Australian Open 2020 women’s favourites – predictions and tips for outright winner of the first Grand Slam of the year

Hannah Wilks:

Naomi Osaka is the defending champion, Ashleigh Barty the home favourite and Serena Williams the perpetual threat but who is the best pick to win the women's singles title at the 2020 Australian Open champion? We've analysed the chances of the favourites for outright winner in the women's singles at the 2020 Australian Open.

WRITTEN BY ANDREW HENDRIE

Another wide open women’s Grand Slam field awaits at the 2020 Australian Open as a fresh decade of tennis gets underway at Melbourne Park from January 20.

Unlike men’s tennis, where the majors have been dominated by four individuals for over a decade, women’s tennis is as fresh and unpredictable as ever as we enter the 2020s, with any number of 20+ players having strong claims for the Australian Open title.

Leading the pack is of course the legendary Serena Williams, who continues her pursuit of an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles title – and what better place to equal Margaret Court’s record than the Australian Open?

Serena (11/2 @ bet365) hasn’t won a title since claiming the 2017 Australian Open while three months pregnant, but she’s come agonisingly close on a number of occasions, reaching four major finals over the last two seasons (two each at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open).

The American has proven she doesn’t need much tennis to get going and if Serena keeps putting herself in these positions, she’s too good a player not to take her chance sooner rather than later. But can she return to the Australian Open final in what is an extremely competitive field?

The player that beat Serena in the U.S. Open final – Canada’s teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu – is sensationally the second favourite for the 2020 Australian Open after having to play qualifying at the tournament 12 months ago.

Andreescu was the undisputed breakout player of 2019 as she won Indian Wells and the Rogers Cup to go with her stunning U.S. Open triumph, and if she can remain injury free, she will be very hard to beat in Melbourne. But injuries have played a big part in her young career to date and it’s no guarantee Andreescu will be fully fit come the Australian Open after she was forced to withdraw from the WTA Finals at the end of 2019.

World No. 1 and Australia’s own Ashleigh Barty (8/1 @ bet365) put together a phenomenal season in 2019 as she won her first Grand Slam and Premier Mandatory titles at Roland Garros and Miami, while she also secured the WTA Finals Shenzhen crown to end the season at the top of the rankings. Barty is as relaxed and chilled as they come, but I do wonder how she will handle the pressure and expectation of the home crowd if she goes deep.

What about defending champion Naomi Osaka? The Japanese-Haitian star is the defending champion after her superb triumph over Petra Kvitova in the 2019 final, and after linking up with Wim Fissette for the 2020 season, Osaka (10/1 @ bet365) is primed to bounce back to her best form. With her great form to end 2019 in mind, where she won titles in Osaka and Beijing, the World No. 3 is as good a chance as any to prevail once more at the Australian Open.

Speaking of super coaches, Darren Cahill is back working with Simona Halep (10/1 @ bet365) and that could easily spark the Romanian back to her own best tennis as the 2018 runner-up goes in search of her third major title after triumphs at Roland Garros 2018 and Wimbledon 2019.

Karolina Pliskova will always be in the conversation, but I feel the Czech has struggled to find her best tennis when it matters most – and that’s backed up by her inability as of yet to win a major or Premier Mandatory. The Czech is 12/1 @ bet365 to snap her major drought at the Australian Open, as is Elina Svitolina (16/1 @ bet365).

Petra Kvitova, last year’s runner-up, looks tremendous value at 25/1 @ bet365, as does former champion Angelique Kerber, who seems to have developed a pattern of one good year, one poor year – is the German set for another strong season in 2020?

Aryna Sabalenka (20/1 @ bet365) is another player who finished 2019 in strong fashion and should she play her best tennis in Melbourne, is someone very capable of blitzing everyone in the draw.

As mentioned at the top of the piece, there’s a number of other players that can emerge triumphant in Melbourne, including Belinda Bencic (25/1 @ bet365), Sloane Stephens (25/1 @ bet365), Amanda Anisimova (25/1 @ bet365) and Kiki Bertens (33/1 @ bet365).

But for me, Serena, Osaka, Andreescu (if fit), Barty and Halep are the five leading contenders. Of those, I think Halep is the best value. She’s back with Cahill, knows what it takes to make the final in Melbourne and has well and truly figured out how to peak for the majors (and pace herself through a tournament). It’s all about avoiding early round upsets for a lot of the top seeds, and if Halep can make it into the second week, she’s as good a chance as any to take home the title.