As the first week of the Australian summer of tennis comes to a close, we begin to look forward to the last week of tennis before the Australian Open, the feature event of the summer. Already so far we have seen the Australia Green team of Nick Krygios and Daria Gavrilova win the Hopman Cup in Perth, as well as two star-studded fields in the men’s and women’s singles in Brisbane, culminating in a straights sets victory in the women’s singles for Victoria Azarenka over Angelique Kerber.
We preview the Brisbane Men’s final, the Sydney International and take a look ahead to the Australian Open.
The first men’s final on our shores this season is a tasty one, with number 1 seed Roger Federer taking on the number 4 seed Milos Raonic. While Federer has a 9-1 head-to-head winning record against the big serving Canadian, only two of those matches have been in the last 12 months, including the final of this event last year which was won by Federer in three tight sets. Raonic has a great record in finals of ATP 250 events, having won 6 out of 7 finals at the ATP250 level, and his powerful serve should be enough to force Federer to go deep into sets, where the high variance nature of tiebreaks means that anything can happen. While Federer is justifiably the favourite, I think Raonic is live often enough to make this worth a bet at the current odds.
Bet: Milos Raonic to win at $3.78 at SportsBet
A cursory look at the men’s field for the Sydney International will have some casual fans wondering where the superstar players are. It is a fair comment as well, with Bernard Tomic, the 18th ranked player on the ATP charts and the number 7 seed in Brisbane, installed as the top seed in Sydney. The main reason for this weaker field is the nature of Grand Slam events, featuring seven rounds of matches over a best of five set format. With the winner of this event winning less money ($72,000) than a player would for making the Australian Open third round ($75,000), it makes sense for many of the top players to skip the Sydney event to focus on next week at Melbourne Park.
However with 250 ATP ranking points up for grabs for the winner, there is still a lot to play for. In particular for Bernard Tomic, the champion from 2013. Currently the world number 18, he will look to move into the top 16 for seeding purposes in future events, and that push starts here in Sydney. The draw has been very kind for Tomic, with two players he has losing head-to-head records against in Grigor Dmitrov (0-2) and Alex Dolgopolov (3-6) on the other side of the bracket. He made a strong run to the semi finals in Brisbane, including wins over Nicholas Mahut, Radek Stepanek and world number 8 Kei Nishikori, and I think he has a great shot to win this tournament in the lead up to the Australian Open.
Bet: Bernard Tomic to win at $5.00 at Sportsbet
The women’s field, in contrast to the men’s, is actually of a much higher quality, boasting four of the top ten players in the world, and all eight seeds having a higher world ranking than the number 1 seed in the men’s field. This is mainly due to Sydney being the only WTA Premier event on this week (the men’s also has to compete with a similar event in Auckland).
Simona Halep from Romania is the top seed, and along with Agnieszka Radwanska received a bye into the last sixteen. Radwanska faces a second round match against either Sam Stosur or Roberta Vinci, which is one of the more difficult second round opponents she could possibly face. That match will likely be the game of the second round, and will go a long way to deciding the fate of the tournament.
The other event of week two of the Australian tennis summer is the traditional Kooyong exhibition tournament.
This tournament is not for rankings points, and instead serves as a tune-up for those looking to adjust to Victorian conditions ahead of the Australian Open. A new format in 2016 sees 12 players dueling it out for victory, with the field headed by Australian sensation Nick Krygios.
Markets are not yet available, but given the lack of depth in the field, I would expect either David Goffin of Belgium, or Krygios to win the title pending the official draw.
Looking ahead to the first Grand Slam of the year, the main story is the health of Serena Williams. Serena is currently the favourite at $4.00 with Sportsbet to win the tournament. After pulling out of her own charity fun run in December, and withdrawing from the Hopman Cup, her preparations have been less than ideal. While she is the greatest player of her generation, I doubt she can win this event the 25% of the time to break even, so will be giving those odds a pass.
On the men’s side of the draw, the number one seed is Novak Djokovic, entering the tournament as the odds on favourite again at $1.72 at Sportsbet. Having won this tournament four out of the last five times, he once again should be in the mix come the business end of the tournament. However, with the full draw not being confirmed until later this week, I am planning to wait before putting any money at risk. My main focus will be seeing who suffers the misfortune of being in the Djokovic quarter of the draw for the 5-8 seeds. Djokovic would like be far happier to see Berdych (22-2 lifetime head-to-head) on the other side of the net as opposed to Kei Nishikori (5-2 lifetime head-to-head). Sportsbet are offering $1.90 on the field vs Djokovic to lift the title, which depending on the exact draw could offer some value.
A reminder that you can catch all the action live on Channel 7 and its subsidiary channels for what should be a great three weeks of tennis, and make sure to keep an eye out on Before You Bet for more comprehensive Australian Open previews later in the week.
Make sure to read full terms and conditions of any betting promotion before placing any bets.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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