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24/08/2007 No.19
Dan Roebuck
Friday August 24, 2007
  Look at the bottom half of the draw to dig out the real value in both singles at Flushing Meadows

Allegations of recent match-fixing have failed to dent confidence in tennis betting with Betfair expecting "turnover to be as thriving as ever" on the final grand slam of the year, the US Open.

Roger Federer makes the market before the start of the tournament on Monday. The world No1 is a best price 4-7 with Sky Bet to win a fourth successive title at Flushing Meadows and given he has won 10 of the past 15 slams, those odds may be generous. There is no doubt that he is the most likely winner, but 4-7 is a price for the big hitters, so the value is to bet each-way (to reach the final) on a player in the bottom half of the draw.

That rules out Andy Roddick, shunted out to 33-1 by Totesport when he was drawn in the same quarter as Federer. The interest lies with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard is a standout 6-1 with Boyle Sports to win in New York and the Serb rates 7-1 with Ladbrokes and they are scheduled to meet in the semi-finals. Djokovic has the tougher draw - Mario Ancic in the first round, a probable meeting with Radek Stepanek in the second and Lleyton Hewitt a likely last-16 opponent - but Hill's says the No3 seed "would probably start favourite against Nadal should they meet in the semi-finals".

At the start of the season Djokovic was available at 40-1 to win the US Open but that price has slowly been cut by the layers after a string of good performances including semi-final appearances in the last two grand slams. The bookmakers were then forced to slash the odds about him winning at Flushing Meadows after he became the first player to defeat both Federer and Nadal in the same event (he also beat Andy Roddick for good measure), when claiming the ATP Masters Series Canada title in Montreal. Three of his four tournament victories this year have come on hard courts and he is certainly the player the top two seeds fear.

Djokovic's billing must be hard for Andy Murray to take. The pair, rivals from their junior days, have enjoyed similar progress throughout their career before injury struck the Scot earlier this year. Murray is 100-1 with Totesport to win at Flushing Meadows, a venue most pundits believe will represent his best chance of claiming a grand slam title. A lack of match practice, however, will seriously hamper his challenge.

Tim Henman will play his final slam in New York and the former British No1 was a favourite among the layers. Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said: "When he retires he'll be sadly missed by bookmakers. He helped put tennis on the betting radar but never quite forced us into a massive payout." It is doubtful Henman will make it past the first round after drawing Dmitry Tursunov, a player with a 5-1 record against him. Paddy Power offers 7-2 Henman and 1-6 Tursunov.

The top half of the draw in the women's singles is also to be avoided. For the third grand slam in a row Justin Henin (2-1 favourite, Blue Square) and Serena Williams (5-1, Blue Square and Hill's) are in the same quarter. Throw in the two most improved performers of the season, Jelena Jankovic (10-1, Bet365 and Boyle's) and Ana Ivanovic (10-1, general), alongside Venus Williams (9-1, Blue Square) in the lower quarter of the same section and you have five of the top six in the market crammed into that half.

That leaves Maria Sharapova, the No2 seed and 5-1 shot with Stan James, looking a solid each-way selection, if fit. The defending champion at Flushing Meadows has found some form recently with success in San Diego and her biggest obstacle for a place in the final could be the shin injury that forced her to withdraw from her latest tournament in Los Angeles .

A bet which will definitely give you an interest throughout the tournament is a buy of the number of sets won to love in the men's singles at 14.2 with Sporting Index. In the past three US Opens there have been 14, 15 and 17, suggesting an upward trend in what is a low-risk trade.

Buy the number of sets won to love in the men's singles at 14.2 (click above - Sporting Index)

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