The first Grand Slam of 2020 begins “down under” next week. It is always interesting to see how different players’ offseason regiments affect their play at the Australian Open. Some players like Roger Federer choose to opt for more rest and play fewer events. Others stay busy throughout, working on their form and fitness heading into the new year.
The “Big Three” all are looking for some part of history in this tournament. Second seed Novak Djokovic looks to extend his record of most Australian Open titles. He aims for his eighth championship in just his 12th appearance. Third seed Roger Federer would tie Djokovic at eight career titles with a win. Lastly, top seed Rafael Nadal looks to become the first man in the Open Era to win at least two titles in each of the four Grand Slam events. His lone Australian Open championship came back in 2009.
Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal have dominated Grand Slam events of late. Between the three of them, they have won the last 12 Grand Slam events combined. They have also won 13 of the last 14 Australian Opens, with Stan Wawrinka’s win in 2014 being the lone outlier. Is this the year where more of the young prodigies can breakthrough, especially in Grand Slams?
To give these gentlemen their proper due, this betting preview will be broken down into two parts: Best Bet of the Big Three and Best Bet of the Rest. (odds courtesy of FanDuel)
Best Bet of the Big Three
Novak Djokovic (+120)
Novak Djokovic has owned the Australian Open since 2008 when he started accruing his eight titles. From 2011-2016, he won five of the six Australian Open titles. Though Roger Federer has won two of the last three, he does not appear in the proper form to win the Australian Open this year. Federer skipped the ATP Cup events, as has not appeared in a competitive match since last November. It would not bode well for Federer if he were to meet Djokovic, as Federer has not beaten him at a major since 2012. Based on the draw, these two are on a collision course in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the ATP Cup finals, and even helped Serbia win the doubles event as well. Djokovic is in great form and is clicking on all cylinders. He cruised past Nadal in straight sets in the finals last year, capping off an Australian Open in which he did not drop a single set throughout. On hard courts, Djokovic has won his last nine matches against Nadal. He showed how dominant he is on this surface and is clearly the man to beat.
Best Bet of the Rest
Daniil Medvedev (+900)
When looking for a contender to breakthrough and crash the “Big Three” party, one cannot look too far down the list of odds. However, fourth seed Daniil Medvedev is on the verge of big things in his career. Medvedev is a master at extending points, finishing long rallies, and wearing his opponents down. He is clearly comfortable on hard courts, reaching the finals of six consecutive hard-court tournaments. The 23-year-old has beaten Djokovic twice in the six head-to-head meetings. He pushed Djokovic to three sets in the ATP Cup in Australia, making Novak work for everything he got.
Medvedev ended the last Grand Slam season with a thrilling run in the US Open. Though he lost a five-set battle to Rafael Nadal in the final, he proved on a number of occasions he can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. He has yet to beat Federer or Nadal in six combined meetings but will look to use his offseason momentum for big results in this Grand Slam. His draw is favorable, as he avoids the “big three” until the semifinals. He has a tough first-round opponent in Francis Tiafoe, who made the quarterfinals of this event last year. However, the rest of his quarter looks very manageable. If seeding held, he would face the struggling Alexander Zverev. Medvedev is bound to break through at a Grand Slam at some point. Getting 9-1 odds on someone favored to reach the semifinals is not bad value.