A new year begins and still the world of men's tennis is being dominated by players in their thirties. particularly Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Between them, they have won the last seven Grand Slam tournaments with three of the last five being won by the Serbian. Add Roger Federer into the mix and only one of the other top sixteen players in the world (34-year-old Stan Wawrinka) has managed to win a Grand Slam tournament. Will that change in a 2020 Australian Open that will be played in far from ideal conditions?
Novak Djokovic holds the record of seven Australian Open titles and is the 2.2 favourite at Bet365 to again be champion. He won two Grand Slam titles last year but still ended 2019 as the world number two behind Rafael Nadal. He'll be wanting to reclaim top spot and has already made a strong start to the new year captaining Serbia to the ATP Cup.
Djokovic won all of his singles matches in that team tournament and that included beatimg Rafael Nadal in Serbia's win over Spain. He looks to have a good draw with a seeded quarter final against Stefanos Tsitispas (who'll probably be told off by his mother if losing) and Roger Federer in the semi-final. Djokovic has four titles, a semi-final and a fourth round defeat in his last six Grand Slam tournaments. Another title certainly can't be ruled out in a tournament where he has an 89% success record.
Not since 2009 has Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open title and that's his only success. Since that sole victory, Nadal has only made it past the quarter finals on four occasions, each time going on to lose in the final. Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam tournaments but take away the French and US Opens and he has only won three since 2008.
It's not clear why Nadal hasn't had so much success in this tournament. Perhaps he's just a slow starter to the year and counting down the months till he has his seemingly annual Paris victory. Whereas Wimbledon is played on grass, which isn't his best surface, this tournament is played on a hard court, yet he's not had the same level of success as he has enjoyed in New York.
The world number one didn't get on quite so well in the ATP Cup. In addition to his loss to Djokovic, Nadal was also beaten by David Goffin in the semi-final. Nadal doesn't have the easiest of draws with Karen Khachanov his likely last sixteen opponent. In the quarter finals he could face Dominic Thiem with Daniil Medvedev, David Goffin or Alexander Zverev likely semi-final opponents. Nadal will need to be near the top of his game if he is to reach another Australian Open final. You can get odds of 5.5 at William Hill.
At the age of 38, can Roger Federer equal Novak Djokovic's record and win a seventh Australian Open title? His last Grand Slam win was in this tournament in 2018 and since then, he's only reached one Grand Slam final. That was at Wimbledon last year and the Swiss legend comes into this tournament under a bit of a cloud.
Whereas other top players have been busy in the Davis Cup , ATP Cup and warm-up tournaments, Federer has been off the court. He's been more busy defending his views on climate change and air pollution than winning matches in what could well be his last year on the ATP circuit Well it might be, but you get the feeling that Federer can just go on and on and on.
Just what kind of form he is going to be in for this tournament remains to be seen. He admits to not being match-ready and has low expectations for this opening Grand Slam tournament of 2020. That might be understandable considering the draw that he has. Steve Johnson in the first round won't be easy and in the last 64 he could be up against Filip Krajinovic with Australian Johm Millman a possible third round opponent. If he gets through to the last sixteen, he could face Canada's Denis Shapovalov, who had a strong end to last year and did well in the two team tournaments Federer missed. His likely semi-final opponent is Novak Djokovic, so it's going to take an almighty effort to reach the final. hence his odds of 11.0 at Bet365. Remember if you are having a bet on the Australian Open, have a good read of our tennis betting guide.
Tennis could do with a new name winning a Grand Slam tournament and Daniil Medvedev might just fit the bill. The Russian was ranked 19th in the world this time last year but is up to fourth now. He had a strong second half of 2019 winning in St Petersburg, Shanghai and Cincinnati and losing in the final in Washington, Montreal and the US Open.
2020 began with Medvedev leading Russia to the semi-finals of the ATP Cup. He only lost one singles match out of five and that was to Novak Djokovic in three sets. He's in the tougher top half of the draw with likely opponents being Stan Wawrinka and Alexander Zverev before a possible semi-final against Rafael Nadal. If Medvedev can show anything like the form that he had in the second part of 2019, then he has a chance to go deep in this tournament and looks the most likely threat to the top two seeds. That's indicated in the current odds with Medvedev the 8.5 third favourite if your bet is placed at William Hill.
Dominic Thiem is the fifth seed and it's time that he proved that he can be a threat away from the French Open. The clay court specialist has reached two finals and two semi-finals in Paris but just one quarter final elsewhere. That was in the 2018 US Open and in six previous visits to Australia has failed to get past the fourth round.
Aside from his loss to Rafael Nadal in the French Open, his 2019 Grand Slam performances left a lot to be desired. He lost in the second round here last year and failed to win a match at either Wimbledon or the US Open. The Austrian doesn't need a clay surface to be successful.
The second half of 2019 proved that with tournament victories in Beijing and Vienna. Then he lost in the final of the ATP Tour Finals at the end of last year, including wins over Novak Djokovic. and Roger Federer. 2020 hasn't got off to a great start though with two defeats in three singles matches in the ATP Cup. With Rafael Nadal likely to be his quarter final opponent, a deep run doesn't look likely hence him being 21.0 at Bet365.
Alexander Zverev is seeded seventh for this tournament but the same question still has to be asked about the German. Just when is he going to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. His best effort to date has been quarter final appearances in Paris. Last year was a slight improvement with a quarter final, two fourth rounds and a first round exit at Wimbledon. It's all a bit of a mystery considering he's had 11 tournament victories since 2016. including the 2018 ATP Tour finals. One time he will come good in a Grand Slam and William Hill have odds of 51.0 on him winning this title.
Tennis needs new stars to be created and the pair of Denis Shapovalov (20 years old) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (just a year older) are likely candidates. Shapovalov reached the final of the Paris Masters last year and could well prove a thorn in the side of the top seeds with a possible last sixteen clash against Roger Federer. Stefanos Tsitsipas has only got past the fourth round of a Grand Slam once so far. That was in this tournament last year when beating Federer but losing to Nadal, winning just six games. Hopefully he'll keep his cool in the Australian heat but may have to beat Djokovic, Federer and Nadal in consecutive games to win the tournament and is 15.0 at William Hill.
Home hopes seem to rely on Nick Kyrgios after the withdrawal of Alex de Minaur. Kygrios is seeded 23rd and has only made it to two Grand Slam quarter finals, the last being in the 2015 Australian Open. Can he go two weeks without a tantrum or three? He won the Citi Open in Washington last year but taking the 26.0 at Bet365 is a bit of a risk. If he makes it to the third round, Rafael Nadal is likely to be waiting for him and a pre-match beer together isn't on the cards for that one!
Andrey Rublev is seeded 17th and has won both of the two singles warm-up tournaments. He has a poor Grand Slam record though with just one quarter final. He lost in the first round here last year and could meet David Goffin in the third round. He's in form though and that makes him a dangerous player, though those tournament wins haven't been against top players.
It's difficult to look past Djokovic and Nadal when it comes to choosing the winner of the Australian Open. Djokovic has made a strong start to the year and has won this tournament more times than any other player. He seems to have the best of the draw and an eighth title looks to be well within his grasp.