Australian Open 2017 Preview
There’s a lot of interest for the first slam of 2017. On the men’s side, all the big guns feature, save for Del Potro. Djokovic and Murray are in a tussle to be no 1 this year, the first genuine contest we’ve had at the top for some time. Old warhorses Federer and Nadal return to action, seeded 17 and 9 respectively, with many watching to see if they can regain their old form. Throw in the ambitions of the likes of Raonic and Nishikori and you can see what a tournament we could have.
First Quarter – Murray #1
Murray has a relatively easy path here. But there is a potential bloodbath on the other side of the first quarter, with Berdych, Federer and Nishikori battling it out for one quarter final berth. Whoever makes it through is likely to face a fit and rested world no 1 on a mission—it is hard to see any of them getting past the Scot.
Quarter Winner Murray – 1.5:1 Betfair
Second Quarter – Wawrinka #4
Wawrinka must get past home opposition Nick Kyrgios to make it to the quarter final stage. Kyrgios has had success in this match-up before and is a threat. Over five sets, however, I would favour Stan. Waiting in the quarter could be a number of players, with Cilic, Tsonga & Sock the most likely. Each has a better record against one of the others so it is hard to call who will make it. Whoever it is, I would fancy Wawrinka to come through.
Quarter Winner Wawrinka – 2.88:1 Betfred
Third Quarter – Raonic #3
Raonic should come through to the quarters here, so long as he can play his aggressive game. If he is below par, the likes of Bautista Agut, Simon or Ferrer could wear him down. His opponent will come from one of the more interesting sections—Monfils is the top seed here, but would have to get by either Nadal or Zverev. This quarter is the most open for me, but I would give the slight edge to Raonic to come through. The bookies, on the other hand, have the Canadian second to former winner Rafa, which is understandable. However, we haven’t seen Nadal perform at his best here for some time.
Quarter Winner Raonic – 3.75:1 SkyBet
Fourth Quarter – Djokovic #2
Djokovic would appear to have the easier draw here, with an in-form Dimitrov perhaps able to give him a test before the quarters. Waiting there are likely to be either Thiem or Goffin, neither of whom I would expect to give Novak too much trouble. The Serb could sail into the semis.
Quarter Winner Djokovic – 1.44:1 SkyBet
Murray d Wawrinka Djokovic d Raonic
Murray d Djokovic
Most people are expecting a Murray-Djokovic final. Everything in their records here says it’s a Djokovic win – he has 6 titles, Murray 5 runner-up spots. But times have changed, Murray is world #1 and their odds are virtually identical. Djokovic beat Murray in Doha a couple of weeks back but Murray looked good in the longer points and could outlast the Serb in what is likely to be a grinding match. It’s a tough call, but I would give Murray the edge.
Murray to win 2.8:1 Betfair or 2.88:1 Matchbook
We are heading into the unknown when we look at the women’s draw. Ke players, such as Sharapova, Kvitova & Azarenka, are missing. Is it possible for Serena Williams to climb back to the top and claim another slam? If she does, she would also be close to a claim to be considered the best tennis player of all time. Kerber has all the credentials: she is the current world #1, defending champion and most recent slam winner at Flushing Meadows. And yet…there is a sense that someone else could sneak in and take the title this year.
First Quarter – Kerber#1
Kerber is beatable early on in a tournament and she has some early dangers—Kasatkina recently beat her in Sydney, for example. Muguruza is her likely opponent at the quarter stage. The Spaniard is capable of blowing almost anyone off the court, but if Angelique is still around by this point her defence may be too strong – Garbine would have to play with the control and precision that has been lacking recently.
Quarter Winner Kerber – 2.63:1 Betfred
Second Quarter – Halep #4
Halep is vulnerable to a big hitter and hasn’t ever really impressed in Australia so I would back against her here. Old school big hitters such as Venus Williams and Kuznetsova could make an impact. But I fancy a new player to make an impact and suggest that Svitolina could come through.
Quarter Winner Svitolina – 5.5:1 BetVictor
Third Quarter – Radwanska#3
Radwanska has a great record in this tournament but can struggle in the latter rounds against the big hitters who find form. In this section she has a good chance of making the quarter finals, but I think Karolina Pliskova could power her way into the semi-finals.
Quarter Winner Pliskova – 2.88:1 BetVictor
Fourth Quarter – Serena#2
Serena has a pretty scary looking draw, right from the start with her first match against Bencic. Konta, Wozniacki or Cibulkova could be waiting in the quarters. I won’t be surprised if she doesn’t make it, but then no-one else is a certainty either. Cibulkova hasn’t shown great form recently but she won the WTA Finals last year and may have the belief to come through a tough quarter – she also has good odds.
Quarter Winner Cibulkova – 9:1 BetVictor
Svitolina d Kerber
Cibulkova d Pliskova
Cibulkova d Svitolina
An unlikely outcome to be sure, but stranger things have happened – there were two first time slam winners in 2016 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a new one crowned in Melbourne. If it is Cibulkova who comes through, you will get a good return – as high as 36:1 on the Betfair Exchange.
Good Luck and enjoy the tennis!