Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz have forged a new rivalry at the top of men’s tennis, and they could be headed for a third epic showdown this summer.
Entering the U.S. Open, Djokovic is coming off a dramatic win over Alcaraz at the Western & Southern Open earlier this month. That provided a measure of payback after the young Spaniard dethroned the all-time Grand Slam king in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon last month.
Alcaraz holds the No. 1 ranking entering the final Grand Slam of the year, and he’s the defending champion in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. However, it’s Djokovic who is the slight favorite to win the men’s title at +175 ahead of Alcaraz at +170 at BetMGM.
The Serbian, who is attempting to add on to his record 23 Grand Slam titles, leads the book with 35.2 percent of the total bets and 48.9 percent of the money wagered on the men’s champion backing him to win. Alcaraz is close behind with 27.9 percent of the tickets but has drawn just 19.4 percent of the money.
No other player has shorter than third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev’s +1000 odds, which has drawn modest public support with 5.8 and 5.5 percent of the action, respectively. No. 6 Jannik Sinner of Italy has been the third most popular player, having been backed by 8.35 percent of the bets and 5.8 percent of the money at +1400.
The odds are similar at DraftKings, where Djokovic is the +120 favorite, followed by Alcaraz (+190), Medvedev (+1100) and Sinner (+1400).
Djokovic will begin his quest for a 24th Grand Slam title against unseeded Alexandre Muller at 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, while Alcaraz kicks off his title defense against unseeded Dominik Koepfer at the same time on Tuesday.
Alcaraz, 20, is attempting to become the first player to successfully defend a U.S. Open title since Roger Federer in 2008. His half of the draw includes Medvedev, Sinner and No. 8 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia.
“I feel that I’m more mature on court. I feel that I’m a better player than I was a year ago,” Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I got my first Grand Slam last year, but I feel like I’m more mature and I’m better.”
Djokovic, 36, faces a draw that includes Denmark’s Holger Rune, the No. 4 seed, and No. 5 Casper Ruud of Norway, along with No. 7 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and the American trio of No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 10 Francis Tiafoe and No. 14 Tommy Paul.
After taking the first two Grand Slam titles of the year, Djokovic’s record in majors this year is 20-1 — with the lone blemish being the instant classic against Alcaraz at Wimbledon.
“Grand Slams are the biggest goals that I have in my career at the moment,” he said. “I always speak about that, that I aim to peak and perform my best in Grand Slams. I don’t know how many more Slams I’ll have. … I see every Grand Slam that I play right now as really a golden opportunity to make more history.
“Of course, there’s a big significance to that.”
—Field Level Media
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