I can say I am going into the event in decent form after nearly having a four-fold up this week on the outrights. Alex De Minaur (6/1), Cameron Norrie (25/1), Petra Kvitova (16/1) and Sofia Kenin (14/1), almost coming up with goods. Norrie losing to Tennys Sandgren has cost me over 3k but I cannot be too annoyed with him as it was a solid effort all in all. I did have each-way trebles and four-folds which also had Ash Barty in them at 8/1, with all of the above. I basically perm around three players from each of the four events and do trebles, four-folds etc. It was a good week but it could have been a great week. Hopefully onwards and upwards. Or I might just have totally jinxed myself. Squeaky bum time coming up.
My form in Australia has been patchy over the last few years. If you read my blog last year I tipped up Wozniacki but was not so successful in the mens. I am going to give it another go here. There should be some favourites for you jolly backers to get stuck into and there should be a few bigger prices for those who like a run for their money. My usual disclaimers follow at this point.
I will not have I bet in this quarter, Djokovic is the 1/2 jolly. He is rightly an odds on poke for this quarter, but a little short possibly. There are potential tests against Tsonga, Shapovalov, Goffin/Medvedev and Nishikori. Yes, he should get through but I am not confident enough at the prices to get involved. Nishikori at 6/1 is tempting (it is generally 9/2), as is a throwaway on Shapovalov at 25/1. More for the perms though I think than for having a single on. No bet for me here.
In the second quarter, I will oppose Sascha Zverev. The favourite has had a hamstring and then an ankle injury this week. It has also been mentioned how Dominic Thiem gets nose bleeds over in Australia due to the dry conditions. This is a very competitive quarter that also contains Borna Coric, Hyeon Chung, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka.
I am going to back Coric and Stan the Man at 6/1-13/2 and 10/1 respectively. Coric, who has not been past the fourth round of a slam yet, is in the easier section of the quarter. This represents a real opportunity. I also just liked Stans effort in Doha, enough to give him a go, Gulbis will be followed by Kyrgios/Raonic, so not easy. For the romantics, 150/1 about Jeremy Chardy looks a bit big if Zverev isn’t right. Betfair/Paddy Power sticking their neck out there. The Frenchman can be very up and down in his form but has played well here in the past. It really is a throwaway bet though (perm only). I looked into players like Krajinovic and Cecchinato but I just don’t see it either. Hopefully one of the Swiss or the Croat gets it done here. That is where my money is.
The third quarter is Roger Federer’s. It also sees Andy Murray, in what sadly may be his last event before retirement. I would love to see him go through a few rounds here but his draw against Bautista-Agut is not the kindest. The Scot says the pain is bad, I just hope he can go out and enjoy it. The Fed-Express looks to have a nice trip to the fourth round, where he might face Stefanos Tsitsipas and then probably one of Cilic, Khachanov or Bautista Agut to win the quarter. You will probably know I like Khachanov but at the prices and with the draw I just can’t back him, he is as short as 5/1 to win the quarter.
Seeing Muzza at 40/1 is strange and I will just back the Scot for the bants, I would love it if he did it. Huge, huge ask all being told. Fed looks a risky bet at 11/10 but the others might tire themselves out en route, including the impressive Tsitsipas. So, Federer it is as the main bet. It will be a huge worry going forward for Federer should he not win this quarter, in my opinion.
The Final quarter sees Rafa Nadal as the jolly, 5/4 – 15/8. You know I love Rafa but there are too many injury concerns around him and the change of service makes it awkward to know what I am getting involved in. If it is all ok then that is a different story but I cannot be sure. Anderson, Dimitrov, Isner, Berdych, Edmund and Alex De Minaur are all in this section. It is probably too soon for the Aussie youngster as much as I rate him and he has been gubbed by the scheduling, which he is not happy about. Feli Lopez looks huge at 150/1 but that ship has surely sailed.
I am going to take the 9/2 Anderson as my bet. The South African is always going to leave everything out there and his application is spot on. He has never been past the fourth round in Melbourne, something that it is time to address. There are a lot of tough matches here but if Rafa is slightly off I think he has enough about him to capitalise. If I do cover, it will be on John Isner at 14/1. I think he will be in the zone Down Under even though the form doesn’t suggest it.
Novak Djokovic has been the outstanding performer since the second half of last year. He is rightly a strong favourite for the event but he has still lost a few matches and I am not totally convinced he is unbeatable right now. I wouldn’t say Nole was back to his best yet put it that way. I will take the 11/2 or bigger on Betfair Exchange about Federer. My record with Fed hasn’t always been great and I don’t normally tip him up these days, so we shall see. Kevin Anderson each-way at 28/1 is my other main runner in that half and potentially a few quid on Isner at 340 on the exchange. I will also back Stan Wawrinka at 66/1 each-way in the top half.
Now the Women’s Singles.
A section that has the Williams Sisters, Halep, Kasatkina, Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. Very much like in the men, I will not be getting involved in this quarter.
The big two in this section see joint favouritism. It is the toss of a coin between Noami Osaka and Elina Svitolina. Keys, Wang, Sevastova, Azarenka, Mertens and qualifier Biana Andreescu are all in here.
After a fair bit of deliberation, I have decided to go with Naomi Osaka. The US Open Champion is now a player I would expect to be fully in the zone for the slams. She has proved she is a good match player and though Svitolina is the End Of Year Champion, I am still to be fully convinced by her in the majors. I am not really sure where Madison Keys is at right now. This puts me off a cover on Elise Mertens. Anastasija Sevastova is also a tempting prospect but I am just going to stick with Osaka (probably not my biggest bet of the tournament though).
Aryna Sabalenka has impressed me as much as anyone in the last 6 months, the very fact that she is around 10/3 to win this quarter shows where the industry thinks she is at. A section that also contains the very useful Ash Barty, Kvitova, Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bencic and Jelena Ostapenko. Barty has been given a nice draw and is playing well, I just wonder if the pressure will get to her over in Melbourne. It is very intense there and the spotlight will be on. Kvitova will be buzzing coming in after winning in Sydney but I just feel she will come unstuck here. This is a quarter where a large number of the above players will be kept on their toes round by round.
I am going to put my trust in Sabalenka at 10/3-7/2. It really looks like the 20-Year-Old from Minsk will go on to great things. The power is incredible. She seems to accept pressure and get on with it. Should it prove too much for her though I will also back last years champion Caro Wozniacki. The Dane looks to be in the easier section of the quarter and the word from the practice courts is that she is looking good. Woz is also talking up her own chances and at 7/1 looks too big to me. I really see the winner coming from one of these two, so will back both.
This is another exceptionally competitive heat (as each section is in the womens). At first glance, I liked the favourite Angie Kerber but that has changed. Sloane Stephens is second in the betting and she has a decent draw. Will Sloane be on it? A real danger if so. It might be too much of a risk at 6/1 though. Bertens and Kontaveit are in particular sticky areas of the draw, so that’s put me off them.
Instead, I will go for Julia Goerges at 8/1 and Donna Vekic at anything bigger than 18/1. I will stick with German after her run at Wimbledon, as I think she deserves another go ( I did put her up in New York too). I also like Vekic’s chances at a bigger price. The Croat’s results have been improving and she has a good chance of going a few rounds, she may meet Kerber in the last 32. I have just realised I have put Stan and Donna up together, not intentional.
I will go with three each-way bets in the bottom half at the prices, Wozniacki at 25/1, Julia Goerges at 50/1 and a for the big price backers amongst you, Donna Vekic at 150/1 – 200/1. I am hoping I get a good run from the first two and Vekic is like a wildcard, if you like. Sabalenka at 11/1 is just a tad too short for me on the outright.
I am not going to lie, I personally will also be backing Serena at 9/2 (probably each-way). I put her up at Wimbledon and the US Open and you would have had your chances to guarantee profit before both of her finals losses. For the record, I doubt I will be tipping her up for the French this year before I get asked. The truth is I am a lot more likely to back Serena in a slam than a normal week on the tour. It is all about the slams for her now.
Happy punting, I will keep you updated in my daily blogs of any hedging bets or additional ones (if it’s going horribly wrong) when it comes to these markets.
Andy Del Potro