Can Zverev Dismantle Big-4 at 2018 Aussie Open?

Hopefully, the 2018 Australian Open will usher in a return to normalcy for Novak Djokovic (4/1 odds) and Andy Murray (5/1), who both cut their 2017 seasons short due to injury. If their respective rehabs go according to plan, the former world no. 1s will return for the first Grand Slam of the new year.

Plagued by injuries and dips in form, Murray and Djokovic both had disastrous 2017 seasons before calling it a day. Murray abandoned the season after Wimbledon due to a lingering hip injury; Djokovic called it quits around the same time after sustaining an elbow injury. Both finished the year outside the top-ten. It was a strange dynamic for the players and fans, alike, after the pair dominated 2016. 

Yet, if either returns anywhere near his 2016 form, he’ll be a worthy favorite for the 2018 Australian Open. Djokovic has won the Aussie Open six times in his storied career while Murray has reached the final five times. 

Until we see their comebacks in action, though, the ageless wonders — Rafael Nadal (3/1) and Roger Federer (7/2) — remain the frontrunners. Both staged meteoric comebacks this season and, with a little rest and renewed focus, should remain near the top of men’s tennis in 2018. At first, I was among the “Fedal” doubters. I thought that as the season wore on, age and fatigue would take its toll and the young crop of challengers would claim the mantle, especially with Murray and Djokovic laboring. But I was wrong. Nadal and Federer continued to dominate and there’s good reason to believe their reign will continue into 2018.

The big four — Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic — have dominated men’s tennis for over a decade, and they’re the four opening favorites for Australia. Is this the year that one of the younger generation takes the game by storm? If so, the most likely usurper is Alexander Zverev Jr (14/1). 

The 20-year-old German has had a breakout 2017 season, winning five tournaments and climbing to fourth in the ATP rankings. In all likelihood, he’ll end the year as the third-ranked player in the world, below only Nadal and Federer. He’s gone from a relative unknown to defeating Djokovic to winning the Italian Open and overcoming Federer to seal the Rogers Cup. However, he’s never advanced past the third round at a Grand Slam.

He’s by far the most promising player in men’s tennis, and unlike all the other young players who were built up to be the “next big thing” — e.g. Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios, etc — Zverev is arguably ahead of schedule. If he’s able to stay injury-free, we can expect some great things from the youngster in 2018. Take advantage of the long odds and take a chance on the future of men’s tennis with one of the top sportsbooks.

 

Nadal poised to end the year as world No. 1. Photo credit: Brett Marlow (Flickr) CC License

 


Odds to win the 2018 Australian Open Men’s Singles

Rafael Nadal: 3/1

Roger Federer: 7/2

Novak Djokovic: 4/1

Andy Murray: 5/1

Alexander Zverev Jr.: 14/1

Stan Wawrinka:  17/1

 

Value Pick: Alexander Zverev: 14/1