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 No.2 Rafa
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," McEnroe said in a conference call with TV channel ESPN for
whom he will be working as a commentator during the year's final
"I would give a slight, slight favorite 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.
"Depending on what happens leading up to it if they were to play in
the final, some of it would have to do with how much was left in the
tank from previous matches."
Djokovic beat Federer in an epic Wimbledon final but the
27-year-old, who has just married long-time girlfriend Jelena
Ristic, lost early in Toronto and Cincinnati and McEnroe believes
the Serb has lost focus.
"I don't think Novak's mind has been into it since - it was one of
the greatest matches I ever saw at Wimbledon," he said. "He got
married. 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."
It is no foregone conclusion that Djokovic and Federer will contest
the final, though.
McEnroe believes Briton Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, can use the
U.S. 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 eight in
New York because of Nadal's wrist injury.
"I think that if you look at it, he's not that far away," McEnroe, a
four-times U.S. Open champion, said.
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"It depends if you only look at the glass half empty or half
full, and people do both. But given the fact that he had a surgery
on his back, which is pretty serious, if you look at his results at
the majors, he wasn't that far off.
"He's putting himself in the position slowly but surely. To me, he's
the third favorite to win this tournament. Depending on how the draw
pans out, you would absolutely anticipate that he's going to be a
factor in this event."
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
"He hasn't been the same since," McEnroe said. "He doesn't seem to
be able to handle the attention in a way."
Federer will be playing his 60th consecutive grand slam at the U.S.
Open - a feat McEnroe labels heroic.
"It's obviously remarkable and unbelievable that he's been able to
do this consistently well for this long," said the American. "To do
that, 60 majors in a row, is heroic in a way. It should not be
underestimated or under-appreciated by tennis fans."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London. Editing by Patrick Johnston)
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