Mats Wilander

Federer is back to his best and favourite for US Open

Mats Wilander

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Mats Wilander is Eurosport's tennis expert and a winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles

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Having won in Cincinnati last week and reaching the final of both his previous tournaments – the Rogers Cup and Wimbledon – Roger Federer is currently the best player in the world and is undoubtedly the form player heading into the US Open.

I think he’s the favourite. I do. I think he knows he's the favourite – because he’s won the US Open five times, more than any player in the field – now the fact Rafa is gone. There’s not one player at the US Open that he doesn’t think he can beat - even Djokovic.

If he has a good draw and doesn’t play too many long matches in the second week then he’s got a great chance of winning – which is very exciting.

With the fans, the wind and the five titles, I do believe he’s going to put it together. He’s going to show up and decide: ‘this is my last chance to win the US Open and I love it. I have four kids and New York is great.’ I think he’s going to be on fire and the crowd are going to get behind Roger more than any other player at the US Open – maybe in the history of the game. It is going to be completely one-sided.

If Federer wins in Flushing Meadows then it is down to two things; his decision to switch racquets – switching back to the bigger racquet - and his decision to call Stefan Edberg. He decided he wanted to improve one part of his game. You never know whether Stefan is going to be the right guy or not, but, after Wimbledon, I think he’s perfect.

Andy Murray

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Andy Murray has a decent chance in New York. It’s not a disaster to come into the US Open not necessarily having won a tournament and not having beaten a top player, because he’s played the top players. I think he’s looking good, he comes in with no pressure, and he comes in nine or 10 months after the surgery – that cannot be an excuse for him any more.

Admittedly, Murray may not be in the best form of late, but he's proven himself and now no one’s really asking him to do anything. It’s all up to him now – he’s going to have to prove to himself that he belongs at the top and win more than two majors.

Mentally and physically, after you have reached your destination, it’s not easy. I have a feeling of what he’s going through: after being world number one and winning the US Open motivation went out. You have to find another reason to try and want to win big tournaments and tennis matches. I think for Murray, it is not as clear cut why he is working as hard as he is and what he’s trying to achieve.

Despite that, I like his chances. I don’t know if he can win the tournament but he goes in under the radar with no pressure. But it's not inconceivable to think that he will win it. No one else is playing great apart from Federer, so I think Murray will look at that and think ‘I can beat everyone else. Djokovic is not playing well, Nadal is not here, I won here two years ago, so I’ll go in as one of the favourites.’ It’s just Federer he’ll be a little worried about.

And the rest...

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Obviously, Novak Djokovic, as the world number 1, must be considered - but he really isn't at the top of his game. So, this is the year that an outsider may have a chance. The likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and even Stanislas Wawrinka. They see Djokovic not playing so well, Nadal not playing at all and Murray not at the top, and they all have a feeling they can beat Federer on any day. So it’s very open.

At the Australian Open Dimitrov played a close match with Nadal, showing everyone that he's not far away. At the French Open, Gulbis made it to the semis. Raonic on clay was a big surprise. I don’t think there’s pressure. If there was just one player, it would be different. Julian Benneteau, Tsonga – everybody is proving to everybody that players behind the top are getting closer, and that hasn’t happened in six or seven years. This is the first year that’s it's really starting to be open. Anyone can beat anyone, pretty much.

If David Ferrer had played in another generation then he would have probably won a Grand Slam. On paper, there’s only one player he’ll be worried about and that’s Federer – and I don’t think he’s that worried about Federer. It’s very exciting – I think he has a good chance.

In terms of seeding this year, it doesn’t really matter. It’s an advantage to have a good draw, but it’s most probably a disadvantage to have your name in red and your opponent in black because suddenly you’re the favourite. The challenge is to not think about it too much. There is a lot of room for an outsider to make a huge impact – a fourth round, a quarter-final, maybe even further with a good draw…

And on the women's side...there's only Serena

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The women’s tournament is not open. It’s up to Serena Williams to prove to everybody else that she’s one of the greatest women’s players ever. The thought of winning the 18th title, equalling Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, at home is too perfect not to be a serious motivation for her. Again, it’s up to her. I think hard courts are most probably the best surface for her in terms of playing the most consistent tennis.

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