We’ve made it to the first major of the new decade and the man who has ruled tennis for the past 10 years looks set to continue that dominance in Melbourne. We may also have a very familiar champion on the women’s side as a certain 23-time major winner has started 2020 in fine fettle.
Here are my outright favourites and some value bets for the 2020 Australian Open.
If the seven-time champion Down Under had not played a point before the tournament, he would be the clear favourite. But his performances in the ATP Cup – as he led Serbia to the title – were simply awesome.
Djokovic’s confidence was stratospheric as he survived a spirited challenge from Daniil Medvedev in the semis before outplaying Rafa Nadal in the final. The Serb has a good draw through the first four rounds here with a potential last eight clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas on the horizon. From there, it could be the old Federer-then-Nadal combo.
The way Djokovic is playing though, I doubt he’s afraid of anyone.
The relentless Russian has started the year as he closed 2019. The 23-year-old led his nation to the last four of the ATP Cup and kept Djokovic on court for almost three hours in the semis.
Medvedev was service king at the 2019 US Open with 102 aces and delivered another 45 at the ATP Cup. I feel he’ll have another deep run in Melbourne which should help the ace count.
The ageless American could not be happier with her start to the season as she notched singles title no.73 in Auckland. Like Djokovic, Williams is chasing an eighth Aussie Open title and will be generally encouraged by her draw. The 38-year-old’s serve alone should take her through the first four matches before a likely showdown with defending champion Naomi Osaka in the quarters.
If the two meet, that match could well decide the final destination of the trophy. In Williams’s favour, she won their last meeting (Toronto 2019).
In so much as a world no.2 can be, the Czech is a dark horse. A former US Open finalist and a foundation of the WTA’s top five, Pliskova is still searching for a major.
Who knows whether she’ll end that drought this fortnight, but she should at least make the business stage. Pliskova just defended her title at Brisbane and recorded a hard fought victory over Osaka in the process.
The 27-year-old should advance from her quarter with Elina Svitolina or Kiki Bertens potential party poopers.
I’ve already mentioned Djokovic and Williams but what about Nadal and Barty? While it’s been over a decade since the Mallorcan lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, he’s made the final three times. Rafa has a challenging route to the last day here with many potential landmines including Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev.
As for Barty, she has a better shot at winning her home major but her path isn’t the easiest. The world no.1 will need to be at her best in a section with rising star Elena Rybakina, Alison Riske, Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys.