Matchbook’s Cian Kirby looks to get 2019 off to a flyer with a big priced winner in his preview of the Australian Open.
The wait is finally over and the tennis season gets into full swing this week with the Australian Open taking place on the hard courts at Melbourne Park. It’s the first major of the year, and with the usual big guns all set to take part, we look set for an exciting fortnight of action down under.
It’s no surprise to see Novak Djokovic (2.22) head the market as he attempts to win his seventh Australian Open and fifteenth major title. The Serb started slowly last season but is attempting to win his third Grand Slam in a row after winning Wimbledon and the US Open championships. Crucially the Australian Open has been his most successful major and he will be difficult to beat on his favoured surface.
His biggest threat, according to the markets, comes in the shape of Roger Federer (6.2) who is bidding for his seventeenth major win. The Swiss maestro is not getting any younger at the age of thirty seven, but he is more than capable of competing at the top level as he bids to win his third Australian Open title in a row and seventh in total.
Behind him we have Rafael Nadal (13.5) who has only won the Australian Open once and that was ten years ago, but he has been a beaten finalist three times so he knows how to get into contention. The Spaniard has won on all surfaces including Wimbledon and the US Open, but he is most at home on clay in Paris where he has won the French Open in 11 of the last 14 years.
Finishing out the top four in the market is Alexander Zverev (17.0), who is very much the rising star on the men’s ATP Tour. The 21-year-old has yet to get beyond the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam but he has already won an impressive ten ATP Tour titles. The German star beat Djokovic to win the ATP Tour Finals in November in his biggest victory to-date and confirmed he is ready to mix it with the best in the world.
THE FOUR QUARTERS
The draw is broken up into four quarters with each quarter of the draw comprised of a series of four knockout rounds before a quarterfinal showdown. There’s a ton of potential highlights from these so let’s crack on and get stuck into the action.
Novak Djokovic is an overwhelming favourite to win this quarter and will be a tough nut to crack. The Serb suffered a surprise straight sets loss to Hyeon Chung last year and lost out in a five set thriller to Denis Istomin in 2017, which causes some concern he may not be at the peak of his power in the early stages of the season.
Kei Nishikori arrives in excellent form after winning his first ATP Tour title since 2016 at the Brisbane International. His most notable performance in Grand Slams came in 2014 when he reached the US Open final and he has a good record in Melbourne, having made it to the quarter-finals three times, so he looks a viable contender in this quarter.
Others to note in this quarter are 2009 finalist Jo Wilfried Tsonga and the up and coming Daniil Medvedev who will be eager for a piece of the limelight.
The second quarter is not lacking depth and the betting suggests it will be highly competitive.
Alexander Zverev showed his class by winning the ATP Tour Finals last year and I expect the German to put his poor major record behind him and make it to the semifinals this year.
Zverev’s route to the semifinals includes playing two unseeded players followed by, at worst, Gilles Simon, Milos Raonic or Dominic Thiem.
Dominic Thiem shouldn’t be easily dismissed as he is currently eighth in the world rankings having risen as high as fourth in 2017. But the Austrian’s record in Melbourne is poor as he has yet to get beyond the fourth round and he looks more suited to the clay where he reached the semi-finals of the French Open in the last three years and was losing finalist in 2018 which are all games he is well capable of winning.
Three time major winner Stan Wawrinka cannot be dismissed either and local boy Nick Kyrgios will be hoping the fans get behind him as tries to fulfil the tennis potential he showed from an early age.
Roger Federer has been given a kind draw and sits on the opposite half to Zverev and Djokovic. Also positive news is that the Swiss legend may avoid playing a top flight player until the final as Rafa Nadal still recovers from injury and is by no means a gimme to get to the semi finals
The market has seemingly overlooked the tennis legend and odds of 7.0 look very attractive on him to land the spoils.
The prospect of a Federer vs Djokovic final is one tennis fans can only dream of and it certainly whets the appetite.
Look out for Marin Cilic who won the US Open back in 2014. The Croatian lost to Federer in the final of last year’s Australian Open, which was the first time he had gotten beyond the fourth round in Melbourne since 2010.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the improving Karen Khachanov who won three ATP Tour titles last year on hardcourts. The Russian will be hoping to get past the second round of a major for the first time in his career.
Recommended Bet – Back Roger Federer to win the Australian Open outright at 6.2
Rafael Nadal will be hoping to shrug off some fitness concerns, which is nothing new for the Spaniard, with the world number two having ankle surgery in November. As a result, he has drifted considerably in the market and in truth, Rafa looks up against it here so I am more than happy to avoid him this week.
Kevin Anderson has been a finalist at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows but has never got beyond the fourth round at Melbourne Park in ten previous visits. The South African arrives in good form having already won the Maharashtra Open in India this year and remains a lively danger in this quarter.
Dual semifinalist Tomas Berdych will be hoping for another bold showing again. While the big-hitting John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov are other opponents to be wary of.
- Back Roger Federer to win the Australian Open outright at 6.2 (2pts)