Novak Djokovic is on the march to a career Grand Slam but will have to be wary

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic will be looking to go one step further than he has in the past and lift the French Open title for the first time.

Seeded number one and going into the tournament on the back of five tournament wins in 2015 he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

The World number one has looked imperious this year, winning the first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, as well as two clay court titles on the way to the red blaze of Roland Garros.

ATP French Open Outright Betting Odds:

Novak Djokovic 4/5

Rafael Nadal 3/1

Andy Murray 8/1

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Everyone will obviously have one eye on the ‘King of Clay’, Rafael Nadal as he enters the fold to try and capture an unprecedented 10th title at his home from home. Form would tell you that he won’t be there come the final few days after some tough matches, including a straight sets defeat to Britain’s Andy Murray. You would be foolish to rule him out though and the occasion may spur him on to dizzy heights even if he is not at his brilliant best.

Talking of Andy Murray, many might think that the Dunblane man could be the one to watch. He’s on a fantastic run since wedding Kim Sears but others will put it down to his link-up with Jonas Bjorkman. He’s won two clay court titles in the lead up and although he pulled out of Rome Masters through fatigue, some will see this is sensible as he lines up for the gruelling competition that he has a record of only two semi-final performances. Wins over Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Nadal will up his confidence and he is out to win.

You simply cannot dismiss the world number two and the winner of the most male Grand Slams in the Open Era. Roger Federer hasn’t won one of the big four titles since Wimbledon in 2012 and the 33-year-old still looks as sharp as ever but despite three tournament wins this year, it’ll be hard for him to win his second title in Paris, the first coming in 2009 but again, you’d have to be a fool to rule him out of the running. If it was a horse race, you’d have him at each-way.

Looking at the rankings, there are a lot of names you can’t rule out but it is very difficult to pinpoint someone who will be able to go all the way.

Kei Nishikori has been a big revelation on the tour over the past couple of years but it will be tough going for the Japanese World Number five.

Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych may fancy a decent run after moving up to World number four but having Rafa Nadal seeded below his clay court pedigree will hamper those who have been performing well in 2015 so far, he could hurt them as early as the last 16.

The women’s draw is open to an extent but, for me, there are two players who will be fighting it out. Serena Williams continues to roll back the years but clay has never been her best surface. The American World number one has won just two titles here but the last one came just two years ago.

Maria Sharapova picked up the title last year with a straight sets win over Simona Halep and will be hoping that her ranking of two for the tournament will help her rack up her third French Open in four years.

Halep is one to watch. The Romanian is ranked third in the World and at 23, she should be coming to the peak of her powers. Winning Indian Wells will give her a boost going into this but her clay court form leaves a little to be desired.

Others to watch include the Spaniard Carle Suaraz Navarro, Eugenie Bouchard and 17th seed Sara Errani who has reached the final on one occasion.

It looks like it should be a final between the top two seeds but women’s tennis is never that simple.

Betting Instinct tip Maria Sharapova to retain her title is 4/1 with Intertops.eu

Paul F avatar PAUL FISHER is a sports journalist primarily working with the CelticLIVE App. He has covered sports for a number  of years and is particularly interested in bowls. Follow him on Twitter.

Advertisements

US Open Could Provide Last Hurrah For Federer

federer

There was a point in the mid-2000s where it appeared as though the evolution of tennis had stalled in the era of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, as the sport’s relative glass ceiling was raised to impossible heights. Between 2004 and 2010, the two shared 24 grand slam titles, meeting in the finals of Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the Australian Open on seven occasions – remember that most of those finals rank among the greatest matches ever played, and you can start to understand the depth of the rivalry that consumed men’s tennis over the last decade.

Now, it seems to have broken down. Neither man is the dominant force in men’s tennis, with Novak Djokovic properly interrupting the good thing that we all had going in 2011, as Federer’s form dropped with his ranking and Nadal felt the effects of his unsustainably physical game. In the years since the rivalry began to soften, eras have overlapped at such a rate that the word “era,” fairly impressive though it may be, isn’t really accurate any more. Andy Murray flirted briefly with success, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga threatened without threatening, and Djokovic has emerged as a survivor of the End Times, as Federer moves closer to retirement, and Nadal’s body gives up on him outside of Paris.

So it’s interesting to consider how the three players who have defined the last ten years of men’s tennis have approached this US Open: Djokovic as the favourite, Federer in sepia-tinted form, and Nadal not at all. The champion withdrew with a wrist injury, and while the consensus is that it is Djokovic’s tournament to lose, there’s also a feeling that it’s Federer’s to win.

 

US Open Betting Odds:

Novak Djokovic +125

Roger Federer +250

Andy Murray +700

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The Serbian world no.1 is already in the second round after a straight-sets win on the opening day, and shouldn’t be troubled until the semi finals. Nadal, were he not injured, would be in pretty much the same position, but things are different and we have to put up with another narrative. Djokovic lost in the final at Roland Garros and returned to no.1 with a victory at Wimbledon, and despite losing two of his last four matches, has started at Flushing Meadows as the best competitor in the field that has shown up to play. His robotic consistency stands him in good stead to reach the final despite a difficult draw heavy with perennial nearly-men (an effect of Nadal’s withdrawal and a subsequent shift in seeding) – by the end of the fortnight, we’ll have a much better idea of whether or not Djokovic is the irresistible power that men’s tennis is looking for.

Roger Federer is at, and has been for a few years now, at a strange point in his career where “we will have spent nearly as much time talking about his mostly graceful decline as we did his rise and reign,” in the words of Reeves Wiedeman. With Nadal out, however, this tournament provides Federer with a golden opportunity to prove wrong the friend who laughed at my suggestion that he might win – Federer, he says, like “a post-prime Muhammad Ali, floats like a butterfly and gets stung like Winnie the Pooh.”

 

It’s a fair assessment of the man who hasn’t won a major final since 2012, an almost isolated Wimbledon victory as his star faded. He’s 33, and only one man, Ken Rosewall in 1970, has won the US Open at an older age than Federer is now. He hasn’t featured in a final at Flushing Meadows since 2009, when he lost to Juan Martin Del Potro, though I guess it’s worth remembering that he won a record five straight US Open titles in the years before. He also reached the Australian Open semi final and the Wimbledon final earlier this year, and has moved up to number three in the ATP rankings. He’s as fit as he’s ever been, which always seems to be the case, and though they go astray more often than they used to, his shot-making is still as effective as it is aesthetic. Damn it, here comes the paragraph 180: Roger Federer can definitely win this tournament.

 

Should one of Federer or Djokovic run into trouble, then it’s anyone’s game – “anyone” here meaning four or five other men. Andy Murray struggled with cramp in his first round, four set win over Robin Haase, and can be reasonably be expected to reach the semi-finals. Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov would also be happy with places in the semis, while David Ferrer looks set to be happy just to be there. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, says my tennis coach – I can do one-handed backhands now – is also probably a pretty good shot to win, and he knows what he’s talking about when he’s talking about tennis.

In the women’s competition, everything is entirely dependent on whether or not Serena Williams has any interest in winning another major. Li Na isn’t in New York this year, and the American has been in typically dominant form on hard surfaces since failing to reach the quarter-final stage of any of the other grand slams this year, but that’s down to Jehovah sharing things around for once. That said, it’s worth looking at fifth seed Maria Sharapova and eighth seed Ana Ivanovic, simply because the women’s game is the most unpredictable sport on the planet. Sharapova didn’t play the US Open last year and has been unimpressive since her win at Roland Garros, but women’s tennis is the most unpredictable sport on the planet, and she’s already in the second round after roundly beating Maria Kirilenko 6-4 6-0 in the first.

Nadal should be back next year, as should Li Na, and order might return. For now, we can enjoy seedings warped by absence, and a tournament that might finally define an unpredictable 2014 season.

 

Betting Instinct tip Roger Federer to win his 18th grand slam at Flushing Meadows is 5/2 with Intertops.eu.

 

 

Max avatar MAX 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. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

French Open – key talking points

A fifth straight title for Rafael Nadal seems inevitable

A fifth straight title for Rafael Nadal seems inevitable

With the French Open well underway, the draws for the men’s and women’s singles tournaments couldn’t be more different.

On the women’s side the top two seeds – Serena Williams and Li Na – have both fallen to unexpected defeats in the first week. However in the men’s draw the all-conquering Rafa Nadal has been joined in the third round by last year’s losing finalist David Ferrer, as well as the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Murray. Of the top eight seeds, only Stanislas Wawrinka has been eliminated.

With that in mind, a few big questions remain about the second grand slam of 2014.

 

Is Nadal Unstoppable

While the other three grand slams have been shared between the world’s elite, few have an answer for Nadal on clay.

The 27-year-old has won at Roland Garros in eight of the last nine years and is pushing for a fifth consecutive title this time around. Robin Söderling is the only man to beat him at the French Open ever, which is quite a feat.

Neither Robby Ginepri nor Dominic Thiem ever looked like ending the Spaniard’s remarkable run, and it looks unlikely that third-round opponent Leonardo Mayer will do so either. On current form the Argentine will by lucky to take a set.

 

Can Ana Ivanovic cap her return to form?

Serbian star Ivanovic is one of only three former champions left in the women’s draw, and a strong showing in Paris could cap a stunning turnaround.

A rising star of the game when she won at Roland Garros in 2008, Ivanovic endured a tough and trophy-less year in 2013. However with the top three all out, she is returning to form at the right time.

Victory this week would send out a huge statement, and with wins in Auckland and Monterrey to add to an impressive quarter-final showing in the Australian Open, anything is possible

 

Will any French players impress?

While a home victory seems unlikely, there are a number of French talents looking to make a splash in Paris this fortnight.

In the women’s draw, the only French seed, Alizé Cornet, was knocked out in the second round. However 21-year-old Kristina Mladenovic is still standing and carrying the hopes of a nation along with Pauline Parmentier.

On the men’s side, home hopes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gaël Monfils and Richard Gasquet have all made it into the third round. However all face challenging opponents, not least Simon who goes up against number eight seed Milos Raonic.

Could one of the four upset the odds and make a run to the quarter-finals? With the backing of the home crowd, who knows.

Betting Instinct tip – Monfils and Gasquet to both win their matches on Saturday is 3.94 with GR88.com 

 

GR88.com is offering new players a 100% welcome bonus up to £100, to mark the start of a huge sporting summer. Next up after the French Open is the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and with it a chance to win $1,000,000 in GR88’s prediction challenge.

 

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

 

A tournament of shocks, but Nadal should beat Wawrinka in Australian Open final

Stan Wawrinka has improved on last year's US Open semi-final run, but this game could be one too many

Stan Wawrinka has improved on last year’s US Open semi-final run, but this game could be one too many

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disappointed that my predictions for this tournament fell apart at various points over the past two weeks, but I’m going to balance out my failings by deflecting the spotlight. The following “experts” also got it wrong with the Djokovic/Williams championship pairing: Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale, Bruce McAvaney and Pat Cash.

So if you want to compare me to Pat Cash, who won at Wimbledon and reached the Australian Open final twice, go for your life. I’m not complaining.

 

Australian Open Men’s Final Betting Odds

Rafael Nadal to win – 1.17

Stanislas Wawrinka to win – 5.00

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

 

We’re left with Stanislas “Stan” Wawrinka and Rafael “Nads” Nadal (Not sure anyone calls him this – ed.).  These are the two that came through the fire and brimstone of the first week at Melbourne Park, and have each managed wins over big seeds in their previous two matches. Of course, Stan won’t have enough for Nadal, because nobody ever does.

“But he beat Djokovic!” you cry, and even if you don’t, let’s pretend you do for the purpose of the point I’m about to make. Stan has never beaten Rafael Nadal. In his previous 12 matches with the Spaniard, Stan hasn’t even taken a set. They’ve played out six tiebreaks on hard courts, and Stan has never edged one.

 

This is the flipside of underdog finals: we love Stan, and hope the best for Stan, and so we like to think that Stan can do it, but reality gets in the way. Historically, the last game of the Australian Open isn’t the stage for an upset. Since the tournament moved from Kooyong to Melbourne Park in 1988, on only four occasions has the higher-seeded player in the final lost. Unless The Blister (which I feel is now wide and deep enough to refer to with capital letters) on his left hand decides to swallow his racquet, and with it the rest of the universe, Nadal shouldn’t have too many problems.

Calling specifics is a dangerous game in that I try my best not to look foolish, but I am somewhat obligated to actually suggest my tips as someone who, in some circles, has been compared to Pat Cash. I’d expect Stan to pick up a hard-fought set in the biggest match of his career to date, but Nadal should finish it in four. Temperatures bizarrely halved overnight at the end of the first week of play, so heat is no longer a factor, though Stan hasn’t had it easy. His last two wins have been gruelling – and occasionally spectacular – but it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to hold that level against the world number one who, like Wawrinka himself, is playing very close to his best.

 

Despite a certain inevitability about this match – Nadal loses and I’m made to look foolish – it should be entertaining. Looking for tennis? Look no further: they’ll be hitting balls really fast over a net, and that’s usually enough.

Betting Instinct Tip – Nadal to win in four sets is 3.25 with GR88.com

 

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.

The Australian Open’s most epic encounters

Younes El Aynaoui suffered an agonising defeat against Andy Roddick in 2003

Younes El Aynaoui suffered an agonising defeat against Andy Roddick in 2003

The Australian Open is set to enter the quarter-final stage next week, and we’ve already seen some real tests of endurance.

Home favourite Lleyton Hewitt succumbed to Andreas Seppi of Italy in heartbreaking fashion, staging a comeback from two sets down before falling 7-5 in the fifth, while Maria Sharapova battled soaring temperatures to edge past Karin Knapp 10-8 in the deciding set of her second round match.

Those defeats will have been tough to take for Hewitt and Knapp, and almost as tough for those of you who had bet on them to make it through – that’s unless you bet with GR88.com, who are offering money back on those games which go the distance.

Place a bet of up to £50 on the winner of a match, and if the winning player wins seven games in the final set then losing match bets will be refunded. This goes not only for the epic five-setters in the men’s draw, but also those three-set women’s matches which – as Sharapova and Knapp proved – can be just as physically demanding.

Of course, this is not the first year that certain singles games have gone on…and on…and on. Below is a recap of two of the more memorable epics.

Andy Roddick v Younes El Aynaoui, Quarter-Finals, 2003

Roddick is no stranger to high-scoring final sets, with his near-impenetrable serve often leading to back-and-forths which go on for longer than most. There is arguably no greater example than the 2003 quarter-final, where he took on the talented if enigmatic Moroccan El Aynaoui.

It had been relatively smooth sailing for ninth seed Roddick, who had recorded two straight-sets wins en route to the second week in Melbourne. He would have expected to face top seed Hewitt but the Australian fell to a shock defeat against El Aynaoui – seeded 18th – in round four.

Breaks of serve were few and far between as the pair exchanged blows early on, the Moroccan taking the first and third sets only to see his young opponent fight back to take the following set on both occasions.

20-year-old Roddick had a chance to serve for the match at 11-10 but let the opportunity slip, and the game lasted another 18 games before the American finally served out for a 21-19 victory.

The match lasted nearly five hours, and Roddick admitted that by the end “It was just pure fighting”

 

Francesca Schiavone v Svetlana Kuznetsova, 4th Round, 2011

She may have faded in the years since, but it’s easy to forget that Francesca Schiavone was one of the top five female tennis players in the world as recently as 2011.

Entering the tournament seeded sixth, the Italian came face-to-face with Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova after a tricky run in the early stages which had already included a 9-7 final set win over Canada’s Rebecca Marino.

Kuznetsova, on the other hand, had the honour of being the last player to eliminate Justine Henin from a Grand Slam, prompting the retirement of the former world number one. The Russian had won all three of her matches in straight sets, but that would soon change as Schiavone took the opener by six games to four.

A well-rested Kuznetsova responded by taking the second 6-1, at which point the match had been going on for less than two hours.

However a marathon decider saw the 23rd seed squander six match points, and her opponent only needed three opportunities to seal the deal in the 30th game of the set. At four hours and 44 minutes, the match remains not only the longest of the Australian Open, but the longest in any Women’s Grand Slam.

 

Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal, Final, 2012

Tennis has had a number of memorable finals in recent years as the sport’s elite have battled for supremacy, and Rafael Nadal has been involved in more than one such battle.

While British fans will have fond memories of his 16-14 final set defeat to Roger Federer in 2009, those in the southern hemisphere will point to the epic 2012 final at the Rod Laver Arena.

Ranked one and two in the world before the final, Djokovic and Nadal had both eased through to the quarter-finals before seeing off Andy Murray and Roger Federer respectively in the last four.

The quality on show rarely faltered, even as the game entered its fifth set and sixth hour of play. While Nadal was more clinical, converting four of his six break opportunities, his Serbian opponent made the all-important final breakthrough to win the game 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7, 7–5 and secure his fifth grand slam title.

After the game, Djokovic paid tribute to his opponent as “one of the best players ever”, but both put their names into the history books with one of the best finals the sport has ever seen.

Will we see a repeat of the Djokovic-Nadal final in 2014? Head over to GR88.com to place your bets on this week’s games right now.

 

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.

Australian Open betting odds make it clear who’s in and out for the titles

The first Grand Slam of 2014 swings into action this weekend in Melbourne

The first Grand Slam of 2014 swings into action this weekend in Melbourne

The first Grand Slam of the tennis season begins this weekend in Melbourne and the players ranked first in the ATP and WTA rankings are looking to regain the Australian Open titles. Rafael Nadal usurped Novak Djokovic at the top of the men’s rankings at the end of last season, while Serena Williams has been top of the WTA pile since February 2013, yet neither have won this event since 2009 and 2010 respectively. Will they be able to claim the titles this time around?

The Australian Open betting odds see Novak Djokovic favoured to claim the men’s title this year in addition to the titles he won in 2008 and in each of the last three years, while Serena Williams is the large favourite to win her first title in Melbourne since claiming her fifth victory in 2010.

Australian Open Outright Betting Odds

Men’s:

Novak Djokovic to win – 1.80

Rafael Nadal to win – 3.75

Andy Murray to win – 9.00

Juan Martin Del Potro to win – 11.00

Roger Federer to win – 19.00

Women’s:

Serena Williams to win – 1.60

Victoria Azarenka to win – 5.50

Maria Sharapova to win – 9.00

Na Li to win – 12.00

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

The betting odds for both the men’s and women’s sections of the tournaments make things relatively clear about who is in and out of the running for the titles this year. Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the biggest challengers in the men’s tournament, while it looks to be Serena Williams alone in the WTA side of the draw.

Of the two players that I feel will be up for the title in the ATP section of the Australian Open, my preference is Djokovic to take a fourth straight title in Melbourne. After he was defeated by Nadal in the US Open final he went on to take four straight titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and he also won the ATP Tour Finals at the o2 Arena in London. He also managed to beat Nadal in two of those tournaments and with these two players first and second seeds I see a Nadal v Djokovic final, with the Serbian having the edge over the world number one right now.

For Murray it is too soon after his return from injury to challenge for a final appearance following some subpar performances already this season, while Federer is without a tournament victory since June and may be over the hill right now. His defeat in Brisbane to Lleyton Hewitt was not a good sign for the coming season. Juan Martin Del Potro will be the dark horse of the tournament, but he will have to be on his best form if he is to defeat Nadal when they are due to meet at the Quarter Final stage.

In the women’s side of the tournament, I cannot see anyone coming close to Serena Williams at all. She is in a league of her own at the moment as she has lost just one match in seven tournaments since an early exit at Wimbledon after a shock defeat at the hands  of Sabine Lisicki. That one defeat came in the final of the Cincinnati tournament in the build up to the US Open when Victoria Azarenka, the world number two, claimed victory but Serena turned things around at Flushing Meadows in the final Grand Slam of last year with a win in the final. She also put down her marker in Brisbane this year as Azarenka was once again beaten in the final in the warm up for this tournament.

Apart from a shock upset or injury to Williams, there is no chance of any of the top challengers beating her this year. She has beaten Azarenka in 14 of 17 matches, Sharapova 15 times in 17 clashes and Na Li has suffered ten beatings in 11 meetings so, despite the fact that she is very much odds on favourite to win in Melbourne, the smart money is on the American top seed.

As both players are odds on favourites to take their respective titles at the 2014 Australian Open, albeit they are offering reasonable value, I am going for a decent profit on these two players to win in Melbourne by putting them together in a double for greater returns.

Back a Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams double to win the Australian Open @ 2.88 with GR88.com

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

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.

Nadal and Djokovic Favoured to make the Final in Abu Dhabi

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

As things stand at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi we have four players remaining at the Semi Final stage after we bid goodbye to Stanislas Wawrinka, who was beaten in straight sets by David Ferrer, and Andy Murray, whose return from injury did not go according to plan as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent the Scot crashing out. Today’s Semi Final matches see Ferrer go head to head for the 27th time against fellow Spaniard and world number one Rafael Nadal, while Frenchman Tsonga faces two time reigning champion in Abu Dhabi Novak Djokovic for the second final berth.

GR88.com favour the world numbers one and two to win their Mubadala World Tennis Championship Semi Finals and see a 40th meeting of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tomorrow. Their betting odds for the semi finals of this competition are as follows.

David Ferrer v Rafael Nadal:

Ferrer to win – 4.33

Nadal to win – 1.25

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Novak Djokovic:

Tsonga to win – 4.50

Djokovic to win – 1.25

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Both Nadal and Djokovic have a great record at this Mubadala World Tennis Championship tournament as they have claimed the title on two separate occasions, with Nadal winning back to back titles in 2010 and the start of 2011, while Djokovic matched Nadal with victory in the first two running’s of the competition in December 2011 and 2012.

Despite neither of them having played a competitive match since their meeting in the final match of the 2013 ATP season at London’s o2 Arena where Djokovic, who had been recently relegated to second in the world behind Nadal, claimed an impressive 6-3, 6-4 victory in the ATP World Tour Finals. He will be desperate to win a third straight tournament win in Abu Dhabi, especially against Nadal, while the Spaniard will be equally motivated to win but both of these players will have to overcome their Semi Final opponents today first.

Nadal has an excellent record against Ferrer with 21 wins in 26 meetings between himself and the world number three and, of the two final four stage matches, I feel that this will be the closer of the two Semi Final games. Ferrer did beat Nadal at the start of November at the Paris Masters and he easily passed Stanislas Wawrinka in the last round so he will be confident of victory against his fellow countryman. Despite this Ferrer is one of the many players that Nadal has an innate ability to defeat in almost every match and with the world number one starting the season well on most occasions I feel that Nadal is the deserving favourite for this match and I can see him taking the first final spot.

Djokovic too has a great record against his Semi Final partner, the world number ten in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as he has 11 wins in 16 meetings between the two and he has lost just one meeting since the 2010 Australian Open, almost four years ago. That defeat came at the Paris Masters in 2011 when Djokovic was unable to play and with Tsonga sending 2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray out in the Quarter Finals this year this match is likely to be closer than the odds suggest. However, Djokovic usually hits the ground running, unlike the Scottish Wimbledon champion, and I feel that Djokovic will defeat this familiar foe like in each match played in the last four years and I am too backing the Serbian world number two for victory today.

As a result of this, my best bet from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship action today is back Nadal and Djokovic to reach the final tomorrow in a double.

Back Nadal and Djokovic to win in a double @ 1.56 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

The Return of Andy Murray!

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

This Boxing Day sees the return of both the tennis season and Scottish world number four Andy Murray as Abu Dhabi hosts the curtain raising Mubadala World Tennis Championship where six of the top players in the world battle to claim the title. The winner will be crowned on Saturday and it is world number two Novak Djokovic that is looking to take his third straight victory in the Middle East this weekend.

The action kicks off tomorrow with two Quarter Final matches as David Ferrer takes on Stanislas Wawrinka for a place in the Semi Finals against world number one Rafael Nadal and the second Quarter Finals sees Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with the victor facing the reigning champion for a spot in the final.

GR88.com favour a winning return for the first British player to claim the men’s Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936 as Murray defeated Djokovic in three sets last summer. Although the Scot has not played in more than two months he is the big favourite to take his ninth win in ten matches against the French world number ten.

Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Betting Odds:

Andy Murray to win – 1.65

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win – 2.18

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Murray had a disrupted season this year as he suffered two serious injuries, with both back injuries, seeing him miss the French Open in May/June before he missed the end of the season as he required surgery to correct the long standing issue following a second flare up in October. This match is his first time back in a competitive game, but will the Scot take his time in getting back up to speed or will he hit the ground running and move into a match against the Serbian world number two in Djokovic?

Murray could not have a more favourable opponent to start his road to recovery as he has beaten the Frenchman who sits tenth in the ATP rankings in each of their last seven meetings since losing in the first round of the Australian Open in 2008 almost six years ago. Tsonga also comes into this match on the road to recovery after missing much of the third quarter of last season with a knee injury and he has played just five tournaments, reaching the Semi Finals in two and the final in another, since his return to action in September. He will hope to be fully fit for this match and will this fitness advantage give him the edge over a player he struggles against?

All of the UK will be cheering Murray on to a successful return to tennis action, but the Scot tends to have a slow return from injury and is not the best at the very start of seasons. However, with him missing much of the end of last season through injury Murray will be out to prove that he has hit the ground running for a 2014 run from fourth in the ATP rankings back towards the top two spot that he held for much of 2013. I feel that Murray is the better of these two players and I am in agreement with GR88.com that he is the favourite to win in Abu Dhabi and my Christmas money is going on a win for the Scot today.

Back Andy Murray to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship today @ 1.65 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Nadal v Djokovic Clash at ATP World Tour Finals

The world’s top two tennis players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovicm battle it out in the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s o2 Arena this evening. Who’ll win this Nadal v Djokovic match?

Nadal v Djokovic

I give Nadal quite an edge having taken 22 wins to 16 for Djokovic.  The world number one leads 3-2 in the five games so far this year, but Djokovic did win the last meeting of the two in Beijing to take the title. I think he can win back to back matches against the Spaniard to claim the World Tour Finals title.  So does Bulldog777.com sportsbook which favors the Serbian in this Nadal v Djokovic clash.  Their odds on Nadal v Djokovic are:

Rafael Nadal to win – 2.44

Novak Djokovic to win – 1.52

————————————————————————–

The BulldogThe Bulldog is a sportsbetting blogger with a passion for Champions League and Russian Premier League football.  Read his regular sportsbetting blog at Bulldog777.com