Defending champion Roger Federer is a worthy favourite for the Australian Open men’s singles and one is tipping him to make it 20 Grand Slam titles with a victory in Melbourne.
Whereas bookmakers are struggling to reach consensus about the Australian Open women’s singles market leader, they are united in rating Federer as the man to beat in the other singles tournament and rightfully so. Of the big four in men’s singles, Federer is the only one fully fit and in form, with Andy Murray absent, perhaps never to return because of his chronic hip problem, and injury clouds hanging over both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Federer has prepared for this year’s Australian Open men’s singles in the same way that he did for the 2017 edition, taking out the Hopman Cup team competition in tandem with Belinda Bencic. Federer is in a happy head space and the Australian Open men’s singles draw was pretty kind to him even though it placed him in the same quarter as two of the four players who beat him on a hard court last year – David Goffin and Juan Martin del Potro are drawn to face either other before one of them gets near the Fed Express.
Federer was 40-4 on hard courts in 2017 and, while the Australian Open men’s singles is, strictly speaking, an outdoor event there are times when matches on Rod Laver Arena are played under a closed roof. Federer is good on hard courts; he is great on indoor hard courts. Australian Open officials sped up the Melbourne hard courts last year and that undoubtedly advantaged Federer more than his fellow major contenders. One does not expect the Australian Open men’s singles field to encounter slower hard courts in this year’s renewal.
According to bookmakers, Nadal is the Australian Open men’s singles second favourite but the Spaniard’s knees are in bad shape and he has lost each of his last five matches against Federer on hard courts, including the three most recent such clashes in straight sets. Nadal is odds-on with bookmakers to reach the Australian Open men’s singles semi-finals but that says more about the shallow nature of first quarter and the section favourite’s championship credentials.
Djokovic loves Melbourne – he has won six Australian Open men’s singles titles – but the conditions are unlikely to be as slow as they were during his Rod Laver Arena glory years and he pulled out of the Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament due to a painful elbow. Djokovic looks increasingly like a man whose best days as a tennis player are behind him.
The Australian Open men’s singles title is Federer’s to lose at odds of +175 with 888Sport and BetVictor – he is the most reliable commodity of the genuine superstars and the second tier of players are unlikely to beat him if he produces performances close to his best. The most popular Australian Open men’s singles dark horse is Nick Kyrgios, the local talent who is unpopular in Australia following a series of incidents. Will the Melbourne crowd rally behind Kyrgios? And will Kyrgios stand up physically to playing seven matches in two weeks in likely hot temperatures?
Almost five years separated the 18th and 19th Grand Slam victories of Federer’s career and one did not expect to be backing him to win the 2018 Australian Open men’s singles at the age of 36 but his chance is obvious based on the form and fitness of his rivals near the top of the rankings.
Federer represents good value not only to take out the Australian Open men’s singles title but also simply to qualify for the final, especially with those bookmakers willing to let you get set at odds greater than +100 .
Roger Federer to win the Australian Open
16th – 29th January, 2018
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