The Australian Open (taking place on February 8, 2021 – February 21, 2021) is finally back on Stake.com! Building up to what should be a very interesting tennis season, the AO is the beginning grand slam on the 2021 menu, and provides players and fans alike with something to have their eyes glued to. Although there have been tough circumstances surrounding the tournament at this particular time, the show will go on and be a great attraction to the sporting world. With the field being open, and everyone having to adjust to the times we live in, there can be so many different outcomes as to who will lift the trophy. This time around, it becomes massively more of a mental game than ever before.
With COVID-19 having played / playing a huge role in daily life for all of us around the world, there has been certain restrictions and rules that the Australian Open committee has placed over the players and spectators. The mandatory quarantine that the players have to go through will prove a tough test both mentally and physically, and should make for some interesting results on the court. With a lot of controversy already surrounding the conditions, ATP players such as Novak Djokovic have spoken out against the governing authorities. Time will tell how the situation will play out, but what we do know is that the tournament will go on!
The courts at the Australian Open are outdoor and hard along with an ability to play main stage matches with a closed roof. Usually the courts become progressively faster every year, as different surface management teams can shape up the court before play. As the qualifiers finish up, players will be moving from Dubai to down under in order to compete. The difference in courts will definitely be something to keep an eye out for this year, and how it affects different players’ games, will be key to finding the right form and ability.
Who Has a Chance?
The typical Australian Open title involves a dedication of grinding and motivation over two weeks. In the past, we have seen players fall under pressure or rise up in the moment, as this tournament always breeds a chance to make a name for yourself. Everyone no matter what rank, boasts a chance to go far in this prestigious championship, and this year’s circumstances make it even more of a varied contest than before. Let’s delve into 3 of the players in both the ATP & WTA who I think have a legitimate shot at the title this year.
MEN’S – ATP Futures
#1 Novak Djokovic – ATP 1 (2.07 odds)
To say that the overall favourite isn’t Novak Djokovic, would be a flat-out lie. Nolé as his fans may call him, has been the most dominant tennis player in the past decade. His all-around game and physical ability make him the toughest player to handle out of anyone on the tour, and it shows in his many records. When you have a conversation surrounding the “GOAT” of tennis, you cannot have one without Novak Djokovic’s name being thrown onto the short list. Hard Courts (especially outdoors) are the most favourable surface that Novak plays on, and it provides him the best chance to beat his opponents swiftly. Novak is the hardest player in tennis to break down, and it becomes 10x harder when it’s during a grand slam. Look for him to create an even better resume for himself this time around, and prove why he might be the most special out of the “big three”.
#2 Daniil Medvedev – ATP 4 (5.40 odds)
If we’re talking about someone who has a chance to shake up the tennis world for years to come, Daniil Medvedev would be number one on my list. The Russian’s ability to stretch out the court and become an absolute wall against every other player on the tour has proven to be some of the best and entertaining tennis we have witnessed. His game has really grown over the past 3 years and we are seeing the fruits of his labour shine, right in front of us. Having made a true name for himself in the latter half of 2019, Medvedev has been a constant threat to the top tier of tennis ever since. He isn’t just a “next-gen” player anymore, he needs to be considered a serious player and can be a grand slam winner very, very soon. Just ask Rafael Nadal about it, during the USO final in 2019, the man is dangerous and will only get better as his career goes on.
#3 Jannik Sinner – ATP 36 (30,00 odds)
When I look at the field and the players who are looking from the outside in, I see many who are capable of causing upsets and possibly even getting to the chip themselves. One of these players that I believe has a dark horse opportunity this tournament is Jannik Sinner. The nineteen-year-old Italian phenom is one of the brightest talents tennis has ever seen. And with the 2020 he had, there have been great glimpses into what this young man can turn into. His powerful ground-strokes and big serve provide deep problems versus anyone who dares challenge him, along with a refined mental game and maturity for such a young age. The “kid” looks like a seasoned veteran on tour, and shows only progression into what should be an eventful 2021. If his injury concerns are taken care of and he’s able to get through the early stages of the Aussie Open unscathed, Jannik Sinner will be swinging with nothing to lose, and that could spell trouble.
If you’d like to bet on the men’s outright markets, click this link and place your bets now!
WOMEN’S – WTA Futures
#1 Naomi Osaka – WTA 3 (6.40 odds)
Nothing but brilliance should be used to describe what Naomi Osaka has done in her extremely young career. With what we’ve seen her able to do so far, the future for the 23-year old looks the brightest in the WTA space. The main highlights of Naomi’s arsenal include one of the most ferocious forehands in all of tennis, as well as a back hand that shoots lasers down touch lines. Although her mental game can sometimes be a question, during grand slams she has shown for it not to be a problem. The three-time slam winner should have no anxieties about performing on this stage, and I have a lot of confidence in her game this time around. Naomi on these hard courts has always done damage, and she will reflect on her 2018 win in order to repeat the same outcome in 2021.
#2 Ashleigh Barty – WTA 1 (11.00 odds)
Being the hometown hero, Ashleigh Barty will love to see the familiarity the Aussie courts give her. Although fans and spectators will be very limited if any, Barty will know conditions better than most over this 2-week period. Ranked the number one player in women’s tennis, Barty has a patient but effective game. Her slices frustrate many of her opponents into hitting shots that set up Barty for success. Being well-versed in the doubles department gives her an edge that most don’t have at the net, and makes her game even more well-rounded than it already is. If Barty can get through the rounds gaining confidence with each match, we will see a player who has the game to beat anyone and everyone who shows up to face her. 2020 reflected a sharp and savvy Barty, and I fully expect her to be a contender in all four slams in 2021.
#3 Iga Swiatek – WTA 17 (13.00 odds)
In order to really understand Iga Swiatek’s breakthrough in 2020, we have to look at how her game compares to other WTA players. Winning the French Open without dropping a set in any single match is one of the most impressive feats a tennis player can/ will ever achieve. Swiatek dominated through opponents using a play style that consisted of speed, tracking down, and ground stroke battling. Swiatek had one of the most solid backhands I’ve seen in the women’s game in a long time, and it should most certainly translate to the AO. The fact she is a mere nineteen years of age makes Swiatek a huge candidate to become prime tennis royalty for years to come. She has already shown peak ability when it’s mattered, and this tournament could be another page in the fast-growing book of Iga Swiatek.
If you’d like to place a bet on the women’s outrights, click this link and place your bets now!
Wrapping It All Up
What makes every tennis grand slam special is the stories that every player can create in two weeks. In this new-time where controversy and negativity surround most things, this event could be a chance for someone to take a stand and imprint their names in the history books. The 2021 Australian Open will be a catalyst into a year filled with hope and reconstruction. Players and their chances to bring home this championship will be magnified to an all-time high this season, and only encourages them to go that much harder, and take that step into the winning mentality.
If you’ve never watched tennis before, take a seat and watch a game or two of this year’s AO, and watch how great tennis can truly captivate oneself.