The former Indian tennis star says it’s a one-horse race in the men’s event but reckons the US Open is wide open in the women’s.
Fresh from his Cincinnati Masters title, three-time US Open winner Novak Djokovic is an overwhelming favourite at the Grand Slam, which is without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the first time since 1999.
Though there is still competition in the form of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Andy Murray, Mahesh Bhupathi believes the in-form Serbian ace is hard to stop.
“I think it is a one-horse race in the men's event now and Novak Djokovic is the favourite,” Mahesh Bhupathi told Mudit Dani in his Instagram live chat show Sportlight.
“Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka are not playing while Andy Murray is only half-way on his return to full fitness.
“Novak is playing at an extremely high level now and I think it will be tough for Dominic Thiem or Mischa Zverev to pull off a surprise in a five-set match," Bhupathi added.
The competition, however, is likely to be intense in the women’s category considering the legendary Serena Williams’ last Grand Slam win came at the 2017 Australian Open. It’s why Bhupathi sides with the 2018 US Open winner to repeat her feat again.
“If I had to pick one, it will have to be Naomi Osaka," Bhupathi said. “In the women’s, the competition is wide open with Serena Williams not being able to get things going her way of late.”
Mahesh Bhupathi has won the US Open thrice - a doubles title in 2002 and mixed doubles titles in 1999 and 2005 - but is now seeing a product of his own academy at the Flushing Meadows grab headlines in India.
Sumit Nagal, who became the first Indian in seven years to win a singles round in a Grand Slam on Tuesday, has been shaped by the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy that helps spot and nurture tennis talent in India.
“Our academy is about putting a racket in kids’ hands to encourage them to pick up the sport. That’s the first step,” Bhupathi said. “Once we find someone ultra-talented, we’ll try and support them as much as we can.
“We had picked Sumit Nagal when he was 11 years old and today he is the number one player in India and the only one from the country competing in singles at the US Open,” Bhupathi pointed out.
Sumit Nagal will face world No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the second round of the US Open on Thursday.