The first Grand Slam of the year is upon us as the stars of the tennis world head down to Melbourne for the Australian Open, an event which always delivers great tennis and due to its infancy in the season some shocks and surprises too.
Novak Djokovic avoided everything last year to power his way to another Australian Open title and he’ll be out to retain his crown over the two weeks. Some big players are up against him which should make for a great event.
2019 – Novak Djokovic
2018 – Roger Federer
2017 – Roger Federer
2016 – Novak Djokovic
2015 – Novak Djokovic
2014 – Stan Wawrinka
2013 – Novak Djokovic
2012 – Novak Djokovic
2011 – Novak Djokovic
2010 – Roger Federer
As ever in a Grand Slam the draw is pre-determined and the brackets have been drawn ahead of the tournament. Each match in the event is the best of five sets but unlike in previous years there will be a tiebreak in the deciding set. Should the score reach 6-6 in the final set a champion’s tiebreak will be played where the first to 10 points wins the match. The title will be decided on the second Sunday as always.
Novak Djokovic is the defending champion but it is Rafael Nadal who is the world number one and as such he is the number one seed this week and he headlines the top quarter. You have to go back to 2009 for the last time he won this tournament so that will keep the other seeds in this quarter interested. They are Pablo Carreno Busta, Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils, Karen Khachanov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz and Dominic Thiem.
As ever there are big names who haven’t got a seeding by their name. One of those in this quarter is Kevin Anderson, while Adrian Mannarino is another with a good reputation. Veterans Ivo Karlovic and Ernests Gulbis are in this quarter as well as are Pablo Cuevas, Gilles Simon and Joao Sousa in what looks like it is a pretty competitive section should anything happen to Nadal.
The US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev is the top seed in this second quarter of the draw. He goes in search of a maiden Grand Slam title and could have to overcome the challenge of Alexander Zverev in the quarter final if everything goes with the seedings. Six men will be out to make sure it doesn’t as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John isner, Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, Andrey Rublev and Nikoloz Basilashvili are the other seeds in the section.
Once again there are some household names in this section who aren’t seeded. They include Fernando Verdasco, Jeremy Chardy and Frances Tiafoe are just some of the men on show here who will be looking to put up a big couple of weeks in what looks like being a competitive quarter and arguably the most open one of the lot as well.
This is the section of the draw where Roger Federer will look to write another piece of history from. He has a brilliant record here and hopes to have one more Grand Slam in him but he’ll have his work cut out to come through this quarter. It is Matteo Berrettini who is scheduled to meet him in the quarter final but there are six other seeds looking to stop that particular match from happening. They are Borna Coric, Guido Pella, Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov and Hubert Hurkacz.
There are some good players outside of the seeds in this quarter as well. They include the next big young thing Jannik Sinner while Steve Johnson, Filip Krajinovic, John Millman, Juan Ignacio Londero and Reilly Opelka will all think they have been tournaments in them. Sam Querrey is another who has gone deep in a tournament like this before who will be looking for a big couple of weeks in Melbourne.
It is here where the defending champion Novak Djokovic will look to retain the title from this fortnight. He could face the stiffest quarter final test of the lot as he has been drawn in the same section as Stefanos Tsitcipas who had his big breakthrough here before dominating at the o2 Arena at the end of last season. If that is to happen then the likes of Milos Raonic, Benoit Paire, Roberto Bautista Agut, Diego Schwartzman, Dusan Lajovic and Dan Evans will all have to be despatched with.
The likes of Laslo Djere, Kyle Edmund and Cristian Garin have all been seeded at big events in recent times and they are all in this section but the biggest name of those who have not been given a seeding is Marin Cilic and he’s also in this part of the draw. Other notable names include Philipp Kohlschreiber and Feliciano Lopez so this is a pretty packed section.
I’m avoiding the bottom half of the draw in terms of an outright bet this week because I think Novak Djokovic is the most likely winner so I’ll go with two from the top half with the first one being Nick Kyrgios. The Australian still has to be taken to chance that he is up for the battle but that might be helped in this tournament by the fact he is going to be playing to contribute to the bush rescue appeal, which should act as an incentive to stay on it. He’s just played a couple of team events which get his juices flowing as well so I can see Kyrgios up for the battle here. There is no doubt he is good enough to win a slam and at 33/1 I’ll pay to see if this is his time.
Andrey Rublev has been enjoying himself in 2020 having won in Doha and Adelaide already and there is no substitute for winning tennis matches. He is twice a Grand Slam quarter finalist when you could argue he wasn’t playing as well as he is now so in theory he should be ready to go a step or two deeper. Rublev was touted as a big thing in his next gen days and he looks to be coming the boil here. Daniil Medvedev looks like the main man in his quarter but that isn’t yet the worst draw you could get. Rublev looks overpriced on this form.
I’ll go with three men for their respective quarters. I’ll take Rublev to win his quarter as it looks too wide open not to but I’m also going to back Grigor Dimitrov for the third quarter. He looked to be getting back to somewhere near his best towards the end of last season and he is a former semi-finalist here so we know he enjoys the Australian conditions. Roger Federer is the main man in this quarter but he’s not as sure a thing as he once was in this part of the world while Matteo Berrettini probably needs another year of developing before he’s challenging for this title. Dimitrov looked decent enough at the ATP Cup and is overpriced for this quarter.
Roberto Bautista Agut is my pick in the bottom quarter. It is well known that he has a good record against Novak Djokovic so if he has to come up against him we’re not the forlorn hope we might be and that is very much encouraging. RBA was another who went well in the ATP Cup where he was alongside Rafael Nadal and ran strong. There are a few players of note in this section but Bautista Agut is getting ever more consistent these days and could just be ready for a big breakthrough. He made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the same here is perfectly possible, especially if that arm injury flares up again for Djokovic.
Back N.Kyrgios to win Australian Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with BetVictor (1/2 1-2)
Back A.Rublev to win Australian Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Betway (1/2 1-2)
Back A.Rublev to win 2nd Quarter for a 2/10 stake at 10.00 with Betfair
Back him here:
Back G.Dimitrov to win 3rd Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 with Coral
Back R.Bautista Agut to win 4th Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Bet365