Serena Williams at 11/4 and Victoria Azarenka at 11/2 head the field in the 2016 Australian Open women’s singles winner betting market having won five of the previous seven editions between them, with the others landed by the retired Kim Clijsters and Li Na.
Yet if you have doubts over the prospects of either – and after all they are on respective streaks of one and 10 Grand Slams without earning the title – there are plenty of attractive alternatives, with these the five most enticing:
Sure, picking the five-time Grand Slam champion isn’t the most imaginative selection, but you can’t ignore the consistency that Sharapova brings to the court. She has appeared at 14 Slams since the start of 2012 and only once failed to clear the first three rounds at the very least. At Melbourne Park, her sole failure to reach the semi-finals in that period came when paired with eventual runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round.
Poland’s “Ninja” ended a mixed 2015 on a massive high, winning WTA Shot of the Year for the third time in a row and more importantly claiming her most significant title yet – the WTA Finals – despite opening with two defeats. Though that tournament is intended to crown the queen of the campaign just concluded, it is an even better portent of success to come. Of the last 15 winners to compete at the next Australian Open, 11 reached the final four, eight got to the final and six won it, including three of the last six. Five of the previous six champions secured a Grand Slam the following year, so it really is Radwanska’s chance to make the overdue breakthrough, and this is the major that she is most consistent at, hitting the quarters four times in five years, including a run to the semis in 2014.
Sometimes you can’t ignore course form. The 26-year-old peaked early at the other three Grand Slam events, making her only week-two appearances exclusively between 2009 and 2012. Back then, the Australian Open could have been mistaken for her weakest Slam, but bursts to the 2014 final and 2015 quarters debunked that theory. Injury derailed the Slovakian in 2015, yet the US Open brought some joy, most notably in a first-round triumph over seventh seed Ana Ivanovic.
There are three reasons to fancy Svitolina as an appealing outsider. The first is that she progressed to the third round in each of the last two years, which at that point was the 21-year-old’s best major showing, and the second is that she closed 2015 by winning two of her final three meetings with top-25-ranked players. The third is that she has started this year with three successive singles victories while representing Ukraine at the Hopman Cup.
Cases for the likes of Simona Halep (9/1), Petra Kvitova (12/1) and Belinda Bencic (14/1) are clearly easier to construct than for someone with just two career Grand Slam singles wins. However, some ambitious punters will be looking for a triple-digit candidate and there aren’t many in better form than Babos. The 22-year-old Hungarian finished 2015 with her first singles title in three-and-a-half years and is currently outdoing expectations at the Shenzhen Open, removing Monica Niculescu and Eugenie Bouchard en route to a semi-final with Alison Riske.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.