It will come as no surprise to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the head of the betting for the Men’s Australian Open. Two icons of the sport dominated in 2017, and are understandably expected to remain at the very top in 2018.
Nadal claimed the US Open to go with yet another title at Roland Garros, while Federer won in Australia and at Wimbledon. Few would have predicted quite such an emphatic return to Slam-winning for the duo.
It is of no surprise that they sit far clear of the chasing pack at the top of the ATP rankings after this season, though and the Spaniard is currently favourite to win at 5/2 in our tennis betting markets.
His hard court form stateside a few weeks ago was stunning, and fitness seems to be the only thing that can stop the Spaniard at the moment. He was involved in a five-set classic with Federer in the final at the Australian last year, too.
His record in the first Grand Slam of the calendar year is far worse than anywhere else, however, having won only once, back in 2009.
If Federer can replicate anything like his best from this year, he has to be the pick to win the tournament. The 36-year-old has only failed to make the semis in Australia once since 2003. I am not going to bore you with reams of text about how brilliant Federer is, but that record – and his three victories – speak for itself.
The holder of a plethora of all-time records sits at 3/1 to win his 20th Grand Slam. Federer has lost only four matches in 2017, and his only Slam defeat came to Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open. The prices may well fluctuate before the 2018 season gets underway, but Federer at 3/1 is great value.
His fitness has been managed superbly, and – with no signs of physical decline – is incredibly tough to look past on a hard court. Third in the market is unsurprisingly Novak Djokovic. Having been out with injury for all of 2017 with an elbow problem, his 5/1 is certainly on the short side.
Djokovic’s preparations for the Australian Open are as yet unknown and, though he has won five titles in the year-opening Slam, his chances must be slim. A lot will depend on how he fares in his warm-up events, but it’s worth staying well away from backing the Serbian while there is so much uncertainty.
Andy Murray is next up at 7/1 behind Djokovic. The Scot recently revealed that he has returned to the court, and could play again before the season is out. Like Djokovic, Murray was expected to be out for the year after his own Wimbledon disappointment.
At a slightly longer price, Murray could be worth backing if he can get some injury-free matches in before we wave the 2017 season a nostalgic goodbye.
Outside of the so-called ‘big four’, the usual suspects offer a bit of wildcard value. Stan Wawrinka has been the best of the rest for quite some time, but 2017 has been damaged by fitness issues for him, too.
Juan Martin Del Potro is no doubt one of the most talented players in this generation. He has Slam winning experience, and showed signs of his best game at the US Open. Out at 25/1, the Argentine is, as he often is, a decent longshot option.
It’s no secret that del Potro can go toe-to-toe with Nadal and Federer, and that 25/1 will look like a great price if he can stay fully fit in the lead up to the tournament.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*