Novak Djokovic set for third straight Australian Open triumph
Novak Djokovic managed just one grand slam title in 2012 after securing three out of four the year before, but he will be hoping to kick off this campaign with Australian Open success.
The Serbian hitter is the overwhelming favourite to take the first major of 2013 in Melbourne at 11/10, and in doing so complete his third straight victory in the competition.
This time Djokovic will not have to worry about Rafael Nadal – the man who pushed him for five sets in the 2012 final – as the Spaniard has been ruled out after picking up a virus during his recovery from knee injury.
The closest challenger to the reigning Australian Open champion this year will be Britain’s Andy Murray – who lost the 2011 final to Djokovic in straight sets.
Murray also came runner-up in the tournament in 2010, but the Scot may feel that after his maiden US Open success last September the time is right for him to go one better this year.
The Olympic champion is priced at a favourable 11/4 to add another grand slam to his trophy cabinet at the first time of asking this campaign, but he is likely to face Roger Federer at the semi-final stage.
Federer is actually ranked as the second seed for this competition, but Ladbrokes have edged the elegant Swiss a touch further back from Murray at 4/1 for victory.
Backing any other player away from trio would appear a long-shot, with former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro fourth in the betting but priced back at 12/1.
The 24-year-old has never progressed further than the quarter-finals in Australia, and despite having considerable talent would be a shock to even make the final.
In Nadal’s absence, international compatriot David Ferrer will take the fourth seed, and is available at 25/1 for victory at Melbourne Park.
Tomas Berdych is a similarly consistent option at 33/1 to strike a challenge to the favourites, but like Del Potro the Czech has never gone further than the last eight of this competition.
In 2008, the popular Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stunned the tennis world when he made the Australian Open final at the beginning of his injury-affected early career.
Djokovic saw off the Frenchman in that showpiece event in what was the Serbian’s first ever grand slam victory, and Tsonga arrives at this year’s tournament again troubled by injury.
A hamstring strain forced Tsonga to withdraw from the Hopman Cup recently, and at 40/1 he is an outside punt at best to win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.