It may feel as though the 2016 ATP season has only just finished, but the 2017 Australian Open is fast approaching. And though we enter a new year, old faces are set to steal the show.
Of the last 14 spots available in the Aussie Open men’s final, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have bagged 10 of them.
And after the pair claimed three of last season’s Slam titles, plus Olympic singles gold and seven of the nine ATP 1000 tournaments, there really isn’t much hope for anyone else right now.
The bookies’ odds reflect the duo’s ownership of the current game, with Murray and his Serbian rival each installed at 6/4.
And with the pair ranked number one and two, they shouldn’t meet until the final.
Amazingly, should that happen it would be the fifth time the duo have contested the showpiece in Melbourne, and this year certainly offers Murray his best chance of finally ousting Djokovic Down Under.
The Scot ended 2016 in phenomenal form, winning five successive tournaments and racking up a 25-match winning streak.
Now world number one for the first time, this is the first year Murray heads to Australia as a genuine favourite.
Behind that pair, Stan Wawrinka is next in the betting at 11/1, and plenty will fancy that’s a shade too big to be ignored.
The Swiss is the 2014 Australian Open champion, defeating Rafael Nadal in the final after dispensing with Djokovic in a quarter-final five-set thriller.
Having also defeated Djoko to win the US Open final last September, Wawrinka represents the strongest challenge to the dominant top two.
Next up comes Milos Raonic, and now 25, many might fancy the Candian each-way at 16/1.
Raonic reached his first Slam final at Wimbledon last year, and reached the last four in Australia last year too.
Throw in the fact that the Montenegro-born star reached the last eight in seven of last season’s nine ATP 1000 tournaments, and it’s clear Raonic is steadily becoming a mainstay in the latter stages.
A better each-way shout then, albeit with plenty of risk, is home hero – and villain – Nick Kyrgios at 33/1.
The Aussie is still only 21 years of age, but was a quarter-finalist in his home Slam two years ago and few doubt he could reach the very top.
A three-week ban for unsportsmanlike player in the Singapore Open in October reminded us all that Kyrgios has much to learn, but if he can control his temper, he could represent the punt of the tournament.
Of course, this requires one of Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic to not reach an Australian Open final, and recent history shows that to be a very rare thing indeed.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing