After a turbulent 2020 season, the first major of the new year is upon us and we cannot wait for the world’s best players to be back at Melbourne Park battling for Grand Slam glory.
The Australian Open has been shifted back to February but most of the heavyweights of world tennis will be in the running for the 2021 title!
It will be an intriguing tournament due to many COVID variables that we haven’t seen before. Most of the players quarantined for two weeks leading into the tournament which would have undoubtedly disrupted the training loads and preparations for the tournament, so watch this space for a couple of upsets in the first week.
🎾 Australian Open Men's Draw
Despite the notable absence of Roger Federer, the men’s draw looks strong and shapes as one of the most even draws in recent memory. The last 12 months have shown that the gap between the ‘Big 3’ (or Big 2 for this event) and the rest is getting closer. Dominic Thiem broke through for his first major at the US Open, while the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas & Alexander Zverev have proven on a number of occasions that they can mix it with the big guys.
It’s no surprise that Novak Djokovic has opened as the short-priced favorite, his track record down under is insane, having won the title a record eight times. However, at the early price, I’m happy to bet around him. The chances are that if he makes the final, he’ll be around the -130 range in the H2H market on match day, so +110 for him to win seven matches on the trot is poison odds. His antics in quarantine along with the nasty looking hand blisters he suffered pre-tournament also have us concerned that he’ll be a bit distracted and we're going to take him on… for now.
While Rafa is also a champion of the game, his record in Australia isn’t as good as you’d expect. He’s won the AO title once, but has hit a roadblock in the second week of the tournament eleven times. He absolutely has the class to win, but at 34 years old a couple of the next-gen might have gone past him on the hard courts.
Daniil Medvedev (+550) is the main one I’m happy to have a little play on. He looks primed to break through for his first major after knocking on the door for nearly two years. He’s already won a title in Australia at the Sydney International in 2018 when he was only 22 and his recent record playing on the indoor hard courts cannot be questioned. He finished the 2020 season with a bang by beating Zverev, Djokovic, Schwartman, Nadal and Thiem in consecutive matches to claim the Nitto Finals title. He also won the Paris Masters title before that which means he finished the calendar year with 10 consecutive wins. Now, that’s good form!
Dominic Thiem is the other one I’m keen to follow at +600. After breaking through at the US Open, the floodgates might open and he could earn himself a couple of majors in quick succession. His game on the hard courts has improved out of sight and he’ll be looking to go one better after finishing runner-up to Novak last year.
As for a couple of dark horses at big odds, I’m happy to root for Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1600) at a price. He burst onto the scene in 2019 making it through to the AO semi-finals and as a player with plenty of talent, it might all fall into place for him this year. If you’re looking even more value, you could do plenty worse than backing big serving Canadian, Milos Raonic. He has consistently gone deep into the tournament (four quarter finals and a semi final since 2015) and is a huge price at +4100. Although your money might be safer backing him in exotic markets such as ‘stage of elimination’ or ‘to win quarter’ when they become available.
🏆 Top Pick:
Daniil Medvedev (+500 or 5/1)
💰 Value Bet:
Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1600 or 16/1)
🔮 Dark Horse:
Milos Raonic (+4000 or 40/1)
🎾 Australian Open Women’s Draw
As has been the case for the last couple of years, trying to find the winner on the women’s side of the draw has been an absolute lottery. Dating back to 2017, only Simona Halep (2) and Naomi Osaka (3) have won multiple slams, which is the polar opposite to the men’s draw with the ‘Big 3’ winning all majors bar one. Sofia Kenin was the surprise packet last year winning her first major at age 21 and with the limited preparation coming into the tournament, it may be even more unpredictable this year!
Naomi Osaka opens as this year’s favorite at a very juicy odds of +700, followed by Aussie hopeful Ash Barty (+800). The Japanese national looks like the safest bet of the draw considering how wide open it is. At only 23 years-old, she has three majors under her belt, of which all of them have come on the hard courts at the Australian Open and US Open. Her game still has scope to continue to improve and at the price, she’s worth the risk. Barty will be carrying the weight of the nation, and while home crowd support can be a positive, the fact that she hasn’t played any competitive tennis since February 2020 due to the pandemic makes it hard to read how she will fare.
Serena Williams is also well fancied with the sportsbooks, sitting on the third or fourth line of betting (depending on the book) at around +1000. Her record at Melbourne Park speaks for itself, however at 39 years-old, we're not sure she’s got seven consecutive wins in her anymore and are happy to look elsewhere.
One we're happy to have a bet on at the current price is Simona Halep, who is a very appealing value at around the +1200 mark. She had a great tournament in 2020, not dropping a set all the way to the semi finals before going down to Garbine Mugaruza in a close match. She will be striving to go to the next level and lift the AO trophy.
Outside of Osaka and Halep, the chances are endless. But at the huge price of +5100, Elise Mertens looks over the odds. The World No.20 made the semi finals back in 2018 and has since followed it up with consecutive quarter finals appearances at the US Open. At the age of 25, she should be coming into the prime of her career and in a very even field it wouldn’t be a shock if she ran deep into the second week.
🏆 Top Pick:
Naomi Osaka (+700 or 7/1)
💰 Value Bet:
Simona Halep (+1200 or 12/1)
🔮 Dark Horse:
Elise Mertens (+5000 or 50/1)
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