Who to Bet on in Australian Open Finals
The early rounds of the Australian Open were filled with chaos. It was the first time in a Grand Slam during the Open Era where both the men’s and women’s draws failed to have a top-two seed reach the quarterfinals.
Both Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud fell in the second round, while Ons Jabeur lost in the second before No. 1 Iga Swiatek was defeated in the fourth round.
Despite the upsets, both finals are filled with intrigue. Novak Djokovic will aim to continue his dominance in Australia on the men’s side against Stefanos Tsitsipas, and the women’s final features the hard-hitting duo of Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka.
Novak Djokovic Heavily Favored on Mens' Side
Given his historical form in Australia and the head-to-head advantage (5-0), it comes as no surprise to see Djokovic enter the men’s final as a -550 moneyline favorite over Tsitsipas (+400) on FanDuel.
A win on Sunday would give Djokovic his 10th Australian Open title, which would give him four more than Roger Federer and Roy Emerson. He hasn’t lost in the Australian Open since 2018, when he lost to Chung Heyon in the fourth round, giving him 41 straight victories in the country and wins in 84 of his last 87 matches. Another Grand Slam would tie Djokovic with Nadal for the most all-time with 22.
Despite losing to just one set all tournament, to French qualifier Enzo Couacaud, Djokvovic’s dominance through the bracket hasn’t been without some drama. He has had to take medical timeouts to nurse a hamstring injury in numerous matches, dealt with hecklers who admonish him for his anti-vaccine stance and at times, look fatigued in the three-set semifinal win over Tommy Paul (7-5, 6-1, 6-2). But through it all, he’s continued to produce.
“I’m really thankful that I still have enough gas in my legs to be able to play at this level,” he said. “Some long rallies, you could really feel them. I was really fortunate to kind of hold my nerves toward the end of the first set. That was a key. After that, I started swinging through the ball more.”
Tsitsipas earned a four-set victory over Karen Khachanov (7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3) to earn his second Grand Slam final matchup with Djokovic. In the first meeting, Tsitsipas took the first two sets of the French Open finale in 2021 before losing the final three to deny him of his first career Grand Slam. In four other three-set matches against Djokovic, Tsitsipas has taken just one other set off Djokovic in their head-to-head meetings.
Pick the Under 36.5 Match Games at -118 on FanDuel.
Djokovic was my pre-tournament pick to win it all at -125, so there’s no value in backing him at -550. But given his recent dominance, the under on total games is worth a look. With the potential of nursing an injury and fatigue from a tournament run, Djokovic could look to end the match as soon as possible, making the under a worthy play.
Rybakina, Sabalenka Meet in Women’s Final
Rybakina and Sabalenka’s power games have overwhelmed their opponents at the Australian Open. Rybakina has lost just one set, and Sabalenka has won every match in straight sets. Both exhibit some of the best serves in the game, with Rybakina leading the tournament with 45 aces and Sabalenka recording the third-most with 29. Short points should be expected.
Rybakina had one of the more impressive performances of the tournament, beating Swiatek in straight sets (6-4, 6-4), displaying the form she had during her Wimbledon title last year. Despite being new to the Grand Slam scene and winning Wimbledon just last year, Ryabakina still has more Grand Slam final experience than Sabalenka, who will make her debut in a major final.
The start of 2023 has been flawless for Sabalenka, who didn’t drop a set at the Adelaide tournament to record her first WTA singles title since May 2021. She continued her run into the Australian Open, where she has yet to lose a set. Sabalenka also holds a 3-0 head-to-head record over Rybakina, including a win at Wimbledon in 2021.
Pick: Sabalenka moneyline of -124 at FanDuel
This is a toss-up, but with Sablaenka’s form this year, plus her head-to-head record, I lean toward her breaking through for her first Grand Slam.
Sabalenka’s biggest concern has been managing her power. When she’s on, she can overwhelm opponents during baseline rallies. So far in 2023, she’s done just that, and I could see it continuing Saturday.
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