- The biggest question hanging over the 2022 Australian Open is the fate of Novak Djokovic
- World No. 1 and nine-time champion, the Serb’s status is limbo because of an immigration issue
- We look at the tournament with and without him, and some early key matches
The saga of Novak Djokovic has dominated the leadup to the 2022 Australian Open, which also is beset with the coronavirus suddenly raging in a country that had held it at bay for over a year.
In addition to that, a number of players have contracted and recovered from the virus in the last month or so.
And that has certainly affected their preparation for the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.
Australian Open Men’s Singles Odds
|||Daniil Medvedev (RUS)||+100|
|||Novak Djokovic (SRB)||+130|
|||Alexander Zverev (GER)||+350|
|||Rafael Nadal (ESP)||+1000|
|||Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+2000|
|||Jannik Sinner (ITA)||+2500|
|||Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)||+4000|
|||Andrey Rublev (RUS)||+4500|
|||Matteo Berrettini (ITA)||+4500|
|||Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)||+6000|
|||Denis Shapovalov (CAN)||+7000|
|||Casper Ruud (NOR)||+7000|
|||Aslan Karatsev (RUS)||+10000|
|[WC]||Andy Murray (GBR)||+10000|
|||Karen Khachanov (RUS)||+12500|
|||Taylor Fritz (USA)||+12500|
|||Gaël Monfils (FRA)||+15000|
Odds as of Jan. 13 at Barstool Sportsbook
Will He or Won’t He? The Djokovic Question
Some oddmakers may already be presuming Djokovic will not take part – Barstool Sportsbook had Medvedev at +100 and Djokovic at +130, while DraftKings has them both at +150 in the Australian Open odds.
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But one thing is certain: if Djokovic does end up getting deported and being withdrawn from the tournament, odds for many players are sure to drop from where they are now.
Especially Nadal, who is in Djokovic’s half of the draw. And Alexander Zverev, whom many believe is due for his first career Grand Slam title.
As it happens, Nadal vs Zverev would be a quarter final in the bottom half of Djokovic’s half.Advertising Disclosure
The Quarter of Death
Djokovic (nine times) and Nadal (once, all the way back in 2009) are the only players in the draw to have won the title.
Beyond that, only Marin Cilic (a great run in 2018) and Andy Murray (a finalist in 2015 and 2016) have made the final, along with favorite Medvedev a year ago.
But the Zverev-Nadal quarter is the one to look at. There are some dangerous players in there including Denis Shapovalov, the underrated Hubert Hurkacz, and Aslan Karatsev, who made an incredible run a year ago.
Novak Djokovic admits breaching isolation rules while Covid positivehttps://t.co/hOXjTthfJ8
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 12, 2022
Whomever comes out of that quarter would be expected to make the final. And that might well be true even if Djokovic plays.
The Serb finished the season very late because of Davis Cup. And then he’s been dealing with all the drama – including five days in an immigration detention hotel last week, during which time he was unable to practice.
His preparation isn’t ideal. It might be too much for even Djokovic to overcome. Assuming he plays.
Australian Open Previous Winners and Finalists
|2021|| Novak Djokovic (SRB)|| Daniil Medvedev (RUS)|
|2020|| Novak Djokovic (SRB)|| Dominic Thiem (AUT)|
|2019|| Novak Djokovic (SRB)|| Rafael Nadal (ESP)|
|2018|| Roger Federer (SUI)|| Marin Cilic (CRO)|
|2017|| Roger Federer (SUI)|| Rafael Nadal (ESP)|
|2016|| Novak Djokovic (SRB)|| Andy Murray (GBR)|
|2015|| Novak Djokovic (SRB)|| Andy Murray (GBR)|
|2014|| Stan Wawrinka (SUI)|| Rafael Nadal (ESP)|
First-Round Matches to Watch
 Nikoloz Basilashvili (+205) vs. [WC] Andy Murray (-265)
These two met Tuesday, in a warmup tournament in Sydney. And it was a marathon of brilliant ball striking from Basilashvili and dogged determination from Murray and his artificial hip.
The 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-3 win by Murray took three hours and 13 minutes. And that was just in the best-of-three format.
If it’s surprising that Murray is the favorite in this one, it should be noted that he’s still in the Sydney draw and could still have two matches to play before he even gets to Melbourne for the big event.
But never count him out.
Prediction: Murray in five sets (+510)
 John Isner (+100) vs Maxime Cressy (-124)
These odds are based upon Cressy’s recent great run of form. He reached the final of a tuneup event in Melbourne last week out of the qualifying, losing to Nadal.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) January 13, 2022
But Cressy’s Grand Slam best-of-five set experience is limited to two tournaments – both in 2021, in Australia and at the US Open. And Isner, despite being 36 and pacing himself in terms of how much he plays, knows how to manage.
Despite never having played Cressy, he knows his return will be tested by Cressy’s serve-volley style.
And he knows, at least, that the points won’t be long.
Prediction: Isner (+100)
Tournament Best Bet: Medvedev (+100)
Tournament Longer Shot: Sinner (+2500)