The first Grand Slam of the year is up for grabs in Melbourne next week as the 2020 Australian Open gets underway.
January 2020 ushers in the start of a new era, but it could also mark a changing of the guard at the top of the sport with several of the game’s biggest stars moving towards the end of their careers.
While it’s no surprise to see some familiar faces making the early running in the tennis betting markets for the Australian Open, could this be the year the baton finally gets passed on to a new generation?
Here’s our Australian Open preview ahead of two weeks of top-class tennis in Melbourne…
Australian Open Predictions, Betting Tips & Preview – Will Novak Djokovic Win His Eighth Title?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC – 5/4
The red-hot favourite, and rightly so. The Serbian secured an eighth Australian Open title in 2019 and looks the man to beat yet again this year after starting the year in blistering form at the ATP Cup. A 6-2 7-6 win against his old rival Rafa Nadal sets him up perfectly for another victory lap at the Rod Laver Arena.
RAFAEL NADAL – 41/10
It might be 1-0 to Djok already in 2020, but Nadal still looks to be one of the few genuine contenders to topple the World No. 1 in Melbourne. The Spaniard has shown time and again he has the reserves of mental strength to battle back against the odds even when physically not in the best shape. He also demonstrated he can still cut it on the hard courts in 2019, sealing his fourth US Open title.
DANIIL MEDVEDEV – 7/1
The young pretender. The Russian looks to be leading the charge of the next generation after a breakthrough year in 2019 which saw him reach his first Grand Slam final at Flushing Meadows in the US Open. His Australian Open record is more mixed, although he did make it through to the second week for the first time in reaching the fourth round.
ROGER FEDERER – 8/1
Time and again, he’s proven us all wrong by finding a second wind, but this could be the year we finally start the long goodbye to the greatest player of all time? At 38, Fed surely can’t have too much longer to go on the elite circuit and may be targeting this year’s Tokyo Olympics as his swansong. That said, it’s only two years since he came out on top for a sixth time in Melbourne, and the Swiss’ hunger has shown precious few signs of waning.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS – 10/1
The 6ft 4in, 21-year-old Greek still has plenty of time on his side to push on to Grand Slam glory, but he’s certainly edging closer to his breakout moment on the tour. Tsipistas put out an early warning shot for a big 2020 campaign with a surprise victory in last season’s end-of-year ATP Finals.
DOMINIC THIEM – 14/1
The two-time French Open finalist always seems to be there or thereabouts whilst agonisingly missing out on major honours. This might finally be the year Thiem converts his early promise into genuine silverware – and at 26 he has to be careful that opportunities don’t continue to pass him by. Thiem has shown he has the game to trouble Novak Djokovic, knocking out the Serbian at the 2019 French Open, but will be hoping the draw falls kindly for him in Albert Park.
ALEXANDER ZVEREV – 16/1
German giant Zverev will be looking to move on from a mixed bag of a 2019 with a more consistent 2020 campaign after fluctuating form on the circuit last year. The 22-year-old failed to get beyond a quarter-final in the Grand Slams last season and has still never reached a semi-final. A flying start to this year could be the confidence boost he needs to finally fulfil his potential.
NICK KYRGIOS – 27/1
He’s the bad boy of Australian tennis with the raw talent to upset the world’s best – if he can keep his focus. Kyrgios can often be his own worst enemy with emotional on-court antics but did claim two ATP 400 titles in 2019. Can he finally achieve a career-best on home soil?
SERENA WILLIAMS – 87/20
The 23-time Grand Slam champion is bidding to draw level with Margaret Court after several near misses since returning to the tour and has underlined her intentions with a first title in three years after beating Jessica Pegula in the Auckland Open. Her last Grand Slam success came in Melbourne in 2017 – can she chalk up another landmark with a 24th slam three years on?
NAOMI OSAKA – 67/10
The defending champion’s chances can’t be dismissed lightly despite a 2019 campaign that largely fizzled out after securing her first Australian Open title last January. Osaka made a big call in bringing her father back as temporary coach after crashing out of the US Open. That decision paid dividends with flashes of her old form in the latter half of 2019, including success in the China Open.
ASHLEIGH BARTY – 15/2
Aussie hopes rest on the shoulders of Barty, with the 23-year-old vying for her second Slam after French Open glory in 2019. She achieved her personal best in Melbourne last season in reaching the quarter-finals. She would become the first Australian champion since Chris O’Neil in 1977.
KAROLÍNA PLÍŠKOVÁ – 9/1
The 27-year-old Czech star is one of the most consistent performers on the circuit, without necessarily having the trophies to back up her impressive career. The Australian Open has tended to be her strongest Slam in recent seasons, reaching two quarter-finals and a semi-final since 2017. If the draw falls favourably for her, this could be her crowning moment.
SIMONA HALEP – 10/1
A late bloomer on the tour, Halep is chasing a third Grand Slam title in as many years in Melbourne after adding a first Wimbledon title in 2019 to go alongside her 2018 French Open. A former finalist at Albert Park, Halep stumbled against Serena Williams in the fourth round last season. She’s warmed up with a win at the Adelaide Open in her preparations for this one.
MADISON KEYS – 16/1
In a similar mould to Karolina Plíšková, Keys is arguably towards the front of the pack of potential first-time Grand Slam champions heading into this tournament. She has some firm credentials to suggest her time is coming, reaching the final four of this tournament in 2015 and enjoying two landmark career wins at the Charleston Open (clay) and Cincinnati Open (hard). At 24, she’s also moving towards the peak of her powers. One to watch.
ELINA SVITOLINA – 16/1
Remarkable consistency could be Svitolina’s secret weapon at this year’s tournament after reaching a quarter final and two semi-finals in last year’s slams. A final continues to elude her however, and the Ukrainian has an unfortunate habit of freezing on the big occasion. If a few big names fall by the wayside early in this year’s tournament, the 25-year-old could have an irresistible opportunity to put that right.
PETRA KVITOVA – 20/1
Injury struggles dogged the 29-year-old in 2019. However, she remains one of the most tenacious tennis players on the circuit. If the Czech can find the ruthless form that carried her to two Wimbledon titles, a third Grand Slam title isn’t beyond her, especially after a gutsy run to last year’s final before defeat to Naomi Osaka. A semi-final appearance at the Brisbane International suggests she could be in good shape to last the full two weeks yet again in Melbourne.
Odds correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.
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