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Australian Open men's tips: The best bets on the men's singles field at the 2019 Australian Open

Hannah Wilks 13 Jan 2019
  • Australian Open men's tips: Best bets on the men's singles
  • The 2019 Australian Open begins on Monday 14 February
Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win the 2019 Australian Open (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

We've got the best bets on the Australian Open men's singles field for 2019, starring six-time winner Novak Djokovic, defending champion Roger Federer and some wild cards as well ...

Novak Djokovic to win outright


It's the biggest and simplest question when it comes to the men's field at the Australian Open: Who's going to be the champion?

And at the risk of repeating what everybody else will tell you ... his name rhymes with 'Schmockovic'. 

Currently 6/5 @ bet365 to be the men's champion - and 6/5 vs the field @ Paddy Power - Djokovic is rightfully the favourite. Six times an Australian Open champion, Djokovic hasn't made it as far as the quarterfinals in the past two years, but those have been years of struggle - for fitness, for motivation, for the right time. Reunited with his long-time coach and mentor Marian Vajda midway through last season, from the clay season onwards witnessed the revival of Djokovic as his old, supreme self, seeing the Serb snaffle the Wimbledon and US Open titles as well as retaking the world no. 1 ranking and grabbing the Shanghai and Cincinnati Masters titles.

It's true that Djokovic hasn't won absolutely everything - there were defeats to Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Alexander Zverev in the late stages of 2018, and he was beaten by a zoning Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha in the first week of the season. But beating Djokovic in a best-of-three sets match, as Zverev did at the ATP Finals, is a very different animal to beating him over the best-of-five sets and that is what any potential challenger will have to do in Melbourne.

The draw worked out nicely for Djokovic too. He could face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, it's true, but Tsonga is no longer the force he once was and is recovering from knee surgery to boot. In his quarter, the main potential opposition are either still-raw youngsters who haven't proved they have anything like the physical and mental fitness to beat one of the big guns ina a five-set match - Denis Shapovalov, Daniil Medvedev - or more experienced players lacking big weapons whom Djokovic has an excellent record against (David Goffin, Kei Nishikori). Alexander Zverev, a potential semifinal opponent, has never made a Grand Slam semifinal and had injury issues coming in; Dominic Thiem, also in that half, is nowhere near the force on hard courts he is on clay. Stan Wawrinka lurks, but he has never yet recovered form since his own 2017 knee surgery.

Roger Federer looks like the likeliest candidate to meet Djokovic in the final, but the defending champion is six years or so older than the Serb, and that matters; so does the fact that Federer hasn't beaten him since 2005. Rafael Nadal is increasingly struggling to stay fit throughout seven matches at a hard-court Slam, and the likes of alternative finalists Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson do not intimidate. Djokovic is the rightful favourite, and by far the likeliest winner.


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Name the finalists: Djokovic/Federer


There's lots of scope for imagination in this category, as it allows you to combine the surely nailed-on Djokovic with some other contenders. Given Federer's age and relative unpredictability at the majors these days (John Millman anyone?!) and Nadal's injury concerns (he hasn't played a competitive match since retiring at the US Open, remember), there's scope for imagination with a surprise finalist from the bottom half. 

Marin Cilic, the 2018 runner-up, pulled out of his only scheduled warm-up event in Pune with an injury so you might not want to go for Djokovic/Cilic (14/1 @ Paddy Power), and Djokovic/Nadal at 5/1 @ Betfair is a bit of a stretch - do we really think Nadal is going to be fit enough to last seven matches on punishing hard courts and going to be fortunate enough to avoid Federer, who has had his number of late? - but there's a lot of buzz around Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov, who could quite conceivably blow through the early-round opponents he's been handed and then give Federer all the raw power the 37-year-old can handle and maybe more, and a Djokovic/Khachanov final is 18/1 @ Paddy Power

Then there's Kevin Anderson, finalist at the US Open in 2017 and Wimbledon in 2018, who could be in for another marathon again John Isner in the fourth round but, if he can somehow avoid Nadal, is probably the second most dangerous player in the quarter; a Djokovic/Anderson final is 20/1 @ Betfair.

So there's scope for imagination, as Anne of Green Gables would say, in this bet but if you are playing it safe, you really can't go wrong with the six-time champion meeting the man who's made the final (and won it, but that's not the point) for the past two years.

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Stan Wawrinka to make the semifinals


Let's be real: If there's one quarter of the men's draw which is going to produce a surprise semifinalist, it's the second quarter - the one flanked by Alexander 'I can win everything except Slams' Zverev and Dominic 'Wait, this isn't clay' Thiem. (And yes, I'm being a little slighting of their chances, but Zverev has reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal in 14 appearances, Thiem has never made it past the round of 16 in Melbourne and both men had injury concerns coming in.)

This means you've got a chance to win something big. Even the odds on Zverev (11/4 @ Ladbrokes) and Thiem (7/1 at Coral) are good, and you could do even better. Don't be tempted by last year's semifinalist Hyeon Chung (33/1 @ Paddy Power), as he's struggled to stay fit enough to win matches ever since, and second favourite Borna Coric hasn't played a tournament so far in 2019 and has never been as far as a quarterfinal at a major, so that feels risky even at 6/1 @ bet365.

I invite you instead to focus on the small section of the draw that contains the following: Stan Wawrinka vs Ernests Gulbis, with the winner to face the winner of Nick Kyrgios vs Milos Raonic. With the other players involved in this quarter, there's a very real argument that whichever of those four makes the third round could well be in the semifinals. One-time top-10, long-time lost in the wilderness Ernests Gulbis (33/1 @ Coral) had some encouraging results in 2019, including a runner-up finish in Stockholm as a qualifier and a fourth-round finish at Wimbledon - would you ever really rule a player of the Latvian's considerable talent out? Talent is obviously not a problem for Nick Kyrgios (13/2 @ bet365) but fitness (and focus) definitely is. 

I think the man you're looking for is Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion. The three-time major winner - 15/2 @ Ladbrokes to win quarter 2 - has had a rough go of it since multiple knee surgeries in late 2017 and his ranking has dropped to world no. 59, but he has had the opportunity this off-season to actually train instead of rehabbing his knees, and this could make all the difference. Wawrinka may have lost to an inspired Bautista Agut in Doha in the warm-up, but so did tournament favourite Djokovic, and the Swiss also had a good win over Khachanov before that happened. He's still got one of the biggest games in town (just ask Grigor Dimitrov) and a proven Grand Slam record. It's hard to see him going all the way (i.e. past Djokovic and/or Federer), but to the semifinals? Absolutely.

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Australian Open men's tips: The best bets on the men's singles field at the 2019 Australian Open

We've got the best bets on the Australian Open men's singles field for 2019, starring six-time winner Novak Djokovic, defending champion Roger Federer and some wild cards as well ...

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