Grand Slam season is back in full swing as the 107th Australian Open gets underway from Melbourne on Monday.
The usual favourites will grace the court, including defending champions Roger Federer and Carolina Wozniacki – but you don’t have to be a genius to realise the overall seeding’s look a little short this year.
Missing is 2014 Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka and duel Wimbledon winner Andy Murray, who will both open unseeded. The same also goes for homegrown hopeful Nick Kyrgios after losing in the first round in Brisbane last week, leaving plenty of upsets on the cards.
We’ve previewed everything you need to know ahead of this year’s Open, and our best bets, best value and best roughies can be found below in our 2019 Australian Open Preview.
Best Bet – Novak Djokovic
- Odds: $2.20
- Australian Open Results: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 Champion
- 2018 Result: Lost in 4th Round (Chung Hyeon)
The only thing that might prevent Djokovic from winning his third-straight major is Novak himself. With Andy Murray looking to shake off the injury rust and Rafael Nadal still battling abdominal issues, the Serbian has a fairly clear path towards his seventh Open title. World No.3 Roger Federer might have something to say about that mind you, and there’s certainly no knocking the Swiss’s form at the Hopman Cup.
There’s also no denying Federer’s struggles against Djokovic recently. The 37-year-old has lost four straight matches against the World No.1, including the 2016 Australian Open Semi-Final. That isn’t to say Djokovic is invincible, in fact, he lost in three sets to Roberto Bautista in the ATP World Tour Finals last week. Barring some kind of early upset though, good luck to anyone that meets the Serb in the final – he’s likely saved his best for the tournaments that matter most.
Best Value – Roger Federer
- Odds: $6.00
- Australian Open Results: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018 Champion
- 2018 Result: Champion
A lot depends on the draw, but if Djokovic receives the short end of the stick, Federer could certainly find himself avoiding the Serbian in the Semi-Finals. However it works out, the Fed-Express is always a chance no matter who he faces, and since he’s finally healthy following losses to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon and Aussie John Millman in the US Open last year, you can bet revenge is at the forefront of his mind.
The form stacks up for Federer after resounding success at the Hopman Cup – he didn’t lose as much as a single set. Banking on somebody else upsetting Djokovic early in the tournament leaves Federer at nice odds to defend his title and win his seventh Open championship.
Best Roughie – Kevin Anderson
- Odds: $34.00
- Australian Open Results: Lost in 4th Round (2013, 2014, 2015)
- 2018 Result: Lost in 1st Round (Kyle Edmund)
Admittedly Anderson has never come close to winning the Australian Open, but his recent form stacks up for a decent run that could see him into the finals after failing to make it past the Round of 128 last year.
Anderson already has a tournament win to his name this year after defeating Ivo Karlovic in the Maharashtra Open last week. He also made it through to the ATP World Tour Finals back in November, defeating World No.9 Kei Nishikori before losing to Roger Federer. Now ranked No.6, the South African looks to be one of the healthiest players heading to Melbourne.
Best Bet – Serena Williams
- Odds: $5.00
- Australian Open Results: 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010 Champion
- 2018 Result: DNP
On one hand you could argue there’s nothing left for Serena Williams to accomplish on the court, but there is one item left un-ticked on her bucket list. A win in this year’s Open would equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, and after flirting with the milestone both at the US Open and at Wimbledon last year, the 37-year-old is on the brink of history.
Form wise Williams still has a lot of time to make up for having played in only two majors since maternity leave in 2017. She famously bowed out of the US Open in controversial circumstances, but you can’t knock her play in last week’s Hopman Cup, winning all three of her singles matches convincingly. Still ranked No.16 in the world, Williams will be keen to claw her way into the Top 10 in her first rankings match since last September.
Best Value – Angelique Kerber
- Odds: $9.00
- Australian Open Results: 2016 Champion
- 2018 Result: Lost in Semi-Finals (Simona Halep)
There’s plenty of quality in the women’s field, but perhaps no one has the resiliency of Angelique Kerber. The German bounced back from a horror 2017 season to win Wimbledon last year in a convincing performance against Serena Williams. A strong end to the season has the 31-year-old ranked 2nd in the rankings, but in more important news, a potential rematch of last year’s Semi-Final against Simona Halep won’t happen unless the two reach the Final this year.
Kerber finds herself on the opposite side of the draw with Halep still ranked No.1. The Romanian is also returning from injury and a loss to Ash Barty in the Sydney International last week, giving Kerber every chance if the two are to tango again this year.
Speaking of Sydney, Kerber is through to the quarter-final as of this writing, also on the back of an undefeated singles campaign in the Hopman Cup. That kind of form stacks up for a deep run into this year’s finals.
Best Roughie – Ash Barty
- Odds: $26.00
- Australian Open History: Lost in Third Round (2017, 2018)
- 2018 Result: Lost in Third Round (Naomi Osaka)
There’s a bit of hype surrounding the Aussie after taking down World No.1 Simona Halep in Sydney last week. Barty, Australia’s top ranked player entering this year’s Open, also has plenty of tennis under her belt after winning 10 of her last 12 matches.
A push for the Top 10 in the rankings would be nice, but so would a deep run in a Major – something we’re yet to see. So far Barty’s best result is the Quarter-Finals in the 2014 US Open, but the 22-year-old Queenslander is drawing plenty of respect from elite tennis folk as she challenges the best in the world. With her confidence sky-high as well as her fitness, this is perhaps the most confident we’ve felt in an Aussie in recent years.
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