Mon, Jan 29, 11:31am by Staff Writer
The 2018 Australian Open ends with a maiden Grand Slam title for Dane Caroline Wozniacki and a historic 20th Grand Slam title for Roger Federer.
Federer’s path to his 20th Grand Slam was made easier due to the omission of one of his career foes Andy Murray, as well as early exists for Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka.
The dream final that fans hoped for and a rematch of the 2017 Australia Open final between Federer and world number 1 Rafael Nadal was not to be, as Nadal succumbed to a thigh injury in the quarter finals, retiring against eventual finalist Marin Cilic.
As always, the Australian Open unearths new talent and this year was no different. 21-year-old Next Gen champion Hyeon Chung produced the best results of his career on his way to a maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance.
Wins against Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic propelled the Korean into stardom, before he unfortunately retired in his semi final match against Federer.
Another young player who made his mark at the 2018 Australian Open was Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
After playing in the shadow of his countryman Andy Murray for much of his career to date, Edmund produced some sensational results at this year’s Open.
A highlight was his five set win against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round, battling back from 2-1 down in 40 degree temperatures to win the match in five sets.
A past criticism of Edmund was his durability, particularly in best of five set tennis and in oppressive heat, but he disproved that myth with a career best week in Melbourne.
Other players in the men’s draw who acquitted themselves well were Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who provided a stern test for Rafael Nadal in the round of 16.
Another young Argentine, Nicolas Kicker produced his best ever results on hard court, reaching the third round before losing to another up-and-coming player in Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.
The next Grand Slam takes place on late May with Rafael Nadal being the red-hot favourite to claim another French Open crown.
Nadal is $1.83 at Sportsbet to win his 11th French Open crown. Novak Djokovic is next in line at $6, with Austria’s Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka both at $9.
Of that bunch, Thiem represents the most value, as he pushed Nadal on clay last season.
Other players which stand out in French Open betting include David Goffin at $41 and Pablo Carreno Busta at $67.
The third Grand Slam of the season is Wimbledon which takes place in July in London.
Roger Federer is the favourite at Sportsbet at $2.88, with Djokovic at $5.50 and Andy Murray $6.50.
Juan Martin Del Potro has some good early value at $34.
The final Grand Slam event in September is the U.S. Open with Djokovic the early favourite at $4, with Nadal and Federer at $5.
Croat Marin Cilic won the 2014 U.S. Open and enjoys the courts at Flushing Meadows, so $26 about his outright win is overs at this stage.
Not often do we see the top two seeds reach the final in a Grand Slam event, but that is exactly what happened at the 2018 Australian Open, with top seed Simona Halep met second seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Wozniacki was victorious in an epic three set match, one in which both players had opportunities to win the match, with Wozniacki eventually claiming her maiden Grand Slam title.
This year’s Open was a disappointing one for many of the top women’s seeds, with Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams bundled out early on.
Angelique Kerber showed excellent form and the 21st seed will almost certainly be back competing for a position at the top of women’s tennis this year.
4th seed Elina Svitolina had an excellent opportunity to make her mark at a big tournament at the Open, but failed to do so.
As did Maria Sharapova, whose return to tennis has not been as smooth as many predicted, with the Russian failing to move past the 3rd round.
Unlike the men’s game where we are seeing a number of young players spring surprises at Grand Slam’s, it is the women we have accustomed to seeing at the top of the game reaching the summit once again.
Wozniacki’s Grand Slam title comes 10 years after her first Grand Slam finals appearance, and four years after her last Slam final.
With Serena Williams’ return imminent, the remaining Grand Slam titles in 2018 will be even harder to win.
Williams is favourite to win the French Open at $4, but is far too short to be backed, with Halep at $7, the better pick given her clay court expertise.
Williams is also favourite for Wimbledon ($4.50) and the U.S. Open ($4) later this year.
Muguruza is $9 to defend her Wimbledon title, with Czech Petra Kvitova, also a former winner, $11.
Wozniacki ($11) and Karolina Pliskova ($13) look the early standout prices in U.S. Open betting.
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