The Australian Open now underway we take an in-depth look at the draw as it’s taking shaping, revisit the outright tennis odds to win and determine the best bets to win the quarters.
Australian Open Odds To Win Outright:
When we posted our early preview for the Australian Open a few weeks ago, there were few surprises on the tennis odds board. The usual suspects led the charge at the time: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray completed the top four tennis picks. Two days into the tournament, the so-called Big 4 remain at the vanguard of the Australian Open futures market, albeit reshuffled in order, a happenstance that is down to several factors, namely the draw and form going into the event.
Djokovic remains the top favourite at -110 (bet down from +100) but Roger Federer leap frogs Nadal into second place at +550 (down from +600, largely down to his win in Brisbane a week ago). Rafael Nadal (bet up from +500) and Andy Murray (bet up from +650) are on par at +800, joint third faves for the title.
Other contenders for the title we previewed included Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, both remaining on their respective +1200 and +1400 tennis odds to win the tournament. The only notable movers in this group are Milos Raonic (bet down from +5000 to +3300) and Grigor Dimitrov (bet up from + 2000 to +4000). The rest of the field remains largely intact, barely moving on the tennis odds board.
1st Quarter: Djokovic and Raonic
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 4-0
The first quarter of the draw has lumped World No.1 Novak Djokovic and Canadian No.1 Milos Raonic together. On paper, this is one of the tougher sections not only on the strength of this pair but also on the mix of players contained within. Predictably, Djokovic has the quarter firmly cornered in his camp on -500 tennis odds. His path to the quarterfinals is not straightforward by any stretch of the imagination, but the only perceivable threat to him reaching the last 8 and a date with Raonic (+600 to win the quarter) is John Isner. The big-serving American John Isner (+2500 to win the quarter) would be a R16 opponent if all goes to script. On the other side of the quarter, Raonic could face a few more credible challengers to his bid for a quarterfinal berth, including Aussie’s own Lleyton Hewitt (+8000 to win the quarter) and dangerous floaters Jerzy Janowicz or Gael Monfils (the latter of which is priced at +1400 to win the quarter).
1st Quarterfinal Matchup Verdict and Pick: If all goes to script, we should have a quarterfinal between Djokovic and Raonic. Raonic made great strides last season and at the start of this season (finalist to Federer in Brisbane), but he’s yet to get a signature win over a top player at such a prestigious event. Should it come down to this pair, betting against Djokovic just doesn’t go down well on our tennis picks.
Top Tennis Pick: Djokovic at -500 to win quarter.
Dark horse players to Spot: Raonic +600, Isner +2500 and Monfils +1400
2nd Quarter: Wawrinka and Nishikori
Head-to-head: Wawrinka Leads 2-1
To many tennis experts, the second quarter is wide open even though it contains the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss has only ever won one major in his career and rather late in said career. The idea that he would repeat as champion is wildly optimistic, particularly as he doesn’t have an impressive track record of success when it comes to defending any title. That sentiment is echoed in the rather tight tennis betting landscape between the three legitimate contenders contained within the 2nd quarter: Wawrinka at +110, Nishikori at +163 and Ferrer at +400 (Odds To Win the Quarter). Adding to the dilemma this section presents handicapping is the well-balanced mix of players also in this section and that includes several dangerous floaters, mainly Gilles Simon, Jarkko Nieminen, Ivan Dodig, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Vasek Pospil, players that could shake up the draw in the early goings.
2nd Quarterfinal Matchup Verdict and Pick: We’ve gone back and forth on this quarter, not unlike a tennis rally. In a perfect world, we’d have a Wawrinka vs. Nishikori showdown. Wawrinka’s corner is the lightest of this section with only up-and-coming Vasek Pospisil coming across as a realistic threat in his path, which means he should at least reach the quarters. Then again, he can blow hot and cold from time to time, at which point he’s beatable by just about anybody in his corner. Nishikori will need to do a lot of hard graft to reach the quarters if he comes up against either Simon or Ferrer in the R16; neither veteran is going to make it easy for the Japanese star.
Top Tennis Pick: Nishikori to win Quarter at +163
Dark Horse Players To Spot: Ferrer +400, Simon +2500 and/or Pospisil +1800
3rd Quarter: Nadal and Berdych
Head-to-head: Nadal Leads 18-3
The third quarter of the draw is one of the toughest of the entire 2015 Australian Open with both Nadal and Berdych flanking opposing ends. It's also the one garnering most attention. The Spaniard (matched at +800 to win it all) was a finalist last year, but an injury-strewn second half of 2014 has taken the shine off his chances to reach a second straight final. It remains to be seen how well Nadal plays, but he's off to an auspiciou start to his campaign Down Under.
Nadal’s path could go through Lukas Rosol in the third round and Richard Gasquet or Kevin Anderson in the R16. Nevertheless, he’s the fave at -138 to win this quarter. Tomas Berdych’s section is a lot tougher in some respects with Jurgen Melzer coming up next, a resurgent Victor Troicki as a potential third round against either Kohlschreiber or one of several Aussie hopefuls from Tomic, Groth to Kokkinais. Berdych has his work cut out for him to reach the last 8, never mind win the quarter at +225 tennis odds.
3rd Quarterfinal Matchup Verdict and Pick: Indeed, there are minefields everywhere, prompting this section to be dubbed the ‘group of death’ in the eyes of many tennis betting fans. Nevertheless, Nadal is the popular tennis pick at -138 to win this section. It’s absurd to go against him when he’s one of the most consistent performers at this level. If Nadal reaches the quarterfinals, he’ll be tough to beat.
Top Tennis Pick: Nadal -138 to win Quarter
Dangerous Floaters To Spot: Everybody and Anybody.
4th Quarter: Federer and Murray
Head-to-head: Federer leads 12-11
Finally, the fourth quarter looms as the toughest sections with two of the top 4 favourites for the title flanking either side, and a whole slew of up-and-comers, contenders and veterans thrown into the mix. In Federer’s immediate section, veterans Andreas Seppi, Jeremy Chardy and Ivo Karlovic (to name a few) loom as well as Aussie rising star Nick Kyrgios. The biggest threat looms in Andy Murray’s direct path to the quarterfinals though: Grigor Dimitrov as a potential R16 challenger. Others in his section that deserve a mention are David Goffin (another up-and-comer), Martin Klizan and Marcos Baghdatis, all capable of shaking up the draw in the early goings.
4th Quarterfinal Matchup Verdict and Pick: Tennis purists are gagging after a Murray-Federer showdown in the quarterfinals. It's one of the better rivalries in today's game. Bookies favour Federer at -138 to win the quarter while matching Murray at tempting +188 tennis futures. Should it come down to this pair, it’s anybody’s guess.
Top Tennis Pick: Federer -138 to win Quarter
Dangerous Floaters To Spot: Murray +188, Dimitrov +650