The fourth and final Grand Slam of the year gets underway this Monday at Flushing Meadows. For many, it’s the last chance of the season to land a coveted title, while for a select few it’s an opportunity to sign off a spectacular year in style.
Aside from Roger Federer, who won each of his five US Open titles in consecutive years from 2004 to 2008, no player has successfully defended the men’s US Open title since Pat Rafter did so in 1998.
Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal have all failed to defend their title in that period, yet Novak Djokovic is the 2.50 favourite to retain his title this year.
The women’s US Open, on the other hand, has been a little more predictable in recent years. In the past 13 years Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters have each won three titles, while Venus Williams and Justine Henin have each won a couple. Sveltana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur complete the roster having each won once in that period.
Serena is the strong 2.00 favourite for the 2012 US Open, while Sharapova can be backed at odds of 6.50.
Grand slam form
In the men’s game, form in the year’s previous Grand Slam tournaments is a big factor; six of the last eight US Open winners had won a Grand Slam title earlier in the year. Roger Federer in 2008 and Juan Martin del Potro in 2009 are the two anomalies in that list, but in 2008 Federer was a beaten finalist in both the French Open and that epic five-setter with Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon.
Four of Federer’s five US Open titles have come in years following success at Wimbledon, while the Swiss has only twice failed to win back-to-back Grand Slams after winning Wimbledon.
Djokovic won the Australian Open earlier this season, so would fit the mould, but there are more historical factors pointing towards Federer, who can be backed at 3.20.
There’s also a case to be made for a first-time Grand Slam winner at the US Open. Again taking Federer out of the equation, four of the last seven US Open winners have achieved their first Grand Slam success at Flushing Meadow. Two (Roddick and del Potro) have yet to add another. Andy Murray can be backed at odds of 5.00 to end his Grand Slam hoodoo over the coming weeks in New York.
Interestingly, the women’s US Open doesn’t appear to take as much from the year’s previous Grand Slams as the men’s game. Not since 2002 has the same woman won both Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year, while only one woman (Justine Henin) in that same period has won the US Open after winning any of the other three Grand Slams earlier in the year.
However, it should be noted, perhaps crucially, that Serena Williams was the last player to achieve the Wimbledon-US Open double, back in 2002. Also, since the year 2000, only one player (Kim Clijsters) has won her maiden Grand Slam title in New York. All the others had previously tasted Grand Slam success.