Serena, Nadal: More Than Sentimental Favorites At U.S. Open?

Possible last hurrahs for two all-time tennis greats may lure bettors who love a good story line
serena williams serve

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal have more than four decades of experience at U.S. Open tennis tournaments between them. But Serena has announced this tournament, which starts on Monday, will be her career swan song, and Nadal’s aches and pains may mean this is his last appearance in Queens, New York, as well.

So what kind of odds can a nostalgic fan get on each?

Serena Williams — whose sister, Venus, is competing as a wild card entry — is +5000 to win on DraftKings, or 50/1 (a far better play than the +3300 number at BetMGM).

But she has gotten out of the first round only once in the last three Grand Slam events she entered. As she’s a month shy of her 41st birthday, the sports betting operators in New Jersey and elsewhere figure to make a killing on casual gamblers who can’t resist a last-chance wager on Serena.

Nadal, who is 36, is not as far past his prime, hence his odds to win the men’s draw of a mere +400. But Nadal had to withdraw from the Wimbledon semifinals earlier this summer with an abdominal injury, and a balky knee also means that — with the very real chance of a mid-event withdrawal — his odds, like Williams’, don’t necessarily offer much value.

More realistic betting plays, men’s side

DraftKings has defending champ and top seed Daniil Medvedev at +225 to win, aided by the absence of Novak Djokovic — who won this event in 2011, 2015, and 2018 but is not eligible to play in New York this year because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19. (Medvedev backers can get a more appealing +260 at BetMGM, by the way.)

After Nadal, the third choice is Carlos Alcaraz at +500 at DraftKings, followed by the mercurial Nick Kyrgios at +900 and then Stefanos Tsitsipas at +1400 to win the tournament. Alcaraz is only 19, so either an an early exit or a long run seem plausible for the youngster.

With the absence of Djokovic and semi-retired Roger Federer, Medvedev, 2020 champ Dominic Thiem, and 2016 winner Stan Wawrinka join Nadal as the only former U.S. Open champions in the field. At DraftKings, Thiem and Wawrinka both are priced at 200/1.

Looking to root an American to the title? Odds are against it, but 24-year-old Taylor Fritz is the seventh choice at 22/1 on BetMGM. After that, veteran John Isner and Tommy Paul are 150/1 choices.

One wager to consider is on Nadal not to win — except at -650 odds, your $100 bet would only pay $15.38 if and when he gets eliminated.

More realistic betting plays, women’s side

In the women’s draw, Iga Swiatek is the betting favorite on DraftKings at +400. (You’re better off with the +450 on BetMGM, and you’d be well advised to continue to shop, as New Jersey has more than 20 mobile sportsbooks offering a variety of prices.) Simona Halep is at +800 and Caroline Garcia is at +1600, both on BetMGM.

Defending champ Emma Radacanu could have some appeal at +2000, rating behind Aryna Sabalenka (+1600) and top American pick Coco Gauff (+1600).

Other American options include Naomi Osaka and Jessica Pegula (both +2500), Madison Keys (+3500), and Danielle Rose Collins and Amanda Anisimova (both +4000). The 2019 champ, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, is listed at +3500.

Venus Williams? She’s at +40000, or 400/1, at BetMGM. That’s probably a better bet than Serena, though neither is likely to survive the first week of play.

The only “won’t win” option on DraftKings on the women’s side is Swiatek at -650 — probably an even worse play than the same odds shorting Nadal.

Will there be a first-time winner on the women’s side? At DraftKings, “yes” is -2000, while “no” is +700. On the men’s side, “yes” is just -135, while “no” is even money.

Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/USA TODAY


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