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Novak Djokovic
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Best Bet for US Open Men's Final

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: September 12, 2021, 10:51 am ET

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After all the ups and downs of the US Open, all the upsets and all the excitement, we're left with the top two seeds on the men's side, who will duke it out for the title. On one side, we have Novak Djokovic, whose quest for a 21st Grand Slam and a calendar Grand Slam has been well-documented. Then, there's the talented Daniil Medvedev, who is just hitting his prime and will vie for his first Grand Slam.

So, where do we go with this one? Is there value with the line so lopsided? Let's see which bet provides the most value here.

Novak Djokovic (-280) vs. Daniil Medvedev (+210)

When Novak Djokovic says he's going to give it all, you have no choice but to listen. The World No. 1 said on court after his thrilling semifinal win over Alex Zverev that he would play Sunday's final as if it were his last match ever, and that stuck with me. Djokovic's best game easily tops anyone's on tour, so knowing he will be locked in from the jump here helps us from a betting perspective.

Now, Djokovic isn't going out there trying to lose the first set, but the Serb dropping the opener in his last four matches has become a popular talking point. Perhaps he's taking it easy and feeling out his opponent, or perhaps his fellow competitors are getting nervous with the lead. Whatever the reason, his matches have followed a familiar pattern.

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I think Sunday should be different. He's facing a guy he just beat in straight sets in the Australian Open final, and who he took down 3-1 down under in 2019. In the three matches where Djokovic has had the most to play for — two Grand Slams and the ATP Cup, when he won the event for Serbia — he's covered the game spread and won in convincing fashion.

That's because unlike Matteo Berrettini, or Alex Zverev, Medvedev doesn't have the big game to hit Djokovic off the court. He tries to out-smart his opponents and play consistent tennis without errors, which is the same exact style of play which Djokovic possesses.

The problem here is that he's just not as good at this as Djokovic, and his tennis has been sloppy over the last two matches. He almost let his quarterfinal against Botic Van De Zandschulp go five sets, which never should have happened, and would have dropped a set to Felix Auger-Aliassime if not for the young Canadian choking away two set points.

His tennis just has not been convincing, and he hasn't run through the type of competition that Djokovic has. Auger-Aliassime is a great matchup for Medvedev as a guy who folds as rallies wear on, and prior to that he hadn't faced anyone even close to him in ranking. Djokovic had to run through two of the biggest names in the game, along with one of the hottest players on tour in Jenson Brooksby and a former US Open finalist in Kei Nishikori. His road here has been arduous, and it's downright stunning he's done this well.

One thing that he's been great at is serving his way out of trouble and holding comfortably, and I'd actually give him an edge over Medvedev in that department given the Russian's inconsistencies all tournament long. I just think Medvedev has been too shaky with the serve and too error-prone to hang with Djokovic for more than four sets, and think this should pretty straightforward as the World No. 1 comes out hungry to make history.

Edge: Djokovic -1.5 Sets or Djokovic -4.5 Games

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.