Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal rolled back the years to monopolise the Grand Slams this year and all eyes will be on that duo ahead of the first major tournament of 2018. The Australian Open takes place at Melbourne Park from January 16-29 and it will see Federer aim to defend his title. He is the favourite to do so and it will be intriguing to see who steps up to challenge him. Here are the leading contenders to seize glory, along with odds from well-reviewed betting site Bovada:
Roger Federer (+275)
The evergreen Swiss benefited enormously from careful management of his body in 2017 and was rewarded with his first Grand Slam win in five years. He beat Nadal in a thrilling final to earn his 18th Grand Slam overall and then went on to win a 19th when he claimed the Wimbledon title in July. He skipped the entire clay court season in a bid to stay fresh and was the standout player of 2017, so it is understandable that he is the favourite to defend his title in Melbourne. However, he suffered a shock defeat to David Goffin in the ATP Finals at the end of the year and showed his fallibility, which will give rivals confidence as they bid to topple the great man.
Rafa Nadal (+300)
Nadal quickly got over the disappointment of losing in Melbourne to win a record 10th French Open title by dismantling Stan Wawrinka in the final. He also claimed the US Open title with a straight set win over Kevin Anderson. That was the 16th Grand Slam title of his career and he is gunning for Federer’s all-time record of 19 in 2018. The King of Clay is five years younger than Federer, so the Swiss might have to win a few more majors if he is to hold onto that record. Nadal has been strong on hard court, but he finished the season injured, limping out of the ATP Finals, so it remains to be seen if he will return in peak condition in January.
Novak Djokovic (+350)
Federer and Nadal would surely have racked up many more titles between them had it not been for Djokovic, who dominated men’s tennis for years up until 2017. He has had injury problems and personal issues and his form tailed off, allowing the aforementioned duo to return to the summit of the men’s game once more. But a fit and fired up Djokovic is still the best player in the world and if he can shake off his injury and get some match fitness he will be a real threat in Melbourne.
Andy Murray (+550)
The Scot entered 2017 as the world number one and was expected to earn some serious silverware amid Djokovic’s fall from the top. But Murray has also had some horrendous injury problems and fitness issues, and endured a disastrous 2017. Along with Djokovic and Wawrinka, he missed the season ending ATP Finals and the game’s top eight had an unfamiliar look about it. Murray should be dominating the men’s game right now, but he needs to rediscover his full fitness quickly.
Alexander Zverev (+1000)
The exciting German youngster rose as high as world number three after winning a host of titles in 2017. He looks destined to become an all-time great, but as of yet he has flopped in major tournaments. He has never been past the fourth round, and was similarly disappointing at the ATP Finals, so it might be worth opposing him for a little while.
Stan Wawrinka (+1600)
The other excellent but ageing Swiss will always be a threat at Grand Slams as he can beat anyone on his day, but he too has had injury problems and appears to lack the consistency to challenge at present.
Grigor Dimitrov (+1600)
The Bulgarian looks a really interesting dark horse to win the Australian Open after winning all five matches to claim victory in the ATP Finals. He beat Goffin, the conqueror of Nadal and Federer, in a thrilling final, and looks to be entering his prime. He has a big serve and all the weapons to make a splash Down Under, so he is certainly one to watch heading into the big tournament.