The recent ATP Tour Finals marked the end of a disrupted 2020 tennis season. There’s not too long to wait for the next one to begin. January sees the first Grand Slam tournament of 2021, just who are the favorites to win?
The Australian Open is scheduled to take place in Melbourne from 18-31 January. The start may be delayed due to Covid-19 quarantine restrictions in the state of Victoria. The usual warm-up tournaments are tentatively scheduled to take place.
When it does begin, Novak Djokovic will look to complete a hat-trick of Australian Open wins. He loves this tournament with a record eight victories. If he does win for a third successive year, it’ll be the second time he’s achieved that feat down under. He has ended 2020 as world number one, but it has been a strange year for him.
The first half of the year was one of total dominance. One victory after another and no losses. Then came the US Open and his default, followed by a loss in the French Open’s last eight. Djokovic also failed to win in Vienna and lost to both Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev at the tour finals. Of his last eight matches in 2020, four were lost.
He remains the one to beat, though, and the tennis odds at Bovada have that bookmaker listing him as favorite. Remember to find out as much as you can about Bovada before joining them.
Retaining his title isn’t going to be an easy task. The number of rivals who could become champion is growing. Rafael Nadal always has to be considered, but this isn’t his greatest tournament. He’s the second favorite with the bookmakers but hasn’t won the Australian Open since 2009. He has reached four finals since then, the most recent being in 2019.
Dominic Thiem Creative Commons
Dominic Thiem lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open final. He went on to win the US Open and will again be a major threat to Djokovic. The same can be said of Daniil Medvedev, who won the Tour Finals tournament. He beat the current top three ranked players in the world in that tournament. He’s never made it past the fourth round in the Australian Open, a record that may well be improved on in 2021.
Others to consider are Stefanos Tsitsipas, a semi-finalist in the Australian Open in 2019. He has yet to reach a Grand Slam final, though. Alexander Zverev made it to the last four in the 2020 Australian Open, but that maiden Grand Slam title still eludes him. Then there’s Roger Federer, a six-time champion down under. He’s been out injured for most of 2020 but did reach the last four in this year’s Australian Open. Will he be fit to play in 2021? Even if he is, a seventh title looks unlikely.
Betting on who will win the Women’s Singles isn’t easy. The last five tournaments have produced five different winners. No player has retained the title since Victoria Azarenka in 2013. Now aged 31, Azarenka is ranked 13th and made it to the final of the US Open last year. If she hits form, then a third title isn’t beyond her.
The betting odds show how open this tournament is, with the favorite being Naomi Osaka at around 7/1. Osaka has a decent record in Australia, winning this title in 2019 but only making the third round in 2020. She did win the US Open this year, and the last time she did that, an Australian title followed a few months later.
Ashleigh Barty creative commons
Ashleigh Barty hails from Ipswich in Australia and is the world number one. However, Barty hasn’t played a tournament since February of this year and has never made it past the semi-finals at the Australian Open.
Sofia Kenin was the surprise winner here in 2020. The American lost in the French Open final, so a successful defense might just happen if hitting form again.
Simona Halep has to be on the shortlist. The world number two reached the final here in 2018 and the last four this year. Then, of course, there is Serena Williams, still chasing that record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title. The American has been trying to get that win since becoming the Australian Open champion in 2017. Since then, she’s lost in four Grand Slam finals but hasn’t made it past the last eight in Australia in her last two appearances. This really is an open draw; perhaps we’ll get another shock winner. Can Iga Swiatek repeat her incredible French Open win? The Polish player reached the fourth round here in 2020, so it’s not impossible.