Get ready for a shock: I’m forecasting Novak Djokovic as the winner of this year’s U.S. Open. I give Djokovic a 27.8% chance of winning the tournament–a higher probability than I gave him at Wimbledon.
There’s a marked difference between Novak and the rest of the pack, in part because Juan Martin del Potro could wreak havoc with the bottom half of the draw. I give Rafael Nadal a 14.6% chance, Andy Murray 9.2%, and Delpo 6.6%.
Federer comes in fourth behind Murray, at 8.9%. Making his road tricky is a likely quarterfinal matchup with either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Mardy Fish. Fish does better in my hard-court rankings than on the ATP computer, and is sixth-most likely to win the tournament at 4.2%. Tsonga comes in 7th at 3.8%, as he shines on hard courts. Also, my algorithm takes into account Tsonga’s wins over Fed.
Seeded Americans Andy Roddick and John Isner do better than their rankings would suggest, in large part due to their hard-court prowess. Roddick has a 2.1% chance, and Isner 0.2%. The overall chance that an American wins the event is 6.6%–just a tick above the combined probability of Fish or Roddick winning, and equal to Delpo’s shot.
The unseeded player my system favors is Nikolay Davydenko, at 0.7%. Recent disasters aside, he is one of the few players who has proven he can beat the best players in the game. As I recently wrote, his inconsistency may actually be a good thing.
There are several first-rounders that figure to be extremely tight matches. Here are all the opening matchups where the favorite (in bold) has less than a 55% chance of getting through to the second round:
- Granollers vs Malisse
- Kukushkin vs Montanes
- Bellucci vs Sela
- Kohlschreiber vs Stepanek (almost dead even)
- Bubka vs Haider-Maurer (also nearly even)
- Dancevic vs Ilhan (two qualifiers)
- Baghdatis vs Isner (maybe that would change if I re-ran my rankings through Winston-Salem)
- Young vs Lacko (Kubot pulled out, making both Donald and Lacko lucky)
- Matosevic vs Chela (actually 58/42, Chela being the least-favored seed)
- Rosol vs Pospisil (another 50/50, I’d probably bet on the young Canadian)
- Istomin vs Sweeting
- Roger-Vasselin vs Muller