While this year the 2021 Australian Open tennis is starting a few weeks later than normal, at least it is finally here (Play begins 7pm ET today, Sunday).
Here USA Betting previews the men’s draw, which favors, no surprise, eight-time winner Novak Djokovic to claim yet another title in Melbourne. Read on for our Australian Open predictions and picks for the 2021 tournament.
The first grand slam of the tennis season, last year’s Aussie Open marked tennis’ last major tournament prior to the sports shutdown. This led to an altered schedule that saw only three majors played for the first time in decades. Set to be the second tournament on the schedule, the French Open was pushed back to be the last, following the US Open.
Wimbledon was cancelled. Up and down the ATP Tour, events were first postponed and then removed all together. This year, it is hopeful that all major tournaments especially the grand slams will be played on schedule. That all begins today, as play begins in the first round of the Australian Open.
This year’s tournament certainly has its fair share of storylines. We’ll look at a few of them below.
The Top Dog in Tennis
Once again, we’re here to talk about the big three of tennis. It seems almost comical at this point but it is what it is. Not since 2014 has the Australian Open been won by anyone not named Djokovic or Roger Federer. While the former is favored to hoist the trophy yet again, the latter is missing the tournament. Federer hasn’t missed many majors in his all-time great career but this year, he’ll start the season on the shelf as he recovers from double knee surgery.
Set to turn 40 before the end of the season, Federer has fewer and fewer majors left to be played. Opting to pass on the Australian Open so he can return healthy for what may be his last Wimbledon seems to make sense at this stage of his career. So without Federer, the draw opens up just a little, like a cracked door where the smallest amount of light shines through. Ultimately, the path to the title still goes through the eight-time Australian Open winner, Djokovic.
Also in the mix is Rafael Nadal but pre-tournament, Nadal dropped somewhat of a big bomb when he announced in a press conference that he too was dealing with an injury. Nadal is opting to play through what he calls not being “healthy enough.” Anyone who knows Nadal knows that even now, his legs are a large part of his game. Tournaments in the past have shown that when hampered by injury, Nadal has struggled to reach the top. Perhaps this time in the Australian Open will be much of the same. If however, Nadal can fight through what ails him, he has a chance at history. Tied on 20 majors apiece, Nadal opens this tennis season likely to surpass Federer in total career titles. If Nadal doesn’t pass Federer in Melbourne, the King of Clay will do so a few months later at Roland Garros.
The Next Generation
As is always the case when talking about the big three, you have to talk about the rest of the field, aka the guys who haven’t won majors or who have won just a few, as a result of playing against three of the top players of all-time. An entire generation of players found themselves essentially passed by because of the big three and now, the next generation, are starting to age into that territory.
Unlike with guys of the 2000s and the 2010s, who played alongside the big three as peers when Nadal, Federer and Djokovic were in their primes, there is hope for this next crop of players, who have slowly but surely been breaking through that slightly opened door. Top among them is Dominic Thiem, who has been to several French Open finals and who finally won his first major crown at last year’s US Open. Now 27, Thiem is in the prime of his career, one which could see the young Austrian win several more majors.
Thiem currently sits with the third best odds to win what would be his first Aussie Open win after having reached the final in Melbourne last year. Thiem is no doubt on the rise and if anyone is poised to beat Djokovic this year, it is the man who lost to him in the finals in 2020.
Also receiving looks are Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev to name a few. All of these men are seeking their first major win and the Australian Open could be theirs for the taking.
Our Preview’s Australian Open Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict 2021
When it comes to grand slams, the same betting rule that applied a decade ago still holds true now. Until these up-and-comers show us they can beat the big three in majors with consistency, the safe bet is always on Federer, Djokovic or Nadal. What Federer is to Wimbledon and Nadal is to the French Open, Djokovic is to the Australian Open.
Favored +135 to Medvedev’s +450, Djokovic is seeking his record-shattering ninth major in Melbourne. While the Aussie King hasn’t looked invincible in the lead up to this year’s event, it wouldn’t be the first time that Djokovic stumbled early to find his form just at the right time. The safe money is still the smart money in tennis. So this is our Australian Open prediction for his preview:
- Take Djokovic to win the 2021 Australian Open @ best odds of +135 with BetOnline. It is +120 with Bovada and Intertops, while Bookmaker are +108.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.