World number 1 Novak Djokovic heads into the 2016 Australian Open as an overwhelming favourite and if form is anything to go by, there isn’t a player on the planet that can stop him from winning a record 6th Australian Open title. We take a look at the Big 4, the best roughies along with the floaters in the draw, and the Australian contingent.
The first thing to note is the fact that the Big 4 no longer includes 14 time Grand Slam winner and former Champion here Rafael Nadal. Stan Wawrinka has earned that right and the multiple Grand Slam winner who was forever living the shadows of fellow countryman Roger Federer has made a genuine name for himself. Novak remains the leader of the pack while Andy Murray looks to add an Australian Open crown to his cabinet after losing in the final here previously on four occasions. Last but not least there is the crowd favourite and 17 time major winner Roger Federer who despite his age continues to be a threat at every tournament he contests. The performance of Novak in 2015 suggests that there is a Big 1 and then a big gap to the rest of the field but we won’t make a mistake and write off the chasing pack before a ball is served.
Novak is coming off one of the most dominant years on tour finishing just one match short of the Grand Slam. He won his 5th Australian Open in 2015, added another Wimbledon crown and won his 10th Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. A red hot Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final was the only thing that prevented him from the Grand Slam. Novak started the 2016 season where he left off cruising to the title in Doha. He failed to drop a set in the tournament with Rafael Nadal describing that he had never seen better tennis played against him after Djokovic beat him 6-1 6-2 in the final. Djokovic is odds on favourite and the man to beat!
Odds to Win Australian Open: $1.70
Best Bet: Name the Finalist – Djokovic v Wawrinka ($7.00)
1st round match: Djokovic v Chung
The 17 time Grand Slam winner and 4 time winner here continues to defy his age, critics and even gravity. Federer turns 35 in August yet had arguably his best season in 5 years in 2015. Coming off consecutive Grand Slam Final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open (lost to Djokovic in both Finals) he is playing well enough to go all the way. He has been handed a very tough draw though with a potential 3rd round clash against Dimitrov who pushed him in Brisbane and a quarter final clash against Cilic or Berdych – both men who had beat Federer at Grand Slam level not to mention a potential dream clash against Nick Kyrgios. This is all before a showdown against Djokovic in the semi’s. Although the H2H between Federer and Djokovic is tied at 22 Djokovic has won their last 3 encounters at the Slams. Roger can beat Novak in a best of three set encounter (as he did in 3 of 6 meetings last year) but over 5 sets Djokovic is able to wear him down. Needed the draw to do him some favours and that has not happened. Can’t win.
Odds to Win Australian Open: $13.00
Best Bet: Stage of Elimination – Quarter Finals ($5.00)
1st round match: Federer v Basilashvili (Basilashvili +10 @ $1.90)
The Australian Open has been a tournament of both success and failure for Murray having made 4 finals here but losing on every occasion. It is hard to gauge just where Murray is at mentally. He has come out and said that his number one priority this season is to win the Australian Open but has then followed that up by saying he will put his family first this year – and that includes a comment saying that he would withdraw if he made the Finals and his wife was due to give birth on the day. The Wolf was ready to put a line through his name following the comments but after being handed the easiest quarter of the draw he will virtually walk into the semi finals. His main threat may come in the form of Bernard Tomic in the 4th Round but with Murray not having dropped a set in his three wins over the Aussie he is looking like nothing more than a speed bump. He will get to the semi’s but the Wolf has Stan Wawrinka taking him out and saving him from having to withdraw from the Final.
Odds to Win Australian Open: $6.00
Best Bet: Quarter 4 winner ($1.42)
1st round match: Andy Murray v Alexander Zverev
He is the one man that can take the game away from his opponent and as we have seen in the last 24 months he is the one player that the others do not want to run into at the Slams. They have all been a victim of the Stanimal’s power game and when his one handed backhand is on there is simply no stopping him. In 2014 he defeated Novak and Nadal en route to the title here and also beat Novak at the French Open last season to capture his second Grand Slam title. He is the one man that has shown that he can beat Novak in best of 5 set matches whether the Serb plays his best tennis or not. The pair have met here for 3 consecutive years and all 3 have been 5 set thrillers. Stan has won 2 of the last 3 meetings at Grand Slam level between them and that makes him the biggest threat and the best bet for the Australian Open. He has a favourable draw and may not have to beat a top 10 player prior to meeting Murray in the semi’s. The Wolf will be cheering Stan to go all the way at double figure odds.
Odds to Win Australian Open: $12.00
Best Bet: Quarter 3 Winner ($2.60)
1st round match: Wawrinka v Tursunov (Under 27.5 games @ $2.08)
It is hard to see Djokovic failing to at least make the semi’s but there could be some obstacles along the way. He may have to get through the biggest serve in the game in Ivo Karlovic while former finalists here Marcos Baghdatis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga meet in the opening round. Both men have played their best tennis here and with plenty of local support the winner of this one definitely has the ability to make a deep run. It’s all Novak but if you have to be on someone else in this quarter the Wolf says to back Tsonga.
Best Roughie: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tournament Winner: $67.00
Quarter 1 Winner: $12.00
We have a unique scenario at the 2016 Australian Open with several big name players floating throughout the draw as either a high seed or unseeded altogether. Federer will have his hands full early on with 2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic (seeded 12), Dimitrov (27) and Aussie Nick Kyrgios (29) all in his quarter. It is the toughest section of the draw and also features young guns Dominic Thiem and Borna Coric along with the big serving Sam Querrey. The value lies with Marin CIlic – he has proven that he can win at the highest level, will potentially avoid Federer and has the serve to take the game away from his opponents.
Best Roughie: Marin Cilic
Tournament Winner: $67.00
Quarter 2 Winner: $12.00
Being seeded outside the top 4 has made things all the more difficult for Rafael Nadal and he has a host of big hitters in his quarter of the draw. We will see a rematch of his epic 2009 semi final encounter with Fernando Verdasco in the opening round while he is also on course to meet either Jeremy Chardy or Ernests Gulbis in the 3rd round. Gael Monfils and Kevin Anderson have drawn a stack of qualifiers in the early rounds while Brisbane International winner Milos Raonic could face Sydney International winner Viktor Troicki in the 3rd round. The Wolf though has made Kevin Anderson his best roughie in this part of the draw – the South African has made the 4th round here in three consecutive years and is coming off his first Grand Slam quarter final appearance at the US Open late last year.
Best Roughie: Kevin Anderson
Tournament Winner: $151.00
Quarter 3 Winner: $15.00
Murray headlines the final quarter and with a real lack of contenders in this part of the draw there is the opportunity for someone to navigate their way through. Bernard Tomic has drawn the experienced Dennis Istomin in the first round but a 4th round match against Murray beckons with the draw opening up significantly after his opening match. Hewitt and Duckworth also face off but anything beyond the 3rd round would be a huge surprise according to the Wolf. Americans Steve Johnson and John Isner can be dangerous but the Wolf likes the experienced Feliciano Lopez to have another solid showing here. He made the 4th round last year and his serve and volley game is always tricky against inexperienced opponents. If Janowicz can upset Isner in the opening round look for him to also be a danger.
Best Roughie: Feliciano Lopez
Tournament Winner: $251.00
Quarter 3 Winner: $26.00
Aussies in the draw: Omar Jasik, Nick Kyrgios, James Duckworth, Lleyton Hewitt, Jordan Thompson, Matthew Ebden, Bernard Tomic, John Millman and Sam Groth.
There are a total of 9 Australian men in the singles draw with 7 of them in the bottom section (quarter 4). Bernard Tomic (16) and Nick Kyrgios (29) are the only two to be seeded while Lleyton Hewitt plays in the final tournament of his career before retiring.
Hewitt will take on James Duckworth in an all Australian opening round encounter with the draw being very favourable to the Aussies – none of them are drawn to play a seed in the opening round. The Wolf thinks Tomic will overcome Dennis Istomin in what is a tricky opening match while Kyrgios will have too much power for Pablo Carreno Busta.
Jordan Thompson comes into the tournament playing solid tennis and could make good use of his wilcard. A win over Aljaz Bedene would set up a clash against Steve Johnson with another win hopefully setting up another all-Australian match if the winner of the Hewitt/Duckworth clash can also progress.
Tomic and Kyrgios have performed well here in the past and as seeded players should again work their way through the draw. The Wolf will be backing Jordan Thompson in his first match but says to steer clear of big serving Sam Groth. He has had a rough start to the season and he has shown weakness in critical parts of his recent matches (tiebreakers). We could get some value backing against him.
Best of luck to all the Australian men and here is the best way to get some value out of the locals with the Wolf’s best Aussie bets.
Top Aussie: Bernard Tomic ($2.00)
Nick Kyrgios Stage of Elimination: Third Round ($2.75)
Bernard Tomic Stage Of Elimination: Fourth Round ($1.70)
Duckworth v Hewitt: Duckworth +3.5 ($1.80)
Millman v Schwartzman: Millman -6 ($1.87)
Bellucci v Thompson: Thompson WIN ($2.95)