The US Open is now at the quarter-final stage, and with eight players remaining in each of the men’s and women’s tournament. With the exception of several players who have benefited from walkovers, each player who is still in contention for the US Open has now won four from four matches. This enables us to draw up some data which can help us assess each player’s progress so far, with a view to discussing their potential for the remainder of the tournament.
What does the data say?
US Open Men’s Singles Title
Various statistics for the men’s quarter-finalists are listed below (sorted by combined service/return points won percentages):
After Novak Djokovic’s retirement loss against Stan Wawrinka, the two remaining players of the traditional elite still in the tournament are Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, and both are the top two of this list - boasting the best combined service/return points won in the tournament so far.
Federer just eclipses Nadal at the top of the list, although given that he probably has a tougher half of the draw to contend with, there’s still a decent argument for Nadal retaining his tournament favourite status.
Usually we get an outlier player who flew under the radar pre-tournament and who has very strong tournament data and this man here is Diego Schwartzman. The opening set in his 3-1 victory over Alexander Zverev last night was the first set the Argentine dropped in the entire tournament and the medium-slow hard courts here in New York look rather suited to Schwartzman’s taste. He’s also won almost the same percentage of games as both Federer and Nadal and could well give the Spaniard a tough match tomorrow night.
Despite rumours suggesting Daniil Medvedev is injured, this data would indicate that he’s still performing at a strong level and it’s worth noting that both this short-term tournament data in isolation, as well as longer-term hard court numbers make him a strong favourite over Stan Wawrinka tonight.
My view is that Wawrinka often offers very poor value from a pre-match betting standpoint, when compared to his statistics. The fact that the market hasn’t picked up on his tournament combined service/return points won numbers being the worst of all the remaining eight players in the draw, and having spent more time on court than everyone except Matteo Berrettini aptly demonstrates my point.
US Open Women’s Singles Title
I also performed the same analysis for the eight remaining players left in the women’s tournament, again sorting this by combined service/return points won percentages:
There will probably be little surprise among readers that tournament favourite Serena Williams leads the way here - she had the best hard court data this year, and again does this year so far at the US Open.
However, the former world number one is closely followed by the trio of Johanna Konta, Elise Mertens and Elina Svitolina, who have all recorded combined service/return points won percentages in excess of 116% - demonstrating a very strong level indeed.
Mertens and Svitolina are two players - Qiang Wang is the other - who are yet to drop a set in the tournament so far and the ease they got through their matches is borne out in them spending less time on court than the majority of the other players left in the competition.
Konta against Svitolina tonight looks a very interesting match-up indeed. Svitolina is a solid market favourite, and this is backed-up by longer-term data as well. Despite this, Konta’s numbers at the US Open this season suggest she may be a little under-valued by the market.
As for Serena, she faces the aforementioned Wang this evening and it will be interesting to see which version of Wang turns up. If she can reproduce the level which saw her exhibit a superb level on hard courts in the last couple of months of 2018, then she could give Williams a real match - hopefully she won’t be overawed by the big stage against the biggest name on the WTA Tour.
Of the remaining players, Donna Vekic has the worst numbers from the US Open this season and she’s a slight underdog to Belinda Bencic tomorrow night. 2019 hard court data would indicate this is a very even-looking match, so the markets look like they’re taking Bencic’s better US Open level into account.
Bianca Andreescu against Elise Mertens is also worth discussing, with Andreescu looking justified as market favourite based on the two players’ records this season. However, Mertens has been superb in the tournament so far and after suffering from negative variance for a lot of the season on break points, she’s now mean-reverting in an extremely positive manner - she’s over-performed by 9.3% on break points this tournament (based on service and return points won expectations).
Perhaps this is leading the market to think she has more of a chance against Andreescu than longer-term numbers will indicate, and it will be interesting to see how the market for this match behaves between now and tomorrow night, when that quarter-final will take place.
The 2019 US Open is just a week away, and with players getting one last chance for court time this week in Winston Salem, this preview looks at the likely conditions in New York and the data surrounding the main contenders for the final Grand Slam of the year.
While there are a number of players competing this week in Winston Salem, it isn’t anticipated that many taking part there will be have a realistic chance of success in the coming weeks in New York, as there are no top 20 players in the draw in North Carolina. But who does have a chance at becoming this year’s US Open champion?
How will the conditions affect play?
As usual, the first area worthy of consideration when assessing any tournament is the likely conditions. Outdoor hard courts are the third quickest court type on tour (behind grass and indoor hard, but above clay) but it’s worth noting that conditions at the US Open across the last three years have been on the slow side for hard courts.
There’s been 62.5% of service points won here, and 0.49 aces per game served during that time period and both figures are below the ATP hard court mean. The games per set figure is 9.79, while there have been just 0.15 tiebreaks per set - both of which are very low figures.
While some of this will be down to the obvious greater disparities in ability between the top players and the also rans - which don’t often arise in smaller tournaments - it would be difficult to envisage that conditions are going to be anything other than medium-slow for hard courts here.
With slower courts leading to more break-point opportunities, and obviously the best of five set format also needing to be considered in this respect as well, it should lead to the more dominant player coming through more often, whilst variance - particularly key point variance, which is a huge factor in quicker conditions such as grass - shouldn’t play such a big impact.
Who are the top US Open contenders?
In advance of the tournament, we can take our usual look at the current ATP top 10 to see the hard court levels of the main contenders for the title. Given that it is extremely rare for a non-top 10 player to win a men’s Grand Slam tournament, this should provide us with a comprehensive list of players capable of lifting the trophy.
2019 Hard Court Service Hold %
2019 Hard Court Break Opponent %
2019 Hard Court Combined %
Rather surprisingly, Rafa Nadal has slightly better data than Novak Djokovic this year on hard court and did lift the trophy in Montreal just over a week ago, disposing of Daniil Medvedev in the final. Having done so, he decided that was enough pre-tournament preparation and skipped Cincinnati, and saw both his main title rivals suffer defeats to Russian youngsters there - Djokovic to Medvedev, and Roger Federer against Andrey Rublev.
However, Nadal and Djokovic look clear elite-level players (my assessment is anyone over 120% combined is elite-level) with Federer and Medvedev’s data showing them to be the clear ‘best of the rest’. While Federer’s powers are arguably on the wane a little, the upcoming Russian 23 year old, Medvedev, is clearly on a massive upward curve.
Medvedev’s 2019 data shows a considerable increase to his 2018 numbers and the big question surrounding his performance surely is his ability to compete in five-set events at the top level - he’s still not gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam in his career and is 0-4 in deciding fifth sets.
New to the top ten this week is Roberto Bautista-Agut, and it is evident from his numbers that he deserves such a ranking, while it would be a stretch to think that any of the other five players in this list would have a high chance of defeating elite players with their current numbers.
The ones to watch
Other players who could have a chance of the latter stages, assuming a kind draw and exhibiting a decent level on court, include Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, David Goffin and Milos Raonic.
Cilic and Kyrgios have had their issues this year - Cilic with injury in particular while Kyrgios is as inconsistent as ever. The Australian can compete with the best on his day, but lose to players he’s considerably better than as well, with on and off-court outbursts frequent. As for Goffin, he’s also had his injury troubles but did well to reach the final in Cincinnati last week and comes into the tournament in better shape than it looked like he would.
Finally, Raonic is among three intriguing Canadians in the draw, with Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov also hopeful of a strong performance. All three of these Canadians have similar combined hold/break numbers around the 103-105% mark in 2019 hard court events, although Raonic is predominantly more serve-orientated than the other two.
As the youngest of the trio, having just turned 19 last week, Auger-Aliassime should have the most long-term upside, although perhaps this tournament will come a little too soon for him in terms of reaching at least the semi-final stage.
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