As the 2015 tennis betting season gets underway this weekend, we look ahead to the Grand Slam tennis odds board and preview some of the early contenders for the 2015 Australian Open title.
Serena Williams Leads The Charge
When it comes to tennis betting in the women's game, Serena Williams perennially leads the charge on the tennis board across sportsbook platforms. That stance hasn't changed despite the chaos currently prevalent in the game and Serena going from utterly unplayable and unbeatable to relatively vulnerable and inconsistent in 2014. As it stands, Serena Williams is the top favourite at +188 to win outright, a good distance ahead of the six likeliest contenders for the title: Victoria Azarenka (+650), Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep ( both at +700), Eugenie Bouchard and Petra Kvitova (+1000) and Caroline Wozniacki (+1200).
Is It Serena's Title To Win?
There's of course legitimate arguments on both sides of the coin. Last season delivered four different champions in the women's game: Li Na (Aussie Open), Maria Sharapova (French Open), Petra Kvitova (Wimbledon) and Serena Williams (US Open). Indeed, the American snuck into the winners circle at the tail end of the season, a win that salvaged her year in the eyes of many tennis pundits and experts alike and which she then capped off with the season ending WTA Tour Championships title.
Her US Open marked her career 18th Grand Slam title, propelling her into the stratosphere of the women's game where she now hobnobs with legends such as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, to name a few. By virtue of her accomplishments in the game, there's an argument that it is her title to win or lose. What 2014 revealed though is a beatable Serena on the Grand Slam stage, more so than she ever was in previous seasons in recent memory. That knowledge made its way into the locker room, the upshot of which more than a few players have been willing to take it to her since.
That alone makes her claim on the title somewhat tenuous. So towards that end, we look at some of the players that are favoured on the tennis betting board and then an individual look at those that can take it to Serena and give her a run for her money at the 2015 Australian Open. This doesn't mean that Serena isn't a good tennis pick to win the title outright, but for the Tennis odds value there may be other tennis picks for you to consider.
Favourites To Win the Aussie Open Title After Serena
Bookies have identified their favourites for the title Down Under, six favourites beginning with Azarenka at +650 and ending with Wozniaki at +1200. It's a wide selection of players representing the different game styles and attributes. Of that sextuplet, three are former Grand Slam champions: Azarenka (two-time Aussie Open), Kvitova (two-time Wimbledon champion) and Sharapova (five-time champion, including the career slam). That marker makes them viable contenders for the Australian Open title.
Kvitova (+1000) was the second-best player in 2014 in the second half of the season en route to Singapore. After winning Wimbledon convincingly, she went on a tear to reach Singapore and finish the season on a positive note with a Fed Cup win for the Czech Republic over Germany. Health and fitness don't seem to be as much of a concern as they were in previous season with the Czech enjoying the best form of her career and hiring a new fitness trainer and physiotherapist Alex Stober.
Sharapova (+700) is a proven champion several times over, which makes her an attractive tennis bet at every major event. As the current World No.2, top spot in the game could be on the line between her and Serena at the Aussie Open, which is added incentive between two players that are true rivals in the spirit of the word (no love lost between them) and equally competitive and hungry for victory. The head-to-head edge tips overwhelmingly in favour of Serena, so it would take the best match of Sharapova's life to transcend the losing streak. Sharapova fans buck up: inevitably, streaks end, so say the Law of Averages. Perhaps, it'll be the case in Melbourne this year if it comes down to the pair.
Halep (+700) and Bouchard (+1000) are two of the game's up-and-comers that enjoyed breakthroughs in 2014. Both reached a major final and climbed the WTA charts. Of the pair, Halep seems to be better prepared for 2015. She has the better major accounts and signature wins to her name as well as bolstering her coaching camp while Bouchard has signed lucrative sponsorship deals and split with long-time coach Nick Saviano.
Halep managed to give Sharapova a run for her money in the French Open final, a three setter that had the entire French crowd standing in ovation at the end. And she earned a signature win over Serena Williams in Singapore at the season-ending champions, a 6-2, 6-0 win that left the tennis betting world agog and sets her up as an interesting first-time champion tennis pick in 2015.
Bouchard signed lucrative sponsorship and modelling contracts set to have her raking in the dough off the tennis courts in 2015. Needless to say, Bouchard isn't just eye candy. She can play. One wonders though whether this newfound fame and popularity won't be a distraction. Those sponsorship deals put a lot of pressure on players to maintain a certain level (top five ranking) in order to continue to draw off-court deals. That she's yet to announce a new coach and the season is all but ready to get off the ground casts doubt on her preparations for the season and her value as the +1000 tennis pick.
In an interesting twist worth noting, Sloane Stephens hired Bouchard's former coach Nick Saviano. Tennis fans in the know will remember the promise Stephens showed in 2013 after beating Serena Williams to reach the Australian Open semis. Saviano, who trained Bouchard at his academy since she was 12 years old was largely responsible for her meteoric rise up the rankings to World No. 7. Stephens is a quality prospect with which he could do the same, if not better. Stephens is currently trading as the long shot at +4000.
Players That Can Give Serena A Run For Her Money
In spite of a rather inactive 2014, Victoria Azarenka (+650) emerges as the second favourite to win the coveted title by virtue of her previous successes at the event. A back-to-back champion in 2012-2013, she plays some of her best tennis Down Under. A consummative competitor, she's also one of few players to have recorded wins over Serena when the American starlet was in top form. Crucially, she's been able to pull it off in a final of an event when Serena is, arguably, utterly unplayable more often than not. Azarenka beat Serena at the Miami final (2009), Doha final (2013) and Cincinnati final (2013). She also gave Serena a run for her money at the 2013 US Open final 7-5, 6-7(8), 6-1 and the Brisbane final (2014) 6-4, 7-5.
The second standout player of 2014 and emerging threat to Serena was Carolina Wozniacki, (+1200) behind a renaissance that saw her soar back into the top ten fold and into the grand slam conversation. A former World No.1, known best for being a slam-less No.1, Wozniacki played some of the best tennis of her career, particularly during the US hard court season. She took Serena to three-set matches in all their encounters during that run, including the US Open final. A refocused, recharged Wozniacki in 2015 is a delightful tennis betting prospect because she's been through the ups and downs of the women's game. Knowing firsthand what it's like being at the top and then tumbling off that perch dramatically is an intangible that could serve her well as she pursues her first Grand Slam title.
Outside Contenders By The Odds
Bookies have priced Agnieszka Radwanska (+2500), Ana Ivanovic, Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber (all at +3300) and Sloane Stephens (+4000) as the reasonable outside contenders for the Australian Open title, with the rest of the field set at +5000 or higher (in other words the pretenders). These ladies represent an excellent group of contenders in our opinion. All six have plenty of weapons in their games and five of the six have wins over Serena (exception being Radwanska, although the Polish star did take Serena to an incredible three-set final at Wimbledon three years ago).
Tennis Betting Verdict:
The women's game is wide open this season. Serena is always going to be a good bet on your Tennis picks to win at +188, but there are several attractive options tennis bettors should consider. Kvitova at +1000 and Wozniacki at +1200 hold the best appeal in our opinion as experienced professionals in the game. Halep at +700 is also a determined contender to spot. Garbine Mugurza (+3300) and Sloane Stephens (+4000) are dark horse tennis picks to spot.