The Australian Open is the first tennis major of the calendar year, and the 2017 edition looks to be a fairly predictable affair (famous last words!).
On the men’s side of the draw it appears as though Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are streets ahead of their nearest rivals, while in the women’s draw it could be argued that Serena Williams looks as vulnerable as she has ever done in a hard court Grand Slam, with Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova the main competition.
So, here are the pick of the Australian Open betting tips:
Back Novak Djokovic to Win the Australian Open (13/8)
Following defeat in the finals of the US Open and the World Tour Series, there were whispers – albeit very quiet ones – that Novak Djokovic was either a) finished or b) slightly off the boil, depending upon the extremity of the pundit.
But as clichés go, ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ is up there with the best of them, and in winning in Doha recently in his first outing of 2017, Djokovic served a warning that he is back to his best. His run to the final may have been easy enough, but the way he comfortably saw off Andy Murray there was reminiscent of the way he used to dominate the Scot.
With six Australian Open titles to his name, this is clearly a tournament the Serb loves, and so we have plenty of encouragement to get involved in a tournament that – Murray and Milos Raonic apart – is lacking in genuine depth.
Back Karolina Pliskova to Win the Australian Open (7/1 e/w)
The women’s draw is lacking depth and obvious winners, with Serena Williams playing rather poorly in her only recent outing; making 88 unforced errors in a single match in Auckland. At 3/1, it is hard to warrant excitement about her chances.
Angelique Kerber, the reigning champion, warrants a mention, but with Simona Halep already out of the competition the door appears ajar for Karolina Pliskova, one of the most vastly improved players on the WTA Tour and a US Open finalist in the autumn.
These hard courts suit the Czech ace – she stands 6ft 1in and really blasts the ball, and after winning a tour event in Brisbane a fortnight ago she will be confident and ready for the task in hand.
Back Jack Sock to Win the Second Quarter (11/1 e/w)
Confidence is key in tennis, and if you have it flowing through your veins then that surely stands you in good stead heading into best-of-five set matches and the ups and downs those can bring.
Having reached the last 16 of the US Open in the autumn, Jack Sock has kicked on; reaching quarter finals in Paris and Shanghai and losing in a final in Stockholm, before claiming the second ATP Tour level title of his career in Auckland last week.
In the second quarter of the draw alongside Sock is a trio of unpredictable characters who are all capable of losing matches they should be winning: the bizarre Stan Wawrinka, the up-and-down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the ever-entertaining but unbackable Nick Kyrgios. Sock looks a great each way price to progress.
Back Feliciano Lopez to Beat Fabio Fognini (10/11)
These two players appear to be equally matched on the face of it, but having only met twice in the past – both in Grand Slam events, no less – we note that Lopez boasts a 2-0 head-to-head lead.
The Spaniard isn’t getting any younger but is able to hide his ageing legs behind his fantastic left-handed serve, which is enough to drive many a player to distraction. Given their head-to-head record, clearly Fognini isn’t a big fan.
Back Reilly Opelka to Win a Set against David Goffin (5/6)
These Melbourne courts are playing pretty fast already – that much is obvious from the number of tiebreaks already witnessed – and with a booming serve young Reilly Opelka will be hoping to get at least a set on the board against David Goffin.
The 19-year-old won three qualifiers in straight sets to reach the main draw, and in the past few months has taken the likes of Kevin Anderson, Tsonga and John Isner to a tiebreak. Goffin tends to struggle against big servers – he has lost to Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Nick Kyrgios in recent times, so let’s back the American to get on the scoreboard.