The 2021 Australian Open takes place from from February 8-21 in Melbourne, having seen its original January dates get pushed back, and the likes of Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty have all travelled Down Under with their sights set on glory in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Australian Open Betting Tips & Predictions: Men’s Singles
Now the undisputed greatest men’s champion in Australian Open history, Novak Djokovic returns to Melbourne looking for his ninth singles title, as well as revenge on Rafael Nadal for the latter’s crushing victory over him in the French Open final. It isn’t quite the stranglehold that Nadal has established over Roland Garros, but it’s close. Djokovic has won eight of the past 13 Australian Opens – and like Nadal at the French Open, remains unbeaten in finals – so it is no shock that the Serbian star is currently the favourite to win in 2021.
Only Nadal was able to beat Djokovic in a completed match in 2020, and despite the truncated season, that’s still an incredibly impressive record. Nadal is the second favourite here, partly because he did get that victory over Djokovic in such dominant fashion at the French Open and partly because, despite having not won the title since 2009, he has featured in a subsequent four Australian Open finals. Nadal has had some bad luck with injury in those finals, and been outplayed in others, but he keeps putting himself in position to challenge for the trophy.
A mark against Nadal, however, is that Dominic Thiem has proven he can beat the Spaniard on hard courts over the best-of-five sets. After his run to the Australian Open final and his US Open victory in 2020, Thiem will be seen as almost as big an ‘X-factor’ in terms of where he lands in the draw as Federer; at the very least, the Austrian can be relied upon to drain the energy reserves of whichever of Nadal and Djokovic he should meet in the semi-finals.
Despite a slightly disappointing 2020 season, Daniil Medvedev is being considered as much of a favourite for the Australian Open title as Thiem, a testament to the perceived danger the lanky Russian with the grinding game and unexpectedly big serve poses to the top players. The 2019 US Open runner-up has beaten Djokovic more than once, but not in best-of-five, and he’s never beaten Nadal or Federer, however; he also has a poor record against Thiem. It’s much more of a stretch to see Medvedev winning the title than it is to see Thiem.
It’s a considerably bigger stretch to see Alexander Zverev winning the title after his nervy performance in the US Open final, even if by some miracle he doesn’t have to play a member of the Big Three; Stefanos Tsitsipas hasn’t proved he can make an impact on Nadal or Djokovic over best-of-five.
However, it’s difficult to envision anyone in the field beating Djokovic Down Under, and that’s why he’s justifiably the favourite once more. We agree with the bookies and as such we are backing Djokovic to claim a ninth Australian Open title in 14 years.
Australian Open Betting Tips & Predictions: Women’s Singles
With women’s tennis so much more wide open than the men’s – 21 different women have won major titles in the past decade, with four women winning their maiden major title at the Australian Open – there are plenty of opportunities to win big even when backing one of the favourites.
World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty and three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka are currently the front-runners for the Australian Open 2021 title, and of the two, Osaka looks the much better bet. When the 2021 Australian Open begins, Barty will have played, at best, a handful of WTA Tour events since the previous February. The Australian prefers a lot of matches to get her rhythm, especially with her forehand at times so erratic, and she will also be under huge pressure to win her ‘home’ Slam.
Osaka’s results in the United States when tennis returned late last year were brilliant and she seems increasingly settled and comfortable in her role as a top player. The conditions in Melbourne also suit her game, as we saw when she won the title in 2019, and she has the tools to beat simply any other player in the field if she is playing well.
That’s not something that can be said for defending champion Sofia Kenin. The American is fundamentally a counter-puncher with a devastating down-the-line backhand return and a willingness to finish off the point with a swing volley, and she added the drop shot to her repertoire during her run to the French Open final. But she can absolutely be overpowered by a player with a more explosive game – as can Simona Halep.
Halep, who did not get the chance to defend her Wimbledon title in 2020, was a finalist at the Australian Open in 2019 and the overwhelming favourite to win the French Open, but the way she was shocked by Iga Swiatek (who also beat Elina Svitolina in the final) showed the limits to her counterpunching game that still remain.
Swiatek was superlatively good at the French Open, but remains a raw competitor and an unknown quantity at just 19, while seven-time champion Serena Williams has increasingly struggled with the demands of playing seven matches. A key point to watch out for when the draw comes out is whether Williams is in the side of the draw which will play quarter- and semi-finals on back-to-back days; if she is, it will materially damage her chances of winning the title, and she is also certainly a threat to pull out with injury.
Even though she remains the most dazzling power player in the game and gifted with the best serve the sport has ever known, Williams at 40 now looks vulnerable every time she takes the court – and the rest of the field knows it. Therefore we are siding with Osaka to claim the title for the second time in three years.
Australian Open Live Odds
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