It would not be a stretch to say that the Australian Open might never have received as much pre-tournament attention as it has in the last several days.
Nine-time men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic received an exemption to play in the upcoming Grand Slam event though he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and the tournament wasn’t allowing unvaccinated to compete. Naturally, he has listed as the pre-tournament favorite once it appeared that he would be able to play.
There was a backlash feeling as if tournament officials were allowing Djokovic to circumvent the rules as he is on the verge of setting the men’s record for career Grand Slam singles titles.
The government, which has a strict policy in the effort to slow the spread of COVID, stepped in and denied Djokovic a visa. As he appealed the decision, he was held in immigration detention. His situation led to the Australian Open men’s outright odds being pulled from the BetUS site.
Obviously, with Djokovic no longer a part of the field, that changes things dramatically in terms of the tennis betting odds.
Here’s a look at some of the top contenders on the men’s side.
Another Grand Slam Title within Medvedev’s Grasp?
With titles at the 2020 Tour Finals and the 2021 US Open, Medvedev has proven his ability to play his best on the biggest stage. How will the 25-year-old Russian handle having more eyes on him than he is used to?
He seems at ease in Australia after reaching the final there in 2021 after advancing to the fourth round in the previous two years. He has lost twice to Djokovic and once to Rafael Nadal in his three previous Grand Slam finals appearances.
Djokovic won’t be around to block his path and Nadal hasn’t advanced past the quarterfinals in three of the last four Australian Opens. This is the only Grand Slam event he has failed to win multiple times as his lone Australian Open championship came in 2009. He also lost in the finals in 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2019.
Among the next generation of tennis greats, Medvedev has the best odds at +150 according to the sportsbook to win at least one Grand Slam in 2022. He followed up his win at the 2021 US Open by reaching the finals at the ATP Masters event in Paris and at the Tour Finals.
Based on his form at the ATP Cup, Medvedev seems ready for another deep run at a Grand Slam.
Team Canada will face Russia for a spot in the @ATPCup finals starting at 9pm ET tonight.
Denis Shapovalov faces World No. 167 Roman Safiullin.
Felix Auger Aliassime then faces No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
Likely to come to the deciding doubles match which gives 🇨🇦 a good shot! pic.twitter.com/QRlHxy97cL
— Mike McIntyre (@McIntyreTennis) January 7, 2022
Zverev Is on a Roll Heading into the Australian Open
Won the 2021 tour finals. 34-5 in tour events since the start of Wimbledon. He won titles at the Olympics, in Cincinnati, and at Vienna. He defeated No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Medvedev to win the ATP Finals in November. He defeated every other top-10 player in 2021.
He has been knocking on the door in Australia reaching the semifinals in 2020 and quarterfinals in 2021. He has advanced to the semifinals in Australia in 2020 as well as at the French Open and US Open in 2021. It is just a matter of time before he seals the deal at a Grand Slam and maybe this is the one.
He figures to be a favorite heading into this event with those who bet on tennis.
Deep Tournament Runs in Australia Nothing New to Tsitsipas
The breakthrough for Tsitsipas in the Grand Slams came when he advanced to the 2019 Australian Open semifinals with a run that included a win over Roger Federer.
He was back in the semifinals in the event in 2021 and followed that up by reaching the French Open title match. However, he had early exits at both Wimbledon and at the US Open. Beginning with the US Open he lost to players outside the top 30 in four consecutive events
Busy Rublev Trying to Find His Game
Rublev believes in quality and quantity in tennis as no top player is out there as often as he is. Rublev broke into the top 10 in the ATP rankings in October of 2020 but has never been past the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam event although he does have an Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles to his credit.
Since 2017 he has as many first-round exits at the Grand Slam events as he does quarterfinal appearances. From Indian Wells through the ATP finals, he lost six of his nine matches.
Talented Sinner Looking for Better Results in Australia
The 20-year-old Jannik Sinner had an interesting end to 2021 as he won the title in Antwerp with a comfortable win over Diego Schwartzman and followed that up by reaching the Vienna semifinals but then dropped his opener in the next two tournaments.
His best Grand Slam results have come at the French Open. He lost in the second round in 2020 and in the opening round last year at the Australian Open. He has the game to make some noise at this year’s event but it is really hard to know what to expect from him.
Plenty Left in Tank for Nadal
Nadal has made it to at least the quarterfinals 13 times at the Australian Open but has just one championship to show for his deep tournament runs. He will certainly be a fan favorite as he goes after his 20th Grand Slam singles title. Nadal has been dealing with injuries in recent years and doesn’t have much match experience leading into this event.
He has won a pair of hard-court Grand Slam titles recently as he took the US Open in both 2017 and 2019. He’s giving up more than 10 years on the other top contenders but there’s never been any questioning Nadal’s physical conditioning.
Nadal and Andy Murray, a five-time finalist in Australia, are a pair of legendary figures who will draw plenty of attention from fans, media and those who bet on tennis as the tournament moves on.
Will Fritz End Drought for U.S. Men in Australia?
An American player won the Australian Open men’s singles title eight times from 1992-2003 but since Andre Agassi won the 2003 title, no American player has reached the men’s singles final in Australia.
That streak doesn’t seem likely to change even with the wide-open nature of this year’s field.
Taylor Fritz has the best odds among the Americans. Fritz has never been past the third round in a Grand Slam but since 2020 he was advanced to the third round in Australia twice and in the other three Grand Slams once.
Could this be the event where he survives until the second week? Well, since October he has three wins over top 10 players and five against players ranked in the top 20. He also has the motivation after a loss to No. 99 Jenson Brooksby in the Round of 64 at the US Open, an event where so much more was expected.