The first Grand Slam of the tennis season gets underway in the early hours of Monday morning as the Australian open kicks off in Melbourne.
Andy Murray will also make his first appearance in a major tournament after missing the back end of last season with a back injury.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic is the bookies’ early favourite for the title for a fifth time. The Serbian has won the tournament three years on the bounce with the hard court surface suiting his playing style.
The world number two will be hoping to start this season the same way he finished last, when he scooped the ATP World Tour Finals title in London back in November.
There’s a chance the 26-year-old may be a little rusty after deciding against playing in any of the prior minor events earlier in the month but his excellent record at the event means he’s 5/6 favourite for the title with Paddy Power.
He begins his pursuit of the title against Slovakian Lukas Lacko at around 8am on Monday morning.
Men’s Outright Betting
2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal missed this tournament last season through injury but he’s amongst the favourites to take the title this year.
The Spaniard’s preparations for the tournament have been positive as he took the Qatar Open title a week ago. Coral currently provide the best odds of 7/2 on tournament outright winner.
Nadal takes on Australian Bernard Tomic, who’s ranked at number 60 in the world rankings, on Tuesday.
Last year’s beaten finalist Andy Murray plays in his first major tournament since September after successfully recovering from a back injury which kept him out at the end of the season.
His preparations for the tournament have been less successful than Nadal’s after being defeated by world number 43 Florian Mayer in the second round in Doha almost a fortnight ago.
The Brit may also struggle with the conditions in Melbourne, with temperatures expected to reach 40ᵒc and is currently priced at 10/1 with Sportingbet. Murray’s first round opponent is Japan’s Go Soeda who is currently ranked at 140 in the world rankings.
Juan Martín del Potro has only ever reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open although the Argentinian comes into the tournament after winning the Apia International Sydney on Saturday. He’s currently priced at 12/1 with William Hill amongst others.
Four times Australian Open champion Roger Federer is on the search for his first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012, but as time goes by is looking increasingly likely that it could be his last. He’s currently available at 22/1 with Boylesports.
Following an incredibly successful 2013 season on the WTA Tour, Serena Williams comes into the Australian Open as hot favourite with the bookies. She’s won the tournament five times already but not since 2010, and is 8/11 on with Paddy Power on taking it for a sixth time.
Number two seed Victoria Azarenka is second seed in the women’s draw and she is defending champion after taking the title in both 2012 and 2013.
The Belarusian finished as runner-up in last week’s Brisbane International after being beaten by Williams in the final. She is priced at 11/2 with Coral.
Keep up with all the going on in the tournament which is being broadcast live on British Eurosport 1 and 2.
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