- Novak Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite to win his ninth Australian Open title
- Beyond that, Daniil Medvedev is the one considered most likely to win, if Djokovic doesn’t
- Rafael Nadal hasn’t had a single prep match before the event – we examine all the risky bets below
This is going to be a different Australian Open, with the pandemic version adding so many layers of “what ifs” to the mix.
But for Novak Djokovic, the 8-time champion, not much has changed. At +135 he laps the field as the favourite. (Naomi Osaka is the favorite on the women’s side).
Djokovic is bidding to be only the second man in history to win at least nine titles at a single Grand Slam event. He would join Rafael Nadal and his 13 French Open titles. Federer has eight Wimbledons.
Australian Open Men’s Singles Odds
|||Novak Djokovic (SRB)||+135|
|||Daniil Medvedev (RUS)||+450|
|||Rafael Nadal (ESP)||+650|
|||Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+650|
|||Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+1500|
|||Alexander Zverev (GER)||+1700|
|||Andrey Rublev (RUS)||+2200|
|–||Jannik Sinner (ITA)||+4400|
|–||Nick Kyrgios (AUS)||+4700|
|||Alex de Minaur (AUS)||+6600|
|||Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||+8000|
|||Matteo Berrettini (ITA)||+9000|
|||Milos Raonic (CAN)||+9000|
|||Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)||+10000|
|||David Goffin (BEL)||+10000|
|||Diego Schwartzman (ARG)||+10000|
|||Stan Wawrinka (SUI)||+10000|
|||Gaël Monfils (FRA)||+12500|
|||Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)||+15000|
|–||Marin Cilic (CRO)||+15000|
|||Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)||+15000|
Odds from Feb. 7 at DraftKings
The Courts are Fast – Supposedly
Court speed in tennis is always a matter of opinion. You ask 10 players how the courts are playing (especially compared to the previous year) and you’ll typically get 10 different answers.
But in the second year of use of the GreenSet surface at Melbourne Park, the general consensus is that they have sped up the courts quite a bit this year.
It’s even more true on the outer courts, on which six different tournaments were played this week and are more worn – and thus slicker – than in the three main, roofed stadia.
So big servers will be rewarded a lot more than a year ago.
Nadal’s Leadup Less than Ideal
Rafael Nadal is aiming to be the first man in the Open era (since 1968) and only the third in history to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice.
But this won’t be the year. The Spaniard will come into the tournament without a single warmup match, after sitting on the bench during the ATP Cup this week.
Hi all, we have decided with #TeamSpain and my team, to not play today the first match of the @ATPCup here in #Melbourne since I have a stiff low back. Hopefully I’ll be better for Thursday. We have a strong team, all the to @pablocarreno91 @BautistaAgut & @M_Granollers #vamos 🇪🇸
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) February 2, 2021
The decision for Nadal came just two hours before the first tie. But he didn’t play the second one, either. And after Spain made the semifinals, he also took a pass because of a stiff lower back.
The decision was precautionary. And Nadal has been practicing. But jumping right into best-of-five with so little preparation, at the Grand Slam at which he’s had the least success, is hardly ideal even if his draw looks like a very doable path to a quarterfinal clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Beyond Djokovic, Few With Oz Champion Mettle
It’s crazy that only two other players in the 2021 Australian Open draw have won it, other than Djokovic.
Stan Wawrinka’s win was seven years ago. And after getting through a bout of COVID-19 over the holidays, he came in undertrained and it’s unlikely he’ll get through a section that includes Milos Raonic and Djokovic.
Non-Djokovic Australia Open Singles Champions
|2017-2018||Roger Federer||(not playing)|
Potential Early-Round Upsets and Old Favorites
The toughest match in the first round was always going to be who faced rising star Jannik Sinner.
At No. 36 in the rankings, the 19-year-old from Italy is the highest-ranked player not to be among the 32 seeds.
And it was Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s bad luck to draw him in the first round.
Shapovalov played the ATP Cup; he fought Djokovic and Alexander Zverev and played really well – and lost both matches. It could happen again. But Sinner’s schedule is busy. On Sunday he was playing in the final of a tuneup event. Monday night, he has to turn it right around and play a fellow young gun.
The two are meeting for the first time.
No. 25 seed Benoit Paire quit after a set in his last ATP Cup match for France. He could well go down to the game and eager Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in the first round.
Also expect No. 14 seed Raonic and his monster serve to do major damage. Perhaps even to Djokovic, if they meet in the fourth round. The Canadian has always done well in Australia. And the quicker surface will really suit him.
Best Bet: Pick Medvedev (+450)
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