he could come up against fellow former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev. The second-seeded Russian beat Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to move one match away from a potential rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, when Medvedev beat Djokovic to deny his attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Medvedev will first have to beat Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced Wednesday.