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Tough US Open draw for Murray despite Nadal withdrawal

The big news ahead of the 2014 US Open was the withdrawal of world number two a defending Flushing Meadows champion Rafael Nadal. However, the loss of the Spaniard has certainly not been Andy Murray’s gain.

Superstar Scotsman Murray has slipped down to number nine in the ATP rankings, and has been seeded eighth this year for the final Grand Slam of the season. Despite that, Coral have priced him as third-favourite to lift his second US Open title at 11/2.

Murray, who has not won an ATP event since his 2013 Wimbledon triumph, has been placed in the same quarter as world number one and top seed Novak Djokovic. However, the likes of Robin Haase, Radek Stepanek, Fernando Verdasco and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stand in his way before then. Murray is odds-on at 4/5 to be eliminated in the last eight, 9/1 in the fourth round and 11/2 in the semis.

Djokovic (5/4 favourite), though, has not been in the best of form following his epic victory over Roger Federer at SW19 at the last Slam. The runner-up of the last two US Opens suffered early tournament defeats to Tommy Robredo at Cincinnati, and was battered by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Rogers Cup.

The Serb is currently on seven Grand Slams and victory here at Flushing Meadows will see him surpass greats John McEnroe and Rene Lacoste, and join the likes of Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Fred Perry.

With Murray and Djokovic likely to meet in the quarter-finals, that could play to the advantage of third seed Stan Wawrinka, who could face one of the duo after a potentially draining scrap. The Swiss is one of only two people out of the last 38 Grand Slams to have claimed a title, besides the ‘big four’ of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray, and is a 12/1 chance to add to his Australian Open triumph this year.

Wawrinka’s compatriot Federer has the easier route to the final, though. The 17-time Grand Slam champion has showed glimpses of his old self this season, taking Djokovic to five sets at Wimbledon and winning the recent Cincinnati event. The all-time great is 11/4 second-favourite to claim his sixth US Open, and first since 2008.

Other outsiders to consider in the men’s draw for this year include Grigor Dimitrov (14/1), Tsonga and Milos Raonic (both 20/1).

In the Ladies’ singles section, look no further than Serena Williams, who is bidding for her third straight US Open title. The five-time Flushing Meadows champion goes up first against compatriot Taylor Townsend, and is 6/4 favourite to win the tournament.

Home British hope Heather Watson, meanwhile, faces Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the first round, and is odds-on at 4/9 to beat her. Watson is a 400/1 shot to lift the trophy.

Other top chances for the US Open are 2006 champion Maria Sharapova (6/1), ever-improving Romanian Simona Halep (7/1), current Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova (9/1) and Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard (12/1).