The world could use a break! The 2015 Australian Open from Melbourne figures to be one of the most viewed sporting contests of the year. This year’s seeds, including 2014 defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka as the four seed, are very different than last year’s seeds. But, what do the bettors think and who will rise above the field and claim the first major of 2015?
By overwhelming odds of evens - 2.0 (at Paddy Power - Get £20 FREE Bet) , world number 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic tops the betting line.
While the Big Four, Djokovic (1 – evens), Roger Federer (2 – 11/2) Rafa Nadal (3- 7/1) and Andy Murray (6 – 8/1) did not dominate the tour with their usual superiority in 2014, they head the betting favorites again this year. A word to the wise, watch out! Favorites traditionally fall in Australia’s summer heat and the deck is one of the most challenging on the tour. The pace is fast and puts a premium on endurance, which Wawrinka (4 – 12/1) displayed in uncommon amounts last year to win the title.
Other notables include Japan’s most effective tennis power, Keri Nishikori (5 – 14/1), powerful Tomas Berdych (7 – 33/1) and promising Milos Raonic ( 8 – 33/1) of Canada. Nishikori is well suited for this court and the climate. Berdych is expected to fade and Raonic struggles with his return game. Serve and volley types tend to succumb in Melbourne.
The game’s premier hound dog is still David Ferrer (9 – 66/1) whose effectiveness waned in 2014 after a startling 2013 season. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (10 – 28/1) possesses the power and athleticism to make competitors nervous. Many insiders believe Melbourne is well suited for this upset-minded tiger, who would have to play through Federer and the Murray quarterfinal winner to reach the finals. We like Dimitrov’s chances in the lower bracket. Just remember, you heard it here.
It seems doubtful that the health of Spain’s Rafa the Great can hold up. Assuming Berdych falters, the most likely semifinalist from the top of the bottom bracket would be Ernest Gulbis (11 – 125/1), who has a propensity for five-setters. Australia’s Bernard Tomic 80/1), who has virtually self-destructed, will get crowd support but seems teetering. American John Isner (19 – 200/1) will hang tough but, like Raonic, struggles to break serve and bookmakers do not like his chances.
It is Andy Murray who may be the most fascinating ticket in the men’s draw. Who knows, right? If it is not his coach, or his health, it is between his ears, always a sensitive area for the Scotsman. But, on paper and without the pressure of a major, Murray has all the tools. The player with everything, including the conditioning and who seems able to play through pain and injury is Federer. If these two are both in form, I give the edge to Murray, but I do not see this as a matchup in this tournament. I look for Dimitrov to explode from the bottom, overcome his nerves in the finals and knock off Wawrinka. This will trigger a year of welcome transition for the 2015 tournament schedule and provide us all with much a needed break!