The Djokovic saga
It’s hard to think of a time when a tennis-related story was in the news as much as the one surrounding Novak Djokovic and the ‘will he, won’t he?’ regarding his Visa, his Covid-related exemption and his participation in this year’s Australian Open 2022.
But perhaps it’s not that surprising that this is the story everyone is talking about. Djokovic is the defending champion, the World Number One and the man best positioned to become the all-time leader when it comes to Grand Slam wins.
And now with him out of the competition before it has actually started, it’s time to take a look at the other favourites…
Chalking off four more
- Stefanos Tsitsipas (19.50) and Rafael Nadal (9.25) have both had injuries of late and this is perhaps the Slam where more than any other, you need to be 100% fit going into. You can’t win lots of free points just off your serve like you can at Wimbledon and with the courts a bit slower than in recent years, you’re not going to be hitting as many winners as in the past.
Then, there’s the heat. At times it’s so hot that the game is temporarily stopped because it’s basically not safe to play in those temperatures. So, you can see the importance of being in great physical shape.
- Despite his inconsistent stamina levels, Alex Zverev is among the favourites to clinch the title, currently priced at 3.80. Time and again, he seemed to get too tired at Grand Slams where matches can go to five sets, but could this be the place where he can improve in that regard?
Step forward, Medvedev
Of course, fitness can only get you so far, but he ticks plenty of other boxes. Being ranked number 2 in the world is testament to how consistent Medvedev has been over the past two seasons. He has after all, won 13 tournaments so far.
- Late last year at the Paris Masters and ATP Finals he made the final. Yes, he lost on both occasions but those were two high-class tournaments and the fact he got that far show how consistent he’s been when up against the world’s best.
- And of course, he was instrumental in Russia winning the Davis Cup.
Last year he made the final of the Australian Open and although he lost to Djokovic – no disgrace there, it shows how much he not only improved in general but also, at the Australian Open itself. He may just go one better this year.
…and we saved the best for last. With Djokovic going for the Grand Slam of winning all four majors in the same year (2021), he was stopped in his tracks by…Medvedev.
Playing a near-flawless match, Medvedev beat Djokovic in straight sets thanks to strong serving, good fitness, wise shot selection and a calm head. Remembering that he’s 1.98m and can get himself out of trouble with some big serves and you can see why he’s fast becoming the complete package.
Halep can come good in the women’s draw
As for the AU Open Women‘s draw, we all know that predicting who might win it is far harder than in the men’s… Just look at what happened at last year’s US Open when Emma Raducanu came from absolutely nowhere to win it, as a qualifier.
But the one to go with here might be Simona Halep. If you had to take just the one female player to play on all surfaces and expect strong results, it would probably be her.
In terms of physical, tactical and shot-making attributes she’s the one who ticks the most boxes. As it happens, two Grand Slam titles (French and Wimbledon) isn’t a particularly great return for a player of her ability who has been on the circuit for over 10 years.
But Simona Halep is coming back to something like her best right now and has had a decent time of it in Melbourne over the last few years, making the fourth round, a quarter-final, semi-final and final.
So no, she hasn’t won here yet, but this might be her best chance. Best of all, she’s available at excellent odds of 13.90.