2022 Men’s Tennis Futures: Djokovic to Contend for Calendar Slam Again?
Credit: Andy Cheung, Getty Images. Novak Djokovic celebrates at the 2021 Australian Open.
With Daniil Medvedev’s US Open title that denied Novak Djokovic a historic calendar grand slam still at the fore of many tennis fans’ minds, I thought it would be worthwhile to see what oddsmakers think of both players’ chances at each slam in 2022.
This idea sent me down a rabbit hole of questions. How well did months/year in advance lines in the past reflect the actual champion in the coming tournaments? How well do favorites typically do at slams? Who are the biggest underdogs to win slams in recent years?
Read on to see the answers to those questions, thanks to archived futures odds via sportsoddshistory.com and BetMGM.
Full odds for each tournament can be found here.
The early line projects a repeat final of 2021 in which Medvedev faced off with Djokovic. Of course, the outcome of this final was far different to the one in Queens, with Djokovic earning a straight sets title that sparked his historic year.
Djokovic is a +125 favorite while Medvedev slots in behind him at +350. A group of Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas between +700 and +1000 follows.
If history tells us anything, it’s to buy into Djokovic whenever he plays in Melbourne. Djokovic has been the favorite in the prior three iterations of the Australian Open, and he’s converted on each opportunity. He’s won nine Australian Opens in total, the most he’s won at any slam.
The only reason he wasn’t the favorite in 2018 is because he was coming off of a 2017 that ended prematurely due to elbow problems. Djokovic wasn’t able to make a push for an underdog title, falling in the fourth round to Hyeon Chung.
Roger Federer was the biggest underdog of the past five years to win the tournament, pulling off a shocking run that initiated the “Neo-Federer” era in which he strung together 2.5 incredible years.
King of clay Nadal is favored for the fifth consecutive year, though his odds are longer than all 4 previous occasions. Djokovic is unsurprisingly the second-favorite as he comes off of a 2021 title that saw him defeat Nadal in the semifinals.
Clay-court specialist Tsitsipas is +350 but a big gap ensues after the Greek. Thiem has the next-best odds at +700, and Zverev is behind the world number 8 with a +1400 number.
If you thought Djokovic had a stranglehold on the Australian Open, take a look at Nadal at the French Open. Before his 2021 loss, the Spaniard had won nine of the previous 11 events and 13 of the previous 17. He’s only lost three times at Roland Garros, twice to Djokovic and once to Robin Soderling.
Because of his dominance, it’s hard to see value in picking underdogs to win. Outside of the shortest two dogs in Djokovic and Tsitsipas, you’re essentially counting on Nadal’s injury that forced him out of the rest of the 2021 season to linger into 2022. Other than that, Nadal’s record speaks for itself.
The famous grass-court tournament is another that Djokovic has had a stranglehold on for years, and oddsmakers don’t think anything is going to change in 2022.
Djokovic is a massive +100 favorite, far ahead of any competitor. Matteo Berrettini is the second-favorite at a whopping +800, while Medvedev is +900, and Nadal/Tsitsipas are both +1000. The Swiss maestro Federer follows behind at +1400.
It feels like every tournament is profitable for Djokovic bettors, but none in recent times have been more than Wimbledon, where he actually won the tournament as an underdog in 2018. London is also home to another three-peat for the world number one, thanks in part to a wild comeback he completed in 2019 from 40-15 down on return when Federer was serving for the match.
It’s a tournament that will haunt Fed fans, but it’s a testament to the unrivaled success that Djokovic has had in the past five years. No player in the sport has been more profitable to get on early and often in the futures market.
As everyone’s health currently stands, you’d have to back Djokovic to win another SW19 title, with Federer dealing with another knee surgery past the age of 40 and grass not being a preferred surface of Nadal who is dealing with a foot problem.
The two will be hard-pressed to challenge a healthy Djokovic, so Berrettini and Medvedev are likely the underdogs with the best chances of pulling off a big-time upset.
The only grand slam where underdogs have consistently been able to come through and win titles in the past four years has been the US Open. Despite being the favorite in four of the past five occasions, Djokovic has only won one title.
As may be the case for most hard court slams in the coming years, Djokovic and Medvedev are heavy favorites against the rest of the field. Djokovic is +130 while the 2021 champion is +225. Nadal, Zverev, Thiem and Tsitsipas bunch up from +800 to +1000 while Federer comes in behind them again at +1600.
Unlike the prior 3 slams, parity is present in New York. Whether it be because Djokovic was disqualified for hitting a lineswoman with a ball, or because tennis is a crazy sport, the tournament delivers upsets and underdog champions.
In 2020, it was the former that led to Thiem’s maiden grand slam title, but in 2021, 2019 and 2017 it was the latter.
Of course, the most recent iteration of the US Open saw Medvedev deny Djokovic a historic calendar slam in emphatic fashion, as the Russian took out Djokovic in 3 sets. Medvedev completely outplayed Djokovic, who looked as tight as he’s ever been in his career.
Defending a tournament is much harder than winning it once, however, as an added pressure is placed upon you after earning a slam. Thiem is a great example of this as he’s found it difficult to excel in any big tournament since winning the 2020 US Open.
The Austrian almost won the ATP Finals at the end of 2020 but fell to Medvedev in three tight sets. Outside of that, he only reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and suffered a shocking loss at the French Open to Pablo Andujar in the first round. An injury in Mallorca before Wimbledon has since forced him out of the rest of the season.
It all goes to say that there will be plenty of storylines to be evaluated when the grand slam season gets underway next year. For now, there is still a 2021 calendar to be concluded.