Novak Is Back In Australia 🎾

The Djoker has won the last three Australian Opens he's played in, and oddsmakers like his chances once again as he makes his return after last year's drama. Here are the top contenders Down Under 🦘 (4 min read)

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Tennis In Australia

The first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2023 is underway in Melbourne, as the opening round of the 111th Australian Open continued into the wee hours of the morning today (for those of us over here in EST). Although there are some big names missing on the men's side, it's still a star-studded field with several intriguing contenders πŸ†

  • World No. 1 and 2022 US Open champ Carlos Alcaraz is missing the tournament due to a leg injury, and the polarizing but always exciting Nick Kyrgios, who had the fourth-best title odds, was forced to withdraw just 24 hours ahead of his scheduled first-round match due to an injury of his own

But although that dangerous duo is out of commission, an even bigger title threat is returning to the fold after missing last year's tournament. Novak Djokovic, whose first match back at Melbourne Park is currently in progress vs. Spaniard Roberto CarballΓ©s Baena, is a heavy favorite to continue his record-setting dominance and capture his 10th piece of Aussie hardware. Here are some of the other guys joining him atop the odds board πŸ‘‡

  • Novak Djokovic: -125 (bet $125 to win $100)

  • Daniil Medvedev: +480 (bet $100 to win $480)

  • Rafael Nadal: +1300

  • Taylor Fritz: +1600

  • Holger Rune: +1600

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas: +1800

  • Jannik Sinner: +1900

  • Felix Auger-Aliassime: +2300

Current world No. 3 Casper Rudd, a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2022, doesn't even have top-eight odds (+3000). That should tell you just how deep and talented the field is this year 🀯

  • Other interesting value picks include former world No. 2 Alexander Zverev (+5500) returning from that nasty ankle injury he suffered vs. Nadal at the 2022 French, current world No. 6 Andrey Rublev (+7000), and 2022 US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe (+7000)

  • Even some first round matchups had some serious talent on both sides, like last night's battle between 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini and former world No. 1 Andy Murray. Murray with the big upset 😳

Murray's tough opening draw just demonstrates the youth movement we've see in full effect in recent Grand Slam tournaments, and with the next generation of tennis stars continuing to emerge, Novak should have his work cut out for him. Best match so far? 25-year-old Alex Molcan taking down former champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets. Peep the gaming winning point πŸ‘‡

Also, shoutout to 2022 NCAA singles champ Ben Shelton from University of Florida who won his first Grand Slam match of his career earlier this morning in a five set thriller πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Trivia Question: Who was the last player to beat Djokovic in an Australian Open match?

Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images

How About The Women?

The women's side of the tournament is missing some star power as well, with Serena Williams not officially retired but on an indefinite leave of absence, and Naomi Osaka stepping away due to her pregnancy. But also like the men, there's a plethora of legitimate challengers. Just take a look πŸ‘‡

  • Iga Swiatek: +200

  • Aryna Sabalenka: +700

  • Jessica Pegula: +750

  • Coco Gauff: +1100

  • Caroline Garcia: +1300

  • Belinda Bencic: +1300

  • Ons Jabeur: +2000

With neither of the previous two Australian Open champs (a now-retired Ashleigh Barty last year and Osaka in 2021) playing, there's a good chance we see a first-time winner, with 21-year-old Iga Swiatek leading the way as the favorite πŸ‡΅πŸ‡±

  • The world No. 1 captured two Grand Slam titles last year (the French Open and US Open), but she came up just short in the semifinals a year ago against Danielle Collins (a sleeper this year at +3900)

Or perhaps 2023 is the year of Coco Gauff? The 18-year-old American phenom has top-six odds to kick off the campaign with that elusive first Grand Slam, and she had no issues in her debut 😏

Fun fact: Coco Gauff is sponsored by the pasta company Barilla. Let's go pasta fam 🍝

Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

For My Parlay Gurus

No one is safe from early round upsets, but its unlikely we see the tournament's best players taken to the brink until the field thins out a bit. Looking at some upcoming matches with more reasonable money lines, I like these guys to all come out on top πŸ‘‡

  • Sebastian Korda ML vs. Yosuke Watanuki: -460

  • Yoshihito Nishioka ML vs. Dalibor Svrcina: -390

  • Hubert Hurkacz ML vs. Lorenzo Sonego: -350

  • Frances Tiafoe ML vs. Juncheng Shang: -550

$100 on this bet would win you $132 β€” if we hit, make sure you email [email protected] for a chance to win up to $100*. Many will enter, only some will win πŸ˜‰

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Trivia Answer: Djokovic hasn't lost at the Australia Open since the fourth round of the 2018 tournament, when he was defeated in a stunning upset by unseeded Chung Hyeon

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