The tournament favourite, Novak Djokovic, headlines the first quarter where we are offering a price of 1/2 for him to storm his storm his quarter. His opening opponent is unheralded American Mitchell Krueger, one of the plucky qualifiers who managed to wrestle an elusive pass to the main draw of this prestigious event.
He will likely meet a Frenchman returning to form, big Jo Tsonga, in the second round and this should produce his first test of the tournament.
Tsonga has an admirable seven victories over Djokovic in the past and both are susceptible to the odd grand slam five-setter as well.
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Will we get a repeat this year?
With other possible fixtures including Denis Shapovalov in the third round, Daniil Medvedev in the fourth, Kei Nishikori in the quarters, Sasha Zverev in the semis and Roger Federer in the final, it certainly won’t be an easy ride if Djokovic wants to capture his seventh Australian Open and his 15th Grand Slam title overall.
In saying this however, we still firmly expect him to win this quarter with the Japanese star Kei Nishikori a fine alternative at 9/2.
This has to be the most competitive and interesting quarter of the four with Alexander Zverev leading the market at 5/2. With Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka all firmly in the mix as well.
Zverev’s seeding has done him massive favours here and he has got a nice draw until the fourth round. He should easily dispatch the nomad Alize Bedene in the opening round and there should be a similar story in round two when he will likely come up against Jeremy Chardy, who has been showing decent form currently.
Jack Sock or Gilles Simon should be waiting in the third round, but this should be another formality for Sasha. The fun will begin in the fourth round where he will have to face off against either Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka or Ernie Gulbis. We can certainly see the upset happening here as all the aforementioned players can be devastating when at their best.
However, the man we see clinching this quarter is the talented Serb Borna Coric at 11/2. He shouldn’t face any problems until he meets Dominic Thiem in the fourth round and we fancy him to upstage the renowned clay courter Thiem here to go into the quarter final.
Six-time Australian Open Champion Roger Federer is the clear favourite at 5/6 in this quarter.
He will have no problems in the opening two rounds where he’s is due to meet Denis Istomin and a qualifier. Gael Monfils likely waits for Federer in the third round, but the flamboyant Frenchman is well past his best these days.
A future star Stefanos Tsitsipas could be in the fourth round and this should be a cracking encounter yet we still fully expect Roger to progress. The quarter-final match up will likely see him pitted against perennial slam contender Marin Cilic or maybe just maybe could it be Bernie “I count my millions,” Tomic who sneaks into it. That would be a spectacle for sure.
Others of note in this quarter are certainly Karen Khachanov at 5/1 and possibly even the in-form Roberto Bautista Agut at 16/1.
The last quarter seems to be the most difficult one to decipher.
It has a clear favourite in the legendary Rafael Nadal at 11/10, however, as seems to be the case with every hard court tournament he plays, he comes into this with injury concerns.
Nadal underwent a successful surgery in early November to fix an ailing ankle injury. He returned in late December for an exhibition match with Kevin Anderson in Abu Dhabi, which was his first match since the US Open back in early September and recently withdrew from ATP Brisbane in order to be ‘fully’ right for this week.
It’s hard to truly know how Nadal’s body holds up over the coming fortnight, but if he is anywhere near right he will be a real threat to anybody he faces. We currently are offering odds of 7/1 for him to win the outright.
Rafa opens his account against Australian journeyman James Duckworth and likely to be followed by a meeting with Jan Lennard Struff. A stern test will surely await him in the third round, where he could face off with Australian youngster Alex De Minaur.
Still only a teenager, De Minaur has been in super form since narrowly losing the Next Gen Finals back in November. He lost a toughly contested battle to Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter finals at ATP Brisbane last week.
He is known for his outrageous fitness levels and his Murray-esq return ability and never say die attitude, which are certainly agreeable attributes to hold against a typically relentless Nadal. If Nadal overcomes this match-up, he will like face either Kyle Edmund or Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.
There shouldn’t be too many problems here. The quarter final would surely see him battle it out with one from the trio of Kevin Anderson, John Isner or Grigor Dimitrov. If his fitness holds out, we still fancy Nadal to conquer this quarter, however the following outsiders undeniably warrant consideration.
The aforementioned De Minaur is a tasty price at 9/1 and we wouldn’t deter punters from having a go at Grigor Dimitrov at 5/1 or the tour de force of old Mr Tomas Berdych at 20/1, which seems a huge price for a solid player like him.
Tournament Top Tips
It’s going to be a tough task for anyone to usurp the massively in form Novak Djokovic (6/5), but there are two players that we reckon will have a right crack off this year’s tournament if the stars align for them.
Borna Coric – 40/1
We would have liked to see him play some competitive tennis this year, but alas we can take massive confidence from his end of year form in 2018. He looked a special talent in the Shanghai Masters back in October, where he produced a competitive display to lose out to Novak Djokovic in the final (beating Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro and Roger Federer along the way).
Most recently he dominated Jeremy Chardy to win in straight sets during Croatia’s triumph in the Davis Cup in late November. With an extremely favourable draw released on Thursday, we expect him to go deep into the second week. Don’t sleep on these odds.
Kei Nishikori – 18/1
I know what you’re thinking… he is in the same quarter as Djokovic, so no chance.
But, let’s take a minute a look back at his form since August. US Open semi-final appearance, semis of ATP Metz, final of ATP Tokyo, final of ATP Vienna, QF of the Paris Masters (narrowly losing to Roger Federer), won ATP Hawaii – when he trumped Milos Raonic in the Final – and won again last week at ATP Brisbane.
To say Kei is simmering would be an understatement and if there is any man who can take down Djokovic early we fancy it to be him.Find the latest tennis odds over on paddypower.com