STARNBERG, October 15, 2021 (by James Murphy)
Although we are quite some way from the start of the first Grand Slam tournament of the new season and at the time of writing, the BNP Paribas Open is still ongoing. But we’re well into October now and before we know it this year’s tennis tournaments will be over. Then attention will immediately turn to Australia as talk will begin about who may reign supreme in the Rod Laver Arena in early 2022.
So we’ll get ahead of the game, by taking a look forward to January. As we consider which players may have their name etched onto the trophies at the conclusion of the 108th Australian Open.
Where can we start other than the current holder of the Sir Norman Brookes Trophy and World No. 1? Djokovic’s record at Melbourne Park is nothing short of phenomenal. He’s never lost a final there. It’s easy to understand why he’s favorite to take victory again. But much will depend on his vaccination status, as it’s not yet been confirmed if players need to be fully vaccinated before being allowed to head to Victoria in early 2022.
The German has had a very productive 2021 to date; his performance which sealed a quarterfinal place at Indian Wells against the enigmatic Frenchman Gael Monfils was fantastic. He dominated his opponent, dropping just four games in the straight sets victory. ‘Sasha’ as he’s affectionately known, is aiming to add the men’s title to the junior Australian Open he won in 2014. He’s certainly well placed to do so if he can continue his current form.
Already recognized as the greatest Greek player in history, Tsitsipas, will elevate his status to stratospheric levels should he take the title in the Rod Laver Arena. The 23-year-old though will have to find a level of consistency which we are yet to see. His talent is undoubted, but he needs to show steely determination and maintain concentration levels in the early rounds to avoid an unnecessary hiccup.
It may seem remarkable to consider Naomi Osaka as a front runner in Melbourne given that she’s on a self-imposed, indefinite hiatus from tennis. Despite this fact however, even the oddsmakers seem to be giving her the nod. While it’s a little early for too much betting action on 2022, the sports betting section on Ladbrokes has already posted odds for the Australian Open — and listed Naomi Osaka as the women’s favorite at 9/2.
The 18-year-old Brit could not have ever dreamt about her meteoric rise to fame this year. Going from winning the qualifying tournament, then the US Open final, will be remembered for many years to come. Her recent success has thrust her name amongst the pre-tournament Australian Open favorites and rightly so. However, her most recent performance at Indian Wells, her first since that Grand Slam win, didn’t go well. Raducanu lost out in the second round but there’s plenty of time to hone her game before she heads to the Southern Hemisphere.
The 25-year-old will have the hopes of her home nation on her side in January. Barty is yet to taste victory at home in a Grand Slam although went close in 2020, making the semi-final. Her performances and subsequent lengthy stint at the top of the women’s game, has seen parallels drawn between her and Roger Federer recently. Former Australian Fed Cup captain, David Taylor, admires the tactical and technical prowess of Barty and said she can go on to have a remarkable career. He should know, he of course trained Martina Hingis and reckons that Barty has all the assets to maintain her place as world number one for quite some time yet.
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