The 2020 Australian Open is finally here, with the world's best tennis players descending on Melbourne to battle for supremacy in the first Grand Slam of the year.
Get BettingPro’s best bets for every single day of the Australian Open powered by the experts at LiveTennis with the team providing you with supreme insight and expert tips right across the tournament.
Saturday 1 February
Sofia Kenin vs Garbine Muguruza
If somebody says they predicted this final before the tournament started, they are simply lying. But, with everything that has transpired over the last fortnight in Melbourne, I’m very confident that Muguruza will be winning her third Grand Slam title on Saturday night – and I think she’ll do it in style.
Muguruza was almost unstoppable when she became the only player in history to beat both Williams sisters in Grand Slam finals when she triumphed over Serena at Roland Garros in 2016 and Venus at Wimbledon in 2017 – and after two rough seasons in 2018 and 2019, she’s suddenly re-discovered that type of tennis at the Australian Open.
There was absolutely no indication this was going to happen, especially after she withdrew with a viral illness from Hobart just days before the Australian Open started and went on to lose the first set of her opening round to Shelby Rogers 0-6. The odds on Muguruza winning the tournament at that time would have been outrageous.
But the Venezuelan-born Spaniard has flipped the switch and has only dropped one set since, steamrolling Rogers 6-0 6-1 in their next two sets and overcoming Aussie favourite Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets in the second round. From there, Muguruza has been supremely dominant, conquering three top 10 players in straight sets (Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Simona Halep), while she also upstaged an extremely in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was playing top 10 level tennis herself.
The point is once Muguruza gets on this type of roll, the very best in the world have failed to stop her in the past – which I don’t think bodes well for Sofia Kenin.
The American is without doubt a special and rising talent, but I think she might get a bit overwhelmed with the power coming from the other side of the net on Saturday night. Before facing Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals, the average rank of Kenin’s opponents in her first five matches in Melbourne was 95, while let’s be honest – Barty didn’t even play top 30 tennis on Thursday, let alone the standard expected of a World No. 1.
Barty was understandably nervous and Kenin’s steady and reliable baseline game took advantage, but that won’t be enough in the final. Muguruza shouldn’t be feeling many nerves – she’s been here before and won two slam titles, while her steely presence and quotes she’s been giving off over the last week makes me think she has her eyes firmly fixated on the prize. Muguruza will also attack Kenin’s serve, especially the second delivery, so the American won’t have any breathing room there.
Kenin won their only previous meeting towards the end of last year in three sets, but that match doesn’t matter with Muguruza back to her best. The Spaniard has been operating at a ridiculously high level in her last four matches and I think she’s set for a one-sided victory and a third Grand Slam title on Saturday night.
Sunday February 2
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem
As much as I want a competitive final on Sunday night to close the 2020 Australian Open, I don’t think we’re going to see one – which speaks volumes to the level Djokovic is operating at, because Thiem has been extremely impressive in reaching his first hardcourt slam final over the last fortnight.
Furthermore, Thiem has beaten Djokovic in four of their last five meetings and has won three hardcourt titles over the last 12 months, while he also finished runner-up at the ATP Finals in November – beating the Serbian along the way.
But Djokovic is a different beast at Melbourne Park – and I also believe the 16-time major champion was far from his best in three of those four losses to Thiem, while it’s also important to note that the bulk of those matches were contested on clay.
Nobody has had more success at the Australian Open than Djokovic and the Serbian is looking as dominant as ever, coming into the final on the back of a 12-match winning streak dating back to the start of the ATP Cup. The names he’s beaten along the way: Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Roger Federer. The combined sets he’s dropped against that quartet: one – against Medvedev in the ATP Cup in Sydney.
With his beefed up serve and return/defensive game as strong as its ever been, it’s basically impossible to bet against Djokovic – and I think he’ll be getting this done in straight sets.
Thiem has found himself in energy-sapping encounters in his last two matches just to make it to the final, spending a combined seven hours and 52 minutes on court against Nadal and Alexander Zverev. The Austrian has also been struggling with a virus throughout the tournament and was referencing his stomach at stages during his win over Zverev.
The World No. 5 has the firepower and weapons to do some damage, but I fear if he doesn’t win the first set, he could fall away both physically and mentally. Djokovic will know this and realise the significance of getting off to a good start – if he wins the opener, the chances of Thiem winning three of the next four sets is almost impossible.
The scary thing is Djokovic has another level to go to, like he did last year when he crushed Nadal in straight sets in the final – whereas I think we’ve seen the best Thiem has to offer, which is still ridiculously good, but probably not good enough for facing the seven-time champion.
Like Thiem said after beating Zverev, he’s been unlucky to run into the ‘Kings’ of the French Open and Australian Open in his three slam finals to date. Like I mentioned earlier, if Djokovic wins the first set, this could turn into a very one-sided victory for the Serbian.