McEnroe favours Djokovic over Federer for US Open

Former champion cites age factor and stamina as reason for prediction.

Reuters August 21, 2014

NEW YORK: Roger Federer is the form player going into next week’s US Open but Novak Djokovic is favourite to win the title for a second time, according to former champion John McEnroe.

Federer, who reigned supreme at Flushing Meadows with five consecutive titles from 2004, won the Cincinnati title last week on the back of reaching the final in Toronto and with world number two Rafael Nadal injured, many believe the 33-year-old Swiss maestro can claim an 18th grand slam title.

“Obviously not having to deal with Nadal is a huge positive for him potentially down the road if he’s at a stage at the end of the event,” said McEnroe, in a conference call with TV channel ESPN.

“I would give a slight favourite to Djokovic based on it being best-of-five. He’s younger and he can go the distance perhaps a little bit more easily than Roger at this stage. A little bit.”

Djokovic beat Federer in an epic Wimbledon final but the 27-year-old lost early in Toronto and Cincinnati and McEnroe believes the Serb has lost focus.

“I don’t think Djokovic’s mind has been into it since — it was one of the greatest matches I ever saw at Wimbledon,” he said. “I didn’t see a lot of his matches since, but I saw a few. I think it was difficult for him to get back into the swing of things. I believe he’ll be ready here.”

Murray third favourite for McEnroe

It is no foregone conclusion that Djokovic and Federer will contest the final. McEnroe believes Briton Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, can use the US Open to spark a long-awaited return to form, while he also tips Canada’s Milos Raonic and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov to make strong runs on the New York cement.

Murray has not won a title since Wimbledon last year and has slipped to ninth in the world rankings, although he will be seeded eighth in New York because of Nadal’s wrist injury. “I think that if you look at it, he’s not that far away,” said McEnroe, a four-time US Open champion. “He’s putting himself in the position slowly but surely. To me, he’s the third favourite to win this tournament.”

However, Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka is struggling to back up his breakthrough moment and despite being seeded three, McEnroe is not expecting the Swiss to win a second grand slam of the year.

Federer will be playing his 60th consecutive grand slam at the US Open — a feat McEnroe labels heroic.“To do that, 60 majors in a row, is heroic in a way. It should not be underestimated or under-appreciated by tennis fans.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2014.

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