It’s almost time for the first tennis open of the year. The Australian Open is always an interesting start to the big four tennis tournaments, played as it is on hard court (like the US Open) instead of a proper British grass court (although Wimbledon tends to be played on those most rare of grass courts, flat ones).
The qualifying was still in progress at the time of writing, which means we don't know exactly how many of the British contingent made it through to the main draw, but the majority of the first round draw was known.
Not much in the way of British interest regardless of what happens in qualifying, with expectations for (BBC Sports Personality of Year) Murray limited due to how soon it is since his return from injury. He himself has already stated it would be ‘unrealistic’ to expect him to win. He’s seeded number four this time round, which has put him on the harder side of the draw with number one seed Nadal.
Murray does get to break himself in gently following his back surgery. An opening match against Go Soeda (ranked 112 in the world) shouldn’t be too troubling provided his body holds up. Win that and it’ll be a qualifier in round two.
Last year’s winner Novak Djokovic (beating Andy Murray in four sets in the final) is going for his fourth straight Australian open on the bounce. He opens with a match against the Slovakian Lukas Lacko.
Last year’s ladies winner Victoria Azarenka (coming from behind to beat China’s Na Li in three sets) is going for a third win on the trot.
Yes, that was Redfoo of LMFAO in the crowd, he’s dating Azarenka. He also entered the US Open 2013, but was knocked out in pre-qualifying.
Back to the Australian Open, the winners will be taking home a massive $2,650,000 AUS each, and even the people beaten in the first round will trouser/skirt $30,000 AUS for their couple of hours work. This probably isn’t the place to discuss whether the men and women deserve equal pay, but you can be sure that the same arguments about equality and sets played will be covered at length over the next fortnight.
What are the odds?
Novak Djokovic is the short priced favourite in the men’s draw, best priced at 10/9 with BetFair. Better value might be extracted by backing some of the longer players and laying them off as they get through the draw. Jo Wilfried Tsonga (2008’s beaten finalist) at 61/1 with BetFair would fit the bill, as would Stan Wawrinka who is massive 80/1 with YouWin (and also a cheeky 11/10 to be above Federer as the top ranked Swiss player at the end of the season).
If you're feeling patriotic Murray can be backed at 54/5 at BetFair.
Hard to get away from Serena Williams for the ladies. Seriously, she’s quick. At 5/6 on with PaddyPower her odds offer very little value. Reigning champion Azerenka is widely available at 5/1, but everyone from Sharapova down is getting towards long shot going from 11/1 to 44/1 for Radwanska.
Worth a punt to later trade out could be local, and former US Open winner, Sam Stosur. She’s available at 59/1 at UniBet and should have good market liquidity at BetFair due to the local interest.
In terms of offers, currently it’s all about Murray.
• There are money back on losing outright winner bets if Murray wins at BoyleSports
• Going one better, BetFred will refund losing outright winner bets if Murray reaches the final.
We’re sure there’ll be plenty more offers over the weekend, so keep checking the Today’s Offers page and the Forum for further details.