Wed, Jan 10, 9:27am by Staff Writer
128 of the world’s best male tennis players will be vying for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, which kicks off on Monday morning.
The main draw consists 128 players, 32 of which are seeded and 12 which enter the main draw through a three round qualification competition.
Headlining this years men’s draw are perennial favourites Roger Federer ($2.75) and Rafael Nadal ($5.50).
The two veterans met in last year’s Australian Open final, where Federer was a winner across five tight and grueling sets of tennis.
Federer began his 2018 campaign at the Hopman Cup, winning all four of his singles matches on his way to winning the exhibition competition with partner Belinda Bencic.
It is unsurprising to see Federer such a short priced favourite, given the form and injuries to many of the other players were have become accustomed to seeing in the major tournaments.
It is hard to turn down Federer as an outright favourite given his tenure and past successes in Melbourne.
With Nadal, Novak Djokovic ($7), Stan Wawrinka ($26) and Milos Raonic ($41) all incurring injuries late in 2017, as well as the omission of former champion Andy Murray, this year’s men’s draw however is more open than usual.
Brisbane International finalist Grigor Dimitrov ($11) had an excellent end to the 2017 season and has began 2018 well. Dimitrov is yet to make a Grand Slam final, but with Nadal and Djokovic returning to Australia after lengthy injury breaks, the Bulgarian is fourth favourite to win the title and represents good value.
Youngsters Alexander Zverev ($12) and Nick Kyrgios ($13) will be aiming to make the second week at Melbourne Park, with both having their ups-and-downs at Grand Slam level.
Former US Open winner and fan favourite Juan Martin del Potro ($15) is one of the world’s best when fully fit. He is appearing in Melbourne for the first time since 2014, with his best result at Melbourne Park reaching the quarter finals in 2009 and 2012.
After sustaining a freak injury at the 2017 French Open, Belgian David Goffin ($19) bounced back well in the latter half of 2017, helping Belgium reach the Davis Cup final.
The diminutive Belgian possesses solid ground strokes and if the draw falls his way, could wreck havoc in the second week.
Frenchman Gael Monfils ($101) enjoys playing in Australia, making at least the third round of the Open eight out of the past nine years.
Monfils is an erratic player, but when he is at his best, is one of the more skillful players on tour. Last week he won the ATP 250 event in Doha and is this week playing the World Tennis Challenge exhibition in Adelaide. Monfils’ price is a tad on the high side given his high potential and good recent results in Melbourne.
The remainder of the men’s draw is filled with high quality players such as Tomas Berdych ($126), Richard Gasquet ($151) and Gilles Simon ($151). Those players are in the twilights of their career and looked destined to never taste Grand Slam success unfortunately.
The most intriguing ‘long shot’ comes in the form of Argentinian Diego Schwartzman ($251). Schwartzman made the 2017 US Open quarter finals, his best result at a Grand Slam event in his short career.
Schwartzman has built his game around solid ground strokes and a ‘never say die’ attitude which has seen him register two top-10 wins on hard court last season against Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic.
It is not impossible for Schwartzman to make the quarter finals at the Open, and his starting price of $251 is definitely overs and would present a lucrative cash out opportunity as the tournament progresses.
Roger Federer to win the Australian open at $2.75 at Sportsbet
Grigor Dimitrov to win the Australian Open at $11
Diego Schwartzman to win the Australian Open at $251
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