It’s a new year and a new tennis betting season, but there’ll be a few big names missing from the Australian Open roster. Both the men’s and women’s sections have been hit by a number of withdrawals due to injury. The questions is: can an outsider take advantage and pull off a surprise win, or will it be a familiar name on the trophy?
The first Grand Slam of the year takes place from 15-28 January, which is almost upon us, so let’s take a look at who's playing and where the smart money will be going, as well as some of the other bets to consider. Read on for a break down of all the best bets and markets worth targeting from this year's Australian Open!
Andy Murray will not be taking part in the Australian Open having just undergone hip surgery, alongside two of the game’s other stars, who have also been struggling with injuries lately. Novak Djokovic has dominated the tournament over the last decade, winning it six times between 2008 and 2016. He will be playing next week but he won’t be fully fit having been out of action since Wimbledon in July last year.
His only match practice will have been a couple of exhibition tournaments. One of Djokovic’s biggest strengths has always been his stamina in long matches, but with doubts surrounding his fitness, would he be able to come through a gruelling five-setter? Having said that, Roger Federer won the tournament last year after taking a substantial amount of time off to overcome his injuries, so it can be done.
And the top online bookies are certainly not writing Djokovic off, with best odds of 13/2 at Unibet. Similarly, Rafael Nadal has declared himself fit for the season’s curtain opener despite an on-off battle with a long-term knee problem. The Spaniard hasn’t played since the ATP Finals in November and withdrew from recent tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane. He remains the world No. 1 but has only won the Australian Open once – and that was back in 2009.
He has reached the final in three of the last six years, though, so at odds of 5/1 with Ladbrokes he's certainly one to consider. That leaves Roger Federer as the firm favourite among the bookies. Despite being the oldest player in the competition, he's currently the fittest of the ‘Big Four’. The Swiss legend proved that age is just a number as he bounced back from injuries with an excellent 2017 season, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The 36-year-old is 7/4 with a number of bookmakers to claim a sixth Aussie Open title and 20th Grand Slam.
Beyond Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, the strongest contender in this year's Open looks to be Grigor Dimitrov. 2017 was a big year for the Bulgarian as he claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati before winning the prestigious season-ending ATP Finals in London in November, a win that caught some serious attention.
That success moved him up to an all-time high of No. 3 in the world rankings and suggests he's ready to finally win his first Grand Slam. He reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year but with so many of the top players either missing or returning from injuries, he could be worth a punt at 10/1 with Sun Bets to win it.
It’s a very different story in the women’s tournament, where three of the bookies’ top four favourites have never won a Grand Slam before. All four are aged 26 or under. With seven-time winner Serena Williams pulling out having given birth to her first child last year, the trophy is very much up for grabs this time around, with no clear favourite among the bookmakers.
Simona Halep is the current world No. 1 and warmed up for the first Grand Slam of 2018 with victory in the Shenzhen Open in China last week. However, the Romanian was knocked out in the first round in Melbourne two years running and has never gone further than the quarter-finals. She did reach her first Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, though, and is 8/1 with 10Bet to go one better and claim her first title at the Australian.
Garbine Muguruza is the only one of the top bets to have a Grand Slam title to her name (in fact, she has two) and some of the bookies have her slightly ahead of the others. After winning Wimbledon last year, Muguruza briefly held the No. 1 spot before conceding it in September. The Spaniard’s best result at the Australian Open was reaching the quarter-finals last year, but that previous experience of winning Grand Slams could give her an advantage. Like Halep, her longest odds are 8/1.
For the same odds you can also back Karolina Pliskova. Another former world No. 1, she has already proven she can go a long way at Grand Slams, having reached the quarters of this tournament and the semi-finals of the French Open last year, as well as the final of the US Open in 2016. She reached the semi-finals of the warm-up tournament in Brisbane last week and is certainly likely to be in the mix in Melbourne.
Talking of the Brisbane International, the winner of that tournament was 23-year-old Elina Svitolina. She continues to improve and is currently ranked No. 6, but the furthest she’s got at any Grand Slam is the quarter-finals. With a best price of 10/1 with William Hill, she doesn’t look as appealing as the other three. If you’re looking for a more established player to back, Caroline Wozniacki is one to consider.
The 27-year-old returned to the top three at the end of last season for the first time since 2011 after winning the WTA Finals. She’s still looking for her first Grand Slam crown, having reached two US Open Finals and the semis in Australia in 2011, and can be backed at 11/1 with William Hill. Whoever you’re backing, you’ll get the latest odds plus plenty of other tennis markets if you visit William Hill.