Tough to Look Past Djokovic and Nadal For the Australian Open

With Andy Murray returning from injury, Djokovic and Nadal are the outstanding favourites

With Andy Murray returning from injury, Djokovic and Nadal are the outstanding favourites

There are essentially three groups of players in men’s tennis at the moment: the three actual contenders, the five or six who will come close but lose out in the quarter or semi finals, and then the other 3.5 billion males on the planet. It’s very hard to see anyone outside of that top group winning.

Australian Open Betting Odds

Novak Djokovic – 1.80

Rafael Nadal – 3.50

Andy Murray – 8.00

(Odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Heatwaves of temperatures above 30°C, such as those seen at Wimbledon, would melt in the heatwaves here. They broke an egg open and fried it on a court a few years ago– usually you’ve got to do that in a pan, and we know how hot those need to be to fry an egg.

Naturally, it takes endurance to advance, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic literally, but not literally, have endurance in bucketloads. It’s difficult to pick between the two, but I’d go with Djokovic – he’s making a habit of winning in Melbourne, and finished last year off nicely with a win at the ATP World Tour Finals.

The other man, returning from back surgery, is three-time runner-up Andy Murray. Indeed, the Scot has said that he didn’t “come back [from injury] just to play a match. If I come back I want to be in the shape to win it.” Given his condition coming into the tournament, and a propensity to come up second here, he’s likelier to lose an epic in the semis than go all the way and win the thing.

Roger Federer’s win at Wimbledon in 2012 was impressive, but didn’t quite spark the renaissance that everyone was hoping for. The Swiss continued his decline in 2013, maintaining his record of ten consecutive Australian Open semi-final appearances since 2004 but failing to impress at any other Grand Slam, crashing out in the second round at Wimbledon and only reaching the quarter finals in New York. In unpredictable form, Federer is an outside bet to reach the final, but will likely struggle against Nadal or Djokovic if – and let’s face it, when – he meets them earlier in the tournament.

Beyond the main contenders are the perennial semi-finalists, Del Potro, Wawrinka, Tsonga, Berdych and Ferrer – the Spaniard is the third seed, but it’s something of a false position. You can guarantee one of the five will come up against Lleyton Hewitt, and it’s a damn-near certainty that one of them will make up the numbers in the semis.

They’re all long shots for a reason. When the Australian Open has thrown up those underdog finals over the last ten years – think Federer v. Gonzalez and Baghdatis, or Djokovic v. Tsonga – the favourite has always won. And so onto the Australian. Hewitt, held together by weekly surgeries and the hope of a nation, is usually good for a shock win over a seed in the second round, and then an entirely predictable loss to a household name from a country that doesn’t have many houses in the third.

If Hewitt is set for a matchup with any recognisable name in the second round, he’s worth backing. If nothing else, there are worse ways to spend a few hours than watching Lleyton Hewitt slog out a five setter in front of a raucous Melbourne crowd, an Australian Open tradition stretching back to the early Mesozoic. Said Hewitt in November, “With the right draw and a bit of luck, you never know.” And why not? On the day Australia reclaimed the Ashes – 5-0, thanks for coming – Hewitt beat Roger Federer in Brisbane. That has to count for something. Yeah, I know that it doesn’t.

The other Australian hopeful is the “mercurial” [read: the next Mark Philippoussis] Bernard Tomic – “The next best [Australian] player,” according to an entirely serious Hewitt. A lazily stylish Tomic, straddling the line between becoming the next Australian in the top ten and the next former tennis star to feature on a reality television dating show,  faces a tough first round match against Nadal, though he can be dangerous with his tail up.

The women’s field, like most of the WTA tournaments, isn’t easy to pick. Simply, if one or two real contenders go out – and every second tournament the commentators will lament the fall of the favourites – anyone can win. Those two contenders must surely be Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams: Azarenka grinds her way to finals unless she collapses spectacularly at an earlier stage, while Williams grinds her way to finals unless she collapses spectacularly at an earlier stage – it’s shaping up to be a thrilling tournament of quality tennis, and we’ll all be wondering where the days went when Williams lifts the cup and thanks Jehovah at the end of it all.

The local favourite is Samantha Stosur, who has shown indifferent form since her success in New York in 2011, and win or lose is certain to frustrate the Australian public out of loving her at some stage. Here’s the tip with Stosur: if a match looks like it will be ludicrously easy for her, you can probably count on her to lose it.

Betting Instinct Tip – Victoria Azarenka to win the Australian Open women’s tournament is 5.00 with AllYouBet.ag

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.

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