This article is part of our Tennis Picks series.
Every Grand Slam is important, but the 2022 US Open could be one for the history books. With Serena Williams announcing her retirement, this is her last chance to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Rafael Nadal already has the most Grand Slams on the men's side at 22, but the oft-injured Spaniard may not have many more bites left at the apple at age 36. Then there's Novak Djokovic, who will have a chance to tie Nadal's total here…if he's allowed to play.
While Djokovic's status is still up in the air just days before the tournament, a few big names have unfortunately already been ruled out. The notable men's absentees include Roger Federer (knee), Alexander Zverev (ankle), Kei Nishikori (hip), Gael Monfils (heel), Reilly Opelka (heel). On the women's side, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (knee) and Marketa Vondrousova (wrist) won't play, Jennifer Brady (foot/knee) seems unlikely to take the court after missing the past year, and both Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber are pregnant. Besides the players listed above, some others have been battling smaller injuries, so make sure to double check any player's health status before betting on them at any of the best sports betting sites.
Betting on the women's draw is pretty straightforward. Iga Swiatek's the player to beat, and while she's less dominant on hard courts than clay, she's also more comfortable than on grass. As a result, Swatek's the favorite compared to any other individual but not against the field. If Djokovic plays, he'll be the clear men's favorite. If not, defending champions Daniil Medvedev will head up the short list of men with a realistic chance of taking home the title. After each player's name, you will see their title odds from DraftKings Sportsbook (DK), FanDuel Sportsbook (FD), BetMGM Sportsbook (BetMGM) and Caesars Sportsbook (Caesars) in that order.
The odds can vary quite substantially, especially for long shots, so you are encouraged to shop around for the best lines if you have access to multiple betting platforms. FanDuel in particular has some juicy odds on underdogs, while BetMGM offers the highest payouts on some of the favorites. This is why it is important for signing up at multiple sportsbooks, so you can get the best odds and take advantage of welcome bonuses. For example, you can use the BetMGM bonus code ROTOBONUS to get a risk-free bet in eligible states - and compare those odds with your DK and FD accounts.
Will Novak Djokovic Play the US Open?
The biggest storylines in both the men's and women's draws are obvious. For the women, it's Serena Williams' farewell tour. On the men's side, it's whether Novak Djokovic [DK: (+150), FD: (+135), BetMGM: (+160), Caesars: (+150)] will be allowed to play. His title odds reflect that uncertainty, as the unvaccinated Serb would be the overwhelming favorite if he's allowed to travel to the United States. Djokovic was denied the 2021 calendar Grand Slam by Daniil Medvedev at last year's US Open and has "only" won this tournament three times, but he has emerged victorious at four of the last six Grand Slams in which he participated.
On the flip side, if Djokovic can't play, every other man's title odds would get a major boost, so it's worth locking in wagers on others now before a ruling on Djokovic's eligibility is put forth. Welcome to sports betting in 2022, where tracking CDC travel restrictions is just as important as monitoring on-court results. Based on the currently available information, it appears Djokovic is more likely to be held out than allowed to play, but that could change at a moment's notice.
The (non-Djokovic) Favorite
Daniil Medvedev [DK: (+175), FD: (+160), BetMGM: (+240), Caesars: (+225)] - Medvedev has been a mainstay in the business end of hard court Grand Slams, making the finals in four of the last six Australian or US Opens and winning this tournament last year for his first major title. The Russian is ranked No. 1 in the world heading into his title defense, but Medvedev's level of late hasn't been befitting of that distinction. After winning a hard court ATP 250 title in Los Cabos, Medvedev lost to Nick Kyrgios in Montreal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Cincinnati. He'll be the man to beat if Djokovic isn't here, but Medvedev's hardly a lock for the title, especially after Nadal beat him at the Djokovic-less Australian Open this year.
In the Mix
Rafael Nadal [DK: (+450), FD: (+490), BetMGM: (+500), Caesars: (+500)] - Nadal has historically managed his body much better at this tournament than at the Australian Open, winning the US Open on four previous occasions. He would have liked to get more matches in between his abdominal injury at Wimbledon and now, but losing to Borna Coric in his first match at Cincinnati doesn't look so bad considering Coric went on to win the title. Nadal looked healthy, though understandably rusty, in that one. Unless he gets a brutal early draw, the Spaniard should be able to play his way into form, and it's hard not to like his chances at these odds given his 19-0 record in Grand Slams this year. You can bet on Nadal at Caesars Sportsbook using the Caesars Sportsbook promo code ROTOFULL, which gets you a first bet on Caesars worth up to $1,250. His odds (+500) are the longest on Caesars, so it gives you the best return should he win the tournament.
Carlos Alcaraz [DK: (+500), FD: (+550), BetMGM, (+500), Caesars: (+350)] - Alcaraz has all the tools to achieve greatness, and it's likely just a matter of time before the 19-year-old Spaniard starts to win Grand Slams. His best results have come on clay, but Alcaraz won the Miami Masters 1000 earlier this year on hard courts, so he's no slouch on this surface. Alcaraz's fiery personality and exciting game style make him a perfect fit for New York, and he'll feed off the crowd in tough matches. That formula worked well for Alcaraz in his first career US Open appearance last year, when Alcaraz defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarterfinals.
Nick Kyrgios [DK: (+700), FD: (+700), BetMGM: (+600), Caesars: (+700)] - Kyrgios can beat anybody on any given day due to his dominant serve, and the enigmatic Aussie has had his head in the game more often than not lately after holding himself back for years. The upside here is tantalizing, especially with Kyrgios coming off a run to the Wimbledon final, but his body isn't used to playing deep into tournaments week in and week out. He started looking noticeably stiff and sore in Canada and Cincinnati, losing rather handily to Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz, respectively. Now that he's more contender than sleeper, Kyrgios isn't much of a value proposition.
Another contender to fade is Stefanos Tsitsipas [DK: (+1200), FD: (+1400), BetMGM: (+1000), Caesars: (+1200)]. On the bright side, he recently reached a hard court Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati and seemed to find success with a deeper return position similar to the one he utilizes on clay. However, Tsitsipas has never been past the third round of the US Open in four previous tries, nor has he won an outdoor hard court title in his career.
Taylor Fritz [DK: (+1800), FD: (+2200), BetMGM: (+2000), Caesars: (+2000)] - The world's top-ranked American is enjoying a breakout season at age 24. Fritz has climbed to No. 12 in the world and won a hard court Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells earlier this year. His results in August included wins over Nick Kyrgios and Andrey Rublev, as well as a comeback from 4-0 down in the third to beat Frances Tiafoe, so Fritz should have plenty of confidence down the stretch in close matches.
Borna Coric [DK: (+2500), FD: (+3200), BetMGM: (+2500), Caesars: (+2500)] - After an extensive recovery from a shoulder injury, Borna was reborn in Cincinnati, as his mid-August march to the title there was among the most impressive individual tournaments in recent history. Coric beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, then notched five consecutive top-20 wins, beating Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Of all those players, only Nadal managed to win a single set against Coric.
The 25-year-old Croat's ranking rose from No. 152 to No. 29 as a result of winning the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, so he'll be seeded here and avoid the possibility of facing a top player early. Coric experimented with different racquets and string tensions during his layoff and arrived at a combination that allowed him to substantially beef up his power, especially on serve, with a minimal sacrifice to control. He reached a ranking as high as No. 12 in the world prior to getting injured, but it's not a stretch to say the level he played at in Cincinnati was the highest of his career.
Pablo Carreno Busta [DK: (+6500), FD: (+6500), BetMGM: (+3300), Caesars: (+10000)] - Coric's Masters 1000 title in August was flashier, but Carreno Busta's was perhaps a better precursor of his chances at the US Open, as the Canadian Open courts historically play at a similar speed to those at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center while those in Cincinnati are noticeably faster. The Spaniard's notable victims in Montreal included Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz, and Carreno Busta has a history of US Open success. He's a two-time semifinalist here and had a two-set lead over Alexander Zverev in the 2020 semifinal after beating Djokovic via default in the Round of 16 that year.
Marin Cilic [DK: (+5000), FD: (+5000), BetMGM: (N/A), Caesars: (+6500)] - BetMGM doesn't even list Cilic as an option, despite having the injured Federer and Nishikori as available title picks. That's indicative of just how overlooked the 2014 US Open champion is heading into this event, despite making his sixth career Grand Slam semifinal earlier this year at the French Open. Cilic subsequently got COVID-19 soon after that French Open run, but he returned to play the Canadian Open and Cincinnati in August. If Djokovic can't play, Cilic will be one of just five male participants whose name is printed on the US Open's grey goose honey deuce cups. Of those former champions, Cilic is much more of a contender right now than Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka or Dominic Thiem.
*Note: Caesars Sportsbook's women's title odds were not showing at press time and thus weren't included below
Iga Swiatek [DK: (+300), FD: (+410), BetMGM: (+450)] - Swiatek lost to Beatriz Haddad Maia and Madison Keys in Canada and Cincinnati, so she has shown some vulnerability recently after looking almost unbeatable earlier this year. The world No. 1 complained about the balls used during those tournaments being too light, favoring power players like Keys at the expense of precise point constructors like Swiatek. While Swiatek will have to deal with those same balls here, she's certainly capable of overcoming that obstacle considering she reeled off a 37-match winning streak earlier this year that included hard court WTA 1000 titles at the Qatar Open, Indian Wells and Miami.
In the Mix
Simona Halep [DK: (+700), FD: (+750), BetMGM: (+700)] - The US Open has historically been Halep's least successful Grand Slam, but the two-time major champion is a former semifinalist at this event and has played some excellent hard-court tennis this summer, most notably winning the Canadian Open in Toronto. She pulled out of Cincinnati early due to a thigh injury, but that was likely just a precautionary move, so the seventh-ranked Romanian should be all systems go for the final Grand Slam of 2022.
Coco Gauff [DK: (+1400), FD: (+1400), BetMGM: (+1400)] - Like Alcaraz, it would be extremely surprising if Gauff never broke through at the Grand Slam level, but she may not quite be ready to do so. The 18-year-old American reached the final of the French Open this year but took just four games off Swiatek in the championship match, though that says as much about Swiatek's dominance on clay as it does about Gauff's own abilities. Gauff's athleticism gives her a chance against anybody, though her second serve remains a weakness, so she'll need to serve well in big matches. Gauff will also hope to avoid Halep, who has won all four of their career encounters without dropping a set, including three this year.
Caroline Garcia [DK: (+1600), FD: (+1800), BetMGM: (+1400)] - Nobody's hotter than Garcia heading into the US Open. The 28-year-old Frenchwoman capped July by beating Iga Swiatek on the World No. 1's home turf en route to the Polish Open title, then bounced back from a first-round loss to compatriot Alize Cornet in Canada by winning eight consecutive matches en route to the Cincinnati title (two in qualifying, six in the main draw). Confidence is so important in tennis, and Garcia has plenty of it at the moment. Winning Cincinnati also boosted her ranking to No. 17, which should ensure an easier path through the early rounds for Garcia.
A few other players reside in the same odds range as Gauff and Garcia, including 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina [DK: (+1200), FD: (+1400), BetMGM: (+1400)], four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka [DK: (+1600), FD: (+1600), BetMGM: (+1400)] and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu [DK: (+1600), FD: (+1800), BetMGM: (+1400)]. Rybakina's serve-reliant game doesn't work as well on hard courts as grass, Osaka's just 2-6 since the start of April and Raducanu has lost in the second round of all three other Grand Slams in 2022.
Karolina Pliskova [DK: (+2500), FD: (+2800), BetMGM: (+2200)] - Arguably the best player on the WTA Tour without a Grand Slam title, Pliskova will be hoping to pass that bittersweet distinction onto somebody else. The big-serving Czech has had an underwhelming season after dealing with a hand injury for much of the year, but she played her best tennis of 2022 in Toronto, dropping just two games against Amanda Anisimova before beating Maria Sakkari en route to the semifinals of the Canadian Open. Pliskova reached the US Open final in 2016 and has made the quarterfinals in three of the five years since, so she's closer to a contender here than her title odds suggest.
Madison Keys [DK: (+3000), FD: (+2900), BetMGM: (+2000)] - Keys has made many a deep run on hard courts before, as the talented American can beat anybody when she's on her game. Her recent semifinal showing in Cincinnati, which included back-to-back straight sets wins over Swiatek and Rybakina, got Keys' ranking back up into the top 20 heading into the US Open. Keys also made the semifinals of the previous hard court Grand Slam at the 2022 Australian Open and reached the US Open final back in 2017 before losing to Sloane Stephens. The 27-year-old American only has one gear, so she can get in trouble when her timing falls off, but a two-week hot streak isn't out of the question for Keys, whose A-game outright overpowers even quality opponents.
Serena Williams [DK: (+3500), FD: (+5000), BetMGM: (+2000)] - Last but not least, there's Serena. The 40-year-old all-time great no longer has the aura of invincibility that surrounded her for most of the past two decades, but trying to close out Serena at the US Open in what could be the last match of her career won't be an easy task mentally, especially for younger players who grew up watching her. Williams has gone just 1-3 since making her return from a hamstring injury at Wimbledon, and her footwork resembles that of a club player at this point, but Serena can still serve her way out of trouble and control points with her immense power off the ground. Nadal overcame the odds to win the Australian Open this year, and while Serena's chances going into this tournament seem significantly lower than Nadal's were then, the great ones just find a way to win, so don't be too quick to write off the possibility of a storybook ending.
Sasha's Picks to Win the US Open:
If Djokovic plays, it's his tournament to lose, but I don't think he'll be allowed to do so. Without him, I expect a Spaniard to win the title. Nadal is undefeated at Grand Slams in 2022 and beat Medvedev in Australia, so I think he'll get it done if his body doesn't betray him, while Alcaraz will be waiting to pounce if one of Nadal's numerous injuries flares up.
With Swiatek looking a little off lately, Halep's solid game and mental toughness make her the title favorite in my eyes, and she's a wonderful value pick considering her title odds are the same as Nick Kyrgios' on the men's side. Keep an eye on Pliskova and Keys, who both have much lower floors than Halep but plenty of hard-court success and motivation to finally get over the hump at a Grand Slam.