Andy Murray will begin his quest for his first Australian Open title Sunday, January 15th, in Melbourne. The Scot is currently ranked World Number One, but will be in tough against Serbian Novak Djokovic, who has always done well at this tournament. Djokovic is the reigning champ, a title he’s held for two straight years, adding to his four other Aussie Open wins (an Open Era record).
On top of that, Murray has never had much luck against Djokovic. Along with being runner up at last year’s tournament, he also lost to the Djoker at the 2016 French Open. With that win, Djokovic became just the eighth player in history to achieve a Career Grand Slam: winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open in one’s career.
But the mighty would fall later in the year. After an opening round loss in the Olympics – his first opening round defeat since January 2009 – along with a U.S. Open Final loss, and defeats in Shanghai and Paris, Djokovic lost his Number One ranking to Murray.
Boy would he like to get it back, and a championship win would put him on his way to just that.
As for the Women’s side, it’s Serena Williams vs. everyone else. Ever since she’s come along, it’s been all Serena, all the time. But, like Djokovic, she took a bit of a step back in 2016. While Williams won the Wimbledon title, she finished as the runner-up at both the Aussie and French Opens. That means it’s been six months since the Queen of the Court has been named Grand Slam champion, a long six months for Williams.
So, here are a few odds to wet your appetite as the tournament gets underway.
2017 Australian Open Odds:
Odds to win Men’s Title:
Novak Djokovic: 2/1
Andy Murray: 5/2
Stan Wawrinka: 6/1
Milos Raonic: 7/1
Roger Federer: 12/1
Rafael Nadal: 25/1
An Aussie Open title is something Murray(1) really wants. He not only lost a close finals match to Djokovic(2) last year, but in 2015, as well. Other than the French Open, it’s the only Grand Slam he’s yet to win. His first few rounds should be a breeze, but something he’s always struggled with is consistency. And while he’s worked hard to grab hold of the number one ranking, much of it had to do with Djokovic struggling.
As for the Djoker, he’s changed his style of play a bit to reduce strain, and beat Murray earlier this month for the Doha title, ending Murray’s 28-match win streak. It’s likely it’ll all come down to these two, but who will win is still up in the air. I give Djokovic the edge, as he’s eager to regain that number one status.
Others to watch: Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka(4), Canadian Milos Raonic(3), Roger Federer(17) and Rafael Nadal(9), if he can stay healthy. Raonic is ranked third, but has yet to win a Grand Slam and seems to falter against tennis’ big guns – one being Federer. This will be Federer’s first major since undergoing knee surgery, and a similar or better result to last season’s Aussie Open finish (semi-final exist), would improve his rankings dramatically.
Odds to win Women’s Title:
Serena Williams: 3/1
Angelique Kerber: 7/2
Agnieszka Radwanska: 6/1
Simona Halep: 6/1
Johanna Konta: 10/1
Garbine Murguruza: 12/1
Williams(2) hasn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in July, and while that’s a feat in and amongst itself, it has many people wondering if the normally dominant Williams is on the downside of her career. I mean, the woman has had a storied career to date, winning her first Grand Slam 18 years ago on her way to a total of 22 to date. What more could she want to play for? Maybe reclaiming that World Number One ranking?
But we’ve seen some weaknesses from Williams in the past year, and younger women are working to break through the ranks and make a name for themselves. Like Angelique Kerber(1) and Agnieszka Radwanska(3). Kerber had an impressive season last year, winning both the Aussie and U.S. Opens. A Williams-Kerber final is likely, and if Kerber can get Serena off her game, like she did last year, it could be hers to lose. Two Grand Slams in a year definitely puts a target on your back, and we can say Kerber will be one to watch.
Australia-born Johanna Konta(10) is also flying high, coming fresh off a win at the Apia International Sydney last week. She’ll be looking for her first Grand Slam, and has proven comfortable on the court in Melbourne, narrowly losing out in the Australian Open semi-finals last year.
Along with Konta, look out for Simona Halep(4) and Garbine Murguruza(7) to make a push.
Photo credit: Carine06 “Andy Murray” (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]